Happy Friday! Today March Madness continues with four more Sweet 16 matchups, plus 7 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of Friday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted by 3 p.m. ET. I'll be joining the Lombardi Line at 1:30 p.m. ET and then co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3 to 4 p.m. ET.
In the meantime, let's discuss a trio of March Madness games receiving sharp action from respected bettors tonight...
7:29 p.m. ET: Providence vs Kansas
This Midwest grudge match is the most heavily bet early game of the bunch. Providence (27-5 SU, 19-13 ATS) is the 4-seed. The Friars have beaten 13-seed South Dakota State 66-57, covering as 2.5-point favorites, and then crushed 12-seed Richmond 79-51, cruising as 3.5-point favorites. Now they face Kansas (30-6 SU, 18-18 ATS), the tournament's final remaining 1-seed. Kansas beat 16-seed Texas Southern 83-56, covering as 21.5-point favorites, and then outlasted 9-seed Creighton 79-72 but failing to cover as 13-point favorites. This line opened with Kansas listed as an 8-point favorite. Respected money has jumped on Providence plus the points, dropping the line from 8 to 7.5. Some shops are hinting at a further fall to 7. Teams with a line move in their favor are 26-18 ATS (59%) this tournament. Ken Pom has Kansas winning by seven points, which means the hook could be critical.
9:39 p.m. ET: North Carolina vs UCLA
This East Region matchup features two of the winningest programs in college basketball history. North Carolina (26-9 SU, 18-16-1 ATS) is the 8-seed. The Tar Heels have beaten 9-seed Marquette 95-63, easily covering as 4-point favorites, and then shocked 1-seed Baylor 92-86 in overtime, winning outright as 5.5-point dogs. Now they face 4-seed UCLA (27-7 SU, 18-15-1 ATS). The Bruins squeaked by 13-seed Akron 57-53, failing to cover as 13.5-point favorites, and then crushed 5-seed Saint Mary's 72-56, covering as 3-point favorites. This line opened with UCLA listed as a 2.5-point favorite. We've seen this line fall from 2.5 to 2, signaling pro money grabbing North Carolina plus the points. Ken Pom has UCLA winning by five points (75-70), which means the betting market is far more bullish on North Carolina than the advanced analytics. Sharps have also bet the under, dropping the total from 142.5 to 141.5.
9:59 p.m. ET: Iowa State vs Miami Florida
This Midwest Region clash features a pair of double-digit seed Cinderellas facing off. Iowa State (22-12 SU, 19-15 ATS) is the 11-seed and has taken down 6-seed LSU 59-54, winning outright as 3.5-point dogs, and then upsetting 3-seed Wisconsin 54-49 as 4-point dogs. Similarly, Miami (25-10 SU, 20-15 ATS) is the 10-seed, having beaten 7-seed USC 68-66 as 2.5-point dogs and then crushing 2-seed Auburn 79-61 as 6.5-point dogs. This line opened at roughly a pick'em, with some shops even hanging Iowa State -1 early. We've seen a wave of sharp action hammer Miami, flipping the Hurricanes to a 2.5-point favorite. Ken Pom has Iowa State winning by one point (68-67), which is at odds with the market movement. Pros have also hit this under, dropping the total from 134 to 133.