The First Four matchups are behind us and now the real Madness begins. The Round of 64 kicks off today with 16 games on the docket, plus two in the NIT. We also have 10 NBA games and 5 NHL games to choose from. For an updated breakdown of Friday's action, including the top line moves, systems plays and sharp contrarian bets, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 12:30 p.m. ET. I will also be joining Patrick Meagher and Michael Lombardi on The Lombardi Line at 1:30 p.m. ET to offer a market update.
In the meantime, let's discuss a trio of Friday college hoops matchups receiving notable line movement...
12:15 p.m. ET: Virginia Tech vs Florida
This South Region matchup is the first game of the day. Virginia Tech (15-6) enters as the 10-seed against 7-seed Florida (14-9). Virginia Tech stumbled down the stretch, going 1-2 in their last three games and losing to North Carolina 81-73 in the ACC quarterfinals, failing to cover as 4-point dogs. Meanwhile, Florida also limped down the stretch, going 1-3 in their final four games, falling to Tennessee 78-66 in the SEC quarterfinals, failing to cover as 4-point dogs. This line opened with Florida listed as a short 1-point favorite. Right off the bat, this line speaks volumes. Why isn't the 7-seed more of a favorite? The oddsmakers are saying this is a pick'em game. The public is all over 7-seed Florida, yet we've seen this line fall from Florida -1 down to a pick'em. At times we've even seen this line flip to Virginia Tech -1. This signals smart money on the Hokies, with wiseguys causing reverse line movement in favor of Virginia Tech. We've also seen some sharp money hit this under, dropping the total from 137.5 to 135.
12:45 p.m. ET: Colgate vs Arkansas
This South Region showdown features 14-seed Colgate (14-1) against 3-seed Arkansas (22-6). Colgate is riding a 13-game win streak and just beat Loyola Maryland 85-72 to win the Patriot League championship, covering as 10.5-point favorites. On the flip side, Arkansas just lost to LSU 78-71 in the SEC tournament semifinals, losing outright as 5-point favorites. This line opened with Arkansas listed as a hefty 9.5-point favorite. The public is leaning toward laying the points with Arkansas, yet we've seen this line fall from 9.5 to 8.5. This signals sharp reverse line movement on underdog Colgate, with wiseguy money grabbing the points. Ken Pom has Arkansas winning by eight points, which means Colgate at the current number still has actionable value. Colgate will lean on their prolific offense to keep this one close. The Raiders are averaging 86.3 PPG, which is 2nd-best in the country trailing only Gonzaga. This total opened at 158.5 and got steamed up to 162. But now we've seen some under buyback on an inflated line, dropping it back down to 161.5. Ken Pom has the total landing on 158, which provides some value to betting an inflated under at the current number.
6:25 p.m. ET: Liberty vs Oklahoma State
This Midwest Region matchup pits 13-seed Liberty (23-5) against 4-seed Oklahoma State (20-8). Liberty has won 12-straight and just cruised through the Atlantic Sun tournament to earn an automatic bid to the Big Dance. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State made the Big 12 conference championship game but lost to Texas 91-86. This line opened with Oklahoma State listed as a 9.5-point favorite. Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys are a popular public play, yet this line has plummeted from OK State -9.5 to -7.5. Some shops are even juicing up the + 7.5 (-115), signaling a possible fall down to 7. This big dip was a result of sharps steaming Liberty plus the points, forcing oddsmakers to adjust the number toward the dog. Ken Pom has Liberty losing by seven points, which still provides some value on Liberty plus the hook. Liberty will look to slow the Cowboys down with their smothering defense. Liberty is only giving up 59.6 PPG this season, third-best in the nation behind only Loyola Chicago and Houston. Sharps have also steamed this under, dropping the total from 142.5 to 139.5. Liberty is one of the slowest teams in the country (63.1).
7:10 p.m. ET: Wisconsin vs North Carolina
This South Region grudge match between 9-seed Wisconsin (17-12) and 8-seed North Carolina (18-10) is one of the tightest lines of the first round. Wisconsin started the season 12-3 but went just 5-9 the rest of the way, losing to Iowa 62-57 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. On the other hand, North Carolina went 6-3 down the stretch before losing to Florida State 69-66 in the ACC tournament semifinals. This line opened with North Carolina listed as a short 2-point favorite. This public is happy to fade struggling Wisconsin, yet we've seen this line fall from 2 to 1.5. This indicates smart money buying low on the Badgers plus the points. Ken Pom has Wisconsin winning this game by two points, which provides one of the biggest discrepancy plays of the first round if you want to back the Badgers. Ken Pom has Wisconsin ranked 10th and North Carolina 28th. One reason to like Wisconsin here is its senior-laden starting lineup and the fact they play in the rugged Big Ten, the best and most competitive conference in college hoops. North Carolina hails from the lesser ACC. Respected money has hit this under, dropping the total from 139.5 to 137.5. Wisconsin is incredibly slow in terms of tempo (64.9), which aids the under.
9:20 p.m. ET: Rutgers vs Clemson
This Midwest Region grudge match pits 10-seed Rutgers (15-11) against 7-seed Clemson (16-7). Rutgers beat Indiana 61-50 in the Big Ten tournament second round before falling to Illinois 90-68 in the quarterfinals. On the flip side, Clemson suffered an early second round exit in the ACC tournament, falling to Miami 67-64 and losing straight up as 8-point favorites. This line opened at a pick'em or Rutgers -1 depending on the book. Right off the bat, this opening line speaks volumes. If Clemson is the higher seed and has a better record, why aren't they favored? If it looks fishy, there's a reason behind it. Wiseguys have sided with Rutgers, pushing the Scarlet Knights up to -1.5. Ken Pom has the Scarlet Knights winning by two points, which means bettors targeting Rutgers might prefer a moneyline play over laying points. We might be looking at a low scoring game. The total opened at 126.5 and has been bet down to 125.5. Clemson is one of the slowest teams in the country in terms of pace (64.2).