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Market Insights: From boxing to baseball

Tyson Fury pulled off the upset against Deontay Wilder in last night's highly anticipated heavyweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Fury knocked Wilder down twice and then won by TKO in the 7th round. With the win, Fury remains undefeated, seizes the WBC belt from Wilder and improves to 30-0-1 overall. Wilder suffers his first career loss (42-1-1). Heavy betting pushed Wilder up from -115 to -135 at the MGM Grand Sportsbook. Fury closed as a + 115 dog.

On the exact outcome odds, Fury by TKO was listed at + 505 earlier in the day at Circa Sports. Fury in Round 7 paid out a whopping + 5000.

Now onto baseball...

In case you missed it, spring training is now in full swing. Many bettors may not know this, but yes you can bet on spring training. The betting public largely bypasses betting preseason baseball. After all, the games mean nothing, starters rarely play more than inning or two and lineups are littered with rookies and longshots who won't make the Opening Day roster. Teams aren't even trying to win. Many games feature split squads. Also, a good majority of players are working on specific parts of their game, testing new things and not overly concerned about the results. The main goal of most teams is to evaluate players. So why would you bet on something devoid of any meaning?

On the surface, this makes a lot of sense. Lay off and wait until Opening Day when it actually counts. However, believe it or not, wiseguys target spring training betting precisely for these reasons. 

Since 2005, spring training underdogs have won at a 46.2% clip according to Bet Labs Sports. Regular-season underdogs are 42.5%. This means that preseason dogs cash at a 3.7% higher clip. Why? Because the games don't matter, which levels the playing field, increases variance and decreases the edge on the favorite. However, despite this higher win percentage, you are still deep in the negative. A $100 bettor betting every preseason dog would have lost $7,609. 

The key is betting these dogs on the spread, also known as the run-line. This means betting the dogs at + 1.5 runs, meaning they can either win the game or lose by one and you still win your bet.

Spring training run-line underdogs are 61.8% since 2005. A $100 bettor taking each one would have profited $2,207. If they are also on the road, they improve to 64.4% (profiting $7,643). There is barely any home-field advantage in the preseason due to the unpredictable rosters and small stadium attendances. Plus, games can end in a tie in the preseason, which would cash a + 1.5 bet. 

You can track spring training lines via our FREE VSiN MLB Live Odds page.  

For sports betting analysis and updates, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9-11 a.m. ET on The Lombardi Line. We'll be breaking down all the latest moves and sharp betting angles across college hoops, NBA, NHL and more. 

Now let's discuss a handful of Sunday games receiving sharp action from respected bettors. 

12 p.m. ET: Penn State (20-6, 9th ranked) at Indiana (17-9)

With only 32 college basketball games today compared to 132 yesterday, each one of today's games will be loaded with public action simply because there are far fewer games to choose from. So far, this Big Ten showdown is the most heavily bet game of the day. On paper, this looks like an easy win for Penn State. The Nittany Lions have a better record and are ranked while Indiana is not. So if Penn State is the better team, why did this line open at a pick'em or even Indiana -1? The public is rushing to the window to back PSU (receiving more than 75% of bets), yet this line has remained frozen at either a pick'em or Indiana -1. This sharp line freeze signals liability on the Hoosiers. This is a revenge spot for Indiana, who lost to PSU 64-49 in late January.

1 p.m. ET: Wichita State (20-6) at Cincinnati (17-9)

Both of these American conference rivals boast impressive records, but neither is ranked. Cincinnati opened as a short 4-point home favorite. A slight majority of bets are laying the number with the Bearcats at home, however, this line has remained frozen at 4 with the juice trending toward the Shockers (+ 4 at -115), signaling a possible drop down to 3.5. Wichita State has won three in a row and has value as a road conference dog. This is also a revenge game. These two teams met on February 6 with Cincinnati winning 80-79. Ken Pom has Cincy winning this game by 3 points.

6 p.m. ET: USC (19-8) at Utah (14-12)

Pros and Joes seem to be in agreement with this Pac-12 spread. USC enters with a better record and is 8-6 in conference games while Utah is 5-9. This line opened at a pick'em. Sharps immediately steamed the Trojans, pushing the line up to USC -1. USC has won two of their last three games while Utah is mired in a 3-game losing skid. Ken Pom has USC winning this game by two points (68-66). USC beat Utah 56-52 on Jan. 31. 

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