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Market Insights: New England pushing ahead on legalized betting

Lost in the recent betting frenzy of college hoops, NBA and XFL are two major developments in the push to legalize sports betting, particularly in New England. 

Back in January, Maine Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a sports betting bill that would have allowed legal betting via mobile and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. However, earlier this week, the Maine Senate voted 20-10 to override the governor's veto. Now the bill goes to the House. If they also vote to override (two-thirds majority required), then sports betting becomes legal in Maine. Rep. Scott Strom told Legal Sports Report  that he is "confident" the House will vote to override the veto. 

Not to be outdone, there was also a major update on the legal sports betting front in Massachusetts. For over a year and a half, Massachusetts lawmakers have been studying the issue of legalized betting and, according to Mass Live, are "approaching the end of its process." The Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies received permission to extend the legislative session to the end of February with the hopes of finally getting a bill on Gov. Charlie Baker's office. In other words, we're getting close to legal betting in one of the country's most rabid sports betting markets, which also happens to be my home state. Fingers crossed!

If Maine and Massachusetts legalize betting, that would make four of six New England states with legalized betting, along with Rhode Island and New Hampshire. There are currently 14 live, legal sports betting states overall with six more having legalized but not fully operational yet.

For sports betting analysis and updates, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9 a.m.-Noon ET on The Lombardi Line. We'll be breaking down all the latest 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. With far fewer games from which to choose (18 today vs. 150 yesterday), this means each game will be heavily bet leading to heightened contrarian value. 

12 p.m. ET: Butler (18-5, ranked 19th) at Marquette (16-6)

This Big East showdown is the marquee matchup of the day. Normally, the public would lean on the ranked team with a better record over the unranked team. However, the public also loves home favorites with star players (Markus Howard, 27.9 PPG) laying short spreads. Marquette also enjoys a big rest advantage having last played eight days ago compared to Butler last playing four days ago. This line opened with Marquette listed as a 2.5-point favorite. In the most heavily bet game of the day, roughly two thirds of bets are laying the points with the Golden Eagles, pushing the line up from -2.5 to -3. Butler has value as a contrarian road conference dog with an inflated line. These two teams played two weeks ago with Butler winning 89-85. Ken Pom has this as a 1-point win for Marquette. 

1 p.m. ET: Ohio State (15-7) at Wisconsin (13-10)

On paper, this looks like a layup for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has the better record and has won two straight while Wisconsin is struggling, losing three of their last four games. This line opened at a true pick'em. Right off the bat, the public says this line is way too good to be true and is backing Ohio State. However, sharps love these buy low, sell high opportunities and have promptly gotten down hard on Wisconsin at home, pushing the line from a pick'em to Badgers -2. Wisconsin also has value as a bad ATS team (9-13-1) against a good ATS team (13-9). Big Ten home favorites are 50-12 (81%) straight up this season and 33-25 ATS (57%) according to Bet Labs Sports.  

2 p.m. ET: Tulsa (15-7) at Central Florida (12-10)

Tulsa has a far-better record, is 7-2 in conference and 6-1 in their last seven games. Meanwhile, Central Florida is 3-7 in conference and 3-8 in their last 11 games. So why on Earth did this game open with Central Florida listed as a 1-point home favorite? Sharps smell a rat. Despite the public loading up on Tulsa the line has moved to UCF -2. This signals sharp reverse line movement with pros fading the trendy dog. We've also seen pros hit the over, pushing the total up from 125.5 to 127. One big injury to monitor in this one: Tulsa's leading scorer and rebounder Brandon Rachal is questionable with a sprained left ankle. 

More Sunday Sharp Action

Washington State + 3.5 to + 3 at Washington

Connecticut-Cincinnati Over 133.5 to 134.5

Manhattan + 2.5 to + 2 at Quinnipiac

Iona + 4 to + 2.5 at Fairfield

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