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Market Insights: How to sift through huge slate of college games

February 28, 2020 11:10 PM

Greetings from Atlantic City! I am coming to you live from the Borgata where I will be posted up all weekend. If you're in town, stop by the Moneyline Bar and Book and say hello! 

Today is the second-to-last Saturday of the college basketball regular season. We have another stacked 136-game slate on tap today with several high-profile matchups between ranked teams. So how can bettors sift through the noise of a busy slate to find value? One recommendation is to cut the board in half with all of your popular matchups on one side (big schools, ranked teams, nationally televised games) and your smaller, overlooked matchups on the other side.

In the popular games, look for opportunities to bet against the public and capitalize on elevated contrarian value due to high ticket counts and heightened Average Joe interest. In the unpopular games, lean more on line movement. Simply put, only pros are betting McNeese State and Houston Baptist on a busy college hoops Saturday. So if you see the spread or total jump, it's almost a guarantee it was caused by wiseguy money.

Another system to look for is taking the under when two good field goal shooting teams (both 45% from the floor or higher) go head-to-head. The public says both teams knock down their shots and therefore the total has to go over. However, the exact opposite is true because the oddmakers shade these number further to the over, providing inflated numbers to bet the under. 

When two good field goal shooting teams face off, the under is 129-90 (58.9%) this season and 54.% since 2005 according to Bet Labs Sports.

Here are the under matches for today

Cal Irvine-Santa Barbara

Gonzaga-Saint Mary's

Tennessee State-Belmont


Colorado State-Air Force

East Tennessee State-Western Carolina

For sports betting analysis and updates, be sure to join Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9-11 a.m. ET on The Lombardi Line. Michael has the weekend off. Patrick and I will be breaking down all the latest line moves and sharp betting angles across NBA, college hoops, NHL and XFL leading up to game-time.

Until then, let's discuss a handful of Saturday college hoops games receiving sharp action from respected pro bettors.

2:30 p.m. ET: Seton Hall (20-7, ranked 13th) at Marquette (18-9)

On paper, this looks like a no-brainer play on Seton Hall. The Pirates have a better record and a top-15 ranking while Marquette is unranked and has lost three of their last four games. But as we all know, games aren't played on paper. This Big East matchup opened with Marquette listed as a short 1.5-point home favorite. Right off the bat, sharps smell a rat. Why is the "worse" team favored and the "better" team getting points? If it looks too good to be true, it almost always is. Marquette has been money at home, going 15-3 straight up and 12-6 ATS. This is also a revenge spot for Marquette, who lost to the Hall 69-55 on Jan. 11. Ken Pom has Marquette winning by 3 points (75-72).

3:45 p.m. ET: Auburn (24-4, ranked 15th) at Kentucky (23-5, ranked 8th)

Talk about a high-profile SEC grudge match. Both of these powerhouses enter with stellar records and high rankings. They currently occupy the #1 and #2 spots in the conference, with Kentucky ahead by two games with three to play. The public loves betting big-name schools, favorites, home teams, teams on winning streaks and teams with higher rankings than their opponents. The Wildcats check off all the boxes (they've won seven straight and are 15-2 in their last 17). However, after opening with Kentucky listed as a 6.5-point favorite, this line has fallen to 6 despite two-thirds of bets laying the points. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the road conference dog with wiseguys grabbing Auburn at + 6.5. The Tigers beat the Wildcats 75-66 on Feb. 1. Ken Pom has Kentucky winning by five (73-68). 

6 p.m. ET: Duke (23-5, ranked 7th) at Virginia (20-7)

This ACC showdown is on track to be the most heavily bet game of the day. It's also one of the most lopsided, which provides an excellent betting against the public opportunity for savvy wiseguys. The Dukies are always a big public favorite and this game is no different. The Blue Devils enter with a better record and a high ranking. They've also lost two of three, including an embarrassing 113-101 loss to Wake Forest as 11-point favorites their last time out. The public says Duke is due to bounce back and get back on track. This line opened with Duke listed as a 4-point road favorite. Three-out-of-four bets are laying the points with Coach K's crew, yet we've seen this line stay the same or even fall to 3.5 at some shops, signaling sharp liability on the home conference dog. The Cavs enter this game on a hot streak having won five straight and eight of their last nine. 

10 p.m. ET: Arizona (19-9) at UCLA (18-11) 

Both of these Pac-12 teams come in with impressive won-loss records despite being unranked. However, a closer looks shows one team streaking and the other struggling. Arizona has dropped two straight, most recently falling to USC straight up 57-48 as 4.5-point favorites. Meanwhile, UCLA is quietly one of the hottest teams in college hoops. The Bruins have won five straight and 10 of their last 12. This line opened with Arizona listed as a 3.5-point road favorite. Pros and Joes both seem to be leaning on home dog UCLA as this line has dropped to 3 at several books. The Bruins have value as a conference dog. UCLA beat Arizona 65-52 back on February 8. 

Remember: the betting market is fluid and changes as sharp action comes in. Be sure to monitor the latest odds via our FREE VSiN College Basketball Live Odds page.

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