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Market Insights: Chalk one up for public bettors

February 10, 2020 11:54 PM

Sportsbooks, sharps and contrarians got taken to the woodshed Monday night as the public covered all three of the most heavily bet and most lopsided games of the night. 

In the most popular game of the night, nearly eight-out-of-10 bets took Florida State and the points against Duke. FSU opened + 8.5, closed + 7.5 and lost 70-65, but covered the spread. In the second most heavily bet game, Baylor took down Texas 52-45. Three-out-of-four bets laid the points with the top ranked Bears, but sharps bought low on the Longhorns (+ 6.5 to + 6), to no avail. Finally, Texas Tech blew out TCU 88-42. Two thirds of bets backed the Red Raiders, who opened + 11 but fell to + 10 due to some smart money backing the road dog Horned Frogs. 

Remember: Vegas is not in the business of losing big. Public nights happen, but they are typically followed by big regression back toward the house (who always wins in the end). Think of it this way: the public cleaned up last night and will be overconfident tonight with money in their pockets. Casual bettors will of course lean on favorites, home teams, ranked teams and teams with better won-loss records. In turn, the oddsmakers will shade numbers even further toward these popular sides, daring the public to take overpriced numbers. This creates added value in the form of inflated lines for wiseguys and contrarians to go the other way.

Tuesday's action features 5 NBA games, 22 college basketball games and 11 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of sharp action across the marketplace be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Let's discuss a handful of Tuesday college hoops games receiving smart money.

6:30 p.m. ET: Penn State (18-5, ranked 13th) at Purdue (14-10)

This Big Ten showdown looks way too good to be true on paper. Penn State has a far better record, a higher ranking and has won six games in a row. So why did the line open with unranked Purdue listed as a 4.5-point home favorite. The public can't believe the Nittany Lions are getting points and more than two-thirds of bets are rushing to the window to grab Penn State. However, despite this lopsided betting the line has moved further toward Purdue (-4.5 to -5). This signals professional money fading the trendy dog and backing the Boilermakers. Big Ten home favorites are 52-12 (81%) straight up this season and 34-26 ATS (57%). One big injury to monitor here: PSU guard Myreon Jones (14.1 PPG) is questionable with an illness. 

7:30 p.m. ET: Rhode Island (18-5) at Dayton (21-2, ranked 6th)

Bettors are in for a treat as the top two teams in the Atlantic 10 face off in this one. Both teams are riding huge win streaks with URI ripping off 10 straight and Dayton winning 12 in a row. This line opened with Dayton listed as a 10-point home favorite. The public loves betting highly ranked favorites at home like Dayton but is also wary of a surging URI team getting big points. Tickets are split, but sharps seem to be leaning on Rhode Island as several shops have dropped to 9.5. Rhode Island has value as a conference road dog with a line move in their favor. 

9 p.m. ET: Michigan State (16-8) at Illinois (16-7, ranked 22nd)

The Spartans entered the year as the preseason No. 1 team but have fallen on hard times of late, losing their last three games and falling out of the top 25. Recreational bettors still believe in Michigan State and think the Spartans are due for a big bounce back, despite being on the road against a ranked team. This line opened with Michigan State listed as a 1.5-point road favorite. Despite two-thirds of bets laying the points with the Spartans, the line has remained frozen, signaling some liability on the Illini at home. Illinois has value as a contrarian conference dog in a heavily bet game. This is also a revenge spot for the Illini who lost to Michigan State 76-56 six weeks ago. Ken Pom has this game as a 1-point win for Illinois. 

More Tuesday Sharp Action


Wake Forest + 1.5 to + 1 vs North Carolina

Tennessee -2 to -2.5 vs Arkansas

Utah State pick'em to -2 at Colorado State

Northern Illinois-Ball State Over 123 to 125

Air Force + 12.5 to + 11.5 at Boise State

St. Bonaventure -6.5 to -7.5 at St. Joes

New Mexico-San Diego State Under 146 to 144.5

Fordham + 15 to + 14.5 at Davidson

Nebraska + 17 to + 16.5 at Maryland

Remember: The betting market is fluid and subject to change as more action comes in. Be sure to visit our free VSiN College Basketball Live Odds page for the latest lines. 

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