Welcome to another jam-packed College Hoops Saturday. We have a massive board with 151 games from which to choose. Believe it or not we are just 35 days from Selection Sunday, which takes place on March 15. You can almost taste the Madness.
However, before we start breaking down which games the sharps are eying today we must also celebrate the opening day of the XFL. For the first time since the "He Hate Me" days of 2001, Vince McMahon's XFL returns to action this weekend with a pair of games today and two more tomorrow.
The XFL, which is going all-in on sports wagering and encouraging it across all platforms, presents a unique opportunity for bettors. On the one hand, there is very little information and data to go off of when handicapping XFL games. After all, it's a brand new league with obscure rules, no preseason and we barely know any of the players and coaches. However, we do know that the public is thirsty to bet on football after going through a week of post-Super Bowl withdrawal. And who will they bet on? Favorites, home teams and teams with players they recognize. Savvy value-driven bettors can capitalize on this bias by buying low on unpopular teams with inflated lines. Essentially we are looking at a market flooded with casual money who is betting with zero edge.
As a result, one key will be following line movement. Remember, respected professional bettors move numbers, not Average Joes. So any easy way to identify smart money in a new, soft market is to follow which way the lines are moving. Only pros with an edge who have actually done their homework on the XFL are causing these moves.
Another area to focus on is XFL futures. By paying close attention to championship odds we can get a rough estimate of how the teams compare to each other. Futures markets are always a great indicator of overall strength because the oddsmakers are particularly careful when setting lines knowing that if they get it wrong they could get hit big by a longshot who cashes.
Here are the XFL champion odds at Circa Sports
Dallas Renegades + 250
Tampa Bay Vipers + 400
Houston Roughnecks + 500
New York Guardians + 600
DC Defenders + 600
Los Angeles Wildcats + 675
St. Louis Battlehawks + 1000
Seattle Dragons + 1000
It's also critically important to shop for the best line, as many different books are posting different odds across the market. Some books are only offering spread but not totals. Others are offering only spreads and not moneylines. Many books, like the South Point, have $500 limits for XFL, which speaks to the fact there are a lot of unknowns and the books refuse to take in huge action.
Some basic background on the XFL: there are 8 teams in two divisions. It's a 10-week regular season followed by a two-week postseason.
Important rule changes
-More returns, kickoffs from 25-yard line (35 in NFL)
-No PATs, you can choose a 1-point attempt from 2 yard line, 2-point attempt from 5 yard line and 3-point attempt from 10 yard line
-Running clock, only stops for 2 minute warning
-Play clock is 25 seconds (NFL 40 seconds)
-2 timeouts per teams (not 3)
-60 second limit for replay (hooray!)
Seattle at DC (-7.5), OU 49.5
Wildcats at Roughnecks (-6), OU 50
Tampa Bay (-3) at New York, OU 51.5
St Louis at Dallas (-9.5), OU 52
For more analysis and betting updates be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9 a.m. ET to 12-noon on The Lombardi Line. We'll be breaking down all the late moves and sharp betting angles across the NBA and College Basketball leading up to tip-off.
Now let's dive into a handful of Saturday college basketball games receiving heavy sharp money.
2 p.m. ET: Saint Louis (17-6) at Dayton (20-2, ranked 6th)
This Atlantic 10 clash looks like a no-brainer on paper. Dayton is red-hot having won 11 straight and is now at home laying a short spread against a Saint Louis team coming off a 82-68 loss to Duquesne as 4.5-point favorite. This line opened with Dayton listed as a 14-point favorite. Sharps immediately pounded Saint Louis getting the big points, which has dropped the line down to 13 or 12.5 across the market. Saint Louis has value as a conference road dog and an unranked teams vs a ranked team. These two teams met up three weeks ago and Dayton won 78-76.
4 p.m. ET: Virginia (15-6) at Louisville (20-3, ranked 3rd)
The public loves betting favorites, home teams, teams with better won-loss records, better rankings and teams riding a prolonged win streak. Louisville checks off all the boxes in this one. The Cardinals have won nine straight and are ranked 3rd in the country. However, pros know this leads to Louisville being overvalued and a prime target to bet against. This ACC battle opened with Louisville listed as an 8-point home favorite. Despite the public rushing to the lay the points the line has dropped to 7.5 or even 7 at some shops, signaling pro money buying low on Virginia plus the points. The Cavs have won three straight and have value as a conference road dog, unranked vs ranked and a buy low bad ATS team (7-14) against a good ATS team (Louisville 12-11). Virginia has beaten Louisville in 9 straight matchups.
6 p.m. ET: Duke (19-3, ranked 7th) at North Carolina (10-12)
The greatest rivalry in college hoops renews and public perception of both teams could not be more different. Historically, these are toss-up games with low spreads between top-10 powerhouses. However, while Duke remains elite with an impressive ranking and record, it's been a nightmare season for the Tar Heels who sit in unfamiliar territory below .500. This line opened with Duke listed as an 8-point road favorite. The public is all over Duke and expects an easy blowout, however the line has remained frozen at 8 and even dipped to 7.5, signaling liability on the home team. North Carolina is in the ultimate buy low spot. They have lost two in a row and are now a contrarian conference unranked dog in a heavily bet game against a ranked rival.
More college Hoops Sharp Action
Indiana -1.5 to -3 vs Purdue
TCU + 10 to + 8.5 vs Kansas
Villanova -2.5 to -3.5 vs Seton Hall
SMU pick to -1.5 at Temple
Air Force + 14.5 to + 13 vs San Diego State
Boston College + 8 to + 7 at Virginia Tech
Missouri + 2.5 to + 1.5 vs Arkansas
Oklahoma State + 13.5 to + 12.5 at Baylor
Colorado -7.5 to -9 vs Stanford
Pepperdine + 4 to + 3 at Pacific
USC + 4 to + 3 at Arizona State