Market Insights: Sharp day as Selection Sunday approaches

February 29, 2020 11:46 PM

Welcome to the first day of March. The Madness is almost here. Two weeks from today, we have Selection Sunday. Small conference tournaments like the Horizon League, Big South, Patriot and Atlantic Sun start in just two days. 

Yesterday was a huge day for sharps, contrarians and sportsbooks. Of the 10 most heavily bet games on Saturday, the unpopular play covered or won outright in seven of them. 

  • Michigan State upset Maryland 78-66. Only one-third of bets backed the Spartans, who had sharp reverse line movement + 3 to + 2
  • Virginia took down Duke 62-50. Only two out of five bets took the Cavs plus the points (sharp RLM + 4 to + 3.5)
  • Clemson shocked Florida State 70-69. Only one-quarter of bets were brave enough to take the Tigers (sharp line freeze + 3.5)
  • Providence beat Villanova 58-54. Only two out of five bets backed the Friars + 7.5
  • Saint Mary's lost to Gonzaga 86-76 but covered the big spread. Less than a third of bets took the Gaels (inflated line value + 12.5 to + 13.5)
  • Kansas State fell to Kansas 62-58 but put a great fight and covered. Only one out of five bets grabbed K-State plus the points (sharp line freeze + 11.5)
  • TCU pulled off the upset of the day, taking down 2nd ranked Baylor 75-72. Only one out of five bets backed TCU (inflated line + 7.5 to + 9.5)

The only heavily bet public plays to cash were Kentucky (-6) over Auburn 73-66, Iowa (-4.5) over Penn State 77-68 and UCLA (+ 2) over Arizona 69-64. 

After a monster slate on Saturday, we have a more modest board from which to choose today, including 7 NBA games, 22 college basketball games, 6 NHL games and 2 XFL games.

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 the hardwood, ice and gridiron. 

For now, let's break down a four pack of Sunday games receiving sharp action from respected pro bettors.

Noon ET: South Florida (12-16) at Temple (14-14)

Both of these American Athletic Conference teams are unranked. But the public sees Temple at home with a slightly better record against a sub .500 team and that's all they need to know. However, after opening with Temple listed as a 4.5-point home favorite, sharps immediately bought low on South Florida with the hook at + 4.5, causing the line to drop to + 4. South Florida has value as a conference road dog. The Bulls were also able to snap a four game losing skid their last time out, beating Eastern Carolina 73-68. Meanwhile, the Owls have dropped three of their last four, most recently falling to Wichita State 72-69. This total opened at 127.5. Both teams have been highly profitable to the under, with USF 19-9 and Temple 16-11-1. 

1 p.m. ET: Cincinnati (18-9) at Houston (21-7, ranked 25th)

Another sneaky huge American Athletic afternoon showdown. Both of these teams are tied for 2nd in the conference, trailing Tulsa by just a half game. The public is leaning with Houston who has a slightly better record a top-25 ranking and enjoys home court advantage. However, sharp money has leaned on road dog Cincinnati. After opening with Houston listed as a 7-point home favorite we've seen the line drop to 6.5 off the market, evidence of pros buying low on Cincy at + 7. The Bearcats have played well of late, winning three of their last four. Meanwhile, Houston has dropped two of three.

6 p.m. ET: Colorado (21-8, ranked 21st) at Stanford (19-9)

This early evening PAC 12 showdown has huge implications for conference seeding. Colorado currently sits 1-game back of Oregon for the top spot while Stanford is just 2.5 games back. One look at the won-loss records and rankings and it seems like Colorado is the play. However, the Buffaloes are trending down as of late (lost two straight) while Stanford is trending up (won three straight). This line opened with Stanford listed as a short 1-point home favorite. Pros and Joes are both backing the surging Cardinal as some shops are inching up to -1.5. This is a revenge spot for Stanford, who lost 81-74 at Colorado back on February 8. Bettors wary of laying a point or point and a half might rather bet the Cardinal moneyline at -115 or -120. Ken Pom has Stanford winning this game by two points (66-64).

6:30 p.m. ET: Minnesota (13-14) at Wisconsin (18-10)

This is the final game of Sunday's short slate, meaning it will be very heavily bet and the top contrarian opportunity of the day. These Big Ten rivals are at opposite ends of the spectrum lately. Minnesota has dropped 6 of their last 8 games, including a last-second heartbreaking loss to Maryland 74-73 their last time out. On the flip side, Wisconsin is on fire and has won five straight, most recently upsetting Michigan 81-74 as a 6.5-point dog. Sounds like Wisconsin all day, right? Not so fast. This line opened with the Badgers listed as 6-point road favorites. Despite two-thirds of bets laying the points, this line has remained frozen at 6 or even dropped to 5.5 at some shops, signaling smart money backing the road dog plus the points. Minnesota beat Wisconsin 70-52 back on Feb. 5. 

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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