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Market Insights: Shifting gears from college to pro basketball

January 25, 2020 11:28 PM

In yesterday's newsletter, we focused on how to find value in a busy Saturday college basketball slate bursting with action. Today, we turn our attention to Sunday NBA.

One big difference between Saturday college hoops and Sunday NBA is the massive discrepancy in total games. Yesterday we had 140-plus games in college. Today, the NBA schedule is just 8 games. This is an advantage for savvy bettors as the smaller slate leads to an increased number of tickets on each game since there are fewer games. As a result, each one is heavily bet, providing a heightened betting against the public edge.

Also, the games are more spaced out and begin earlier in the day. This allows the public to go game-by-game in chronological order, with plenty of time for bets to build up between tip-offs. 

It's also important to understand how limits work in the NBA. At Circa Sports, the "overnight" limits (the night before) are only $2K for sides, $500 for totals and $1K for moneylines. On gameday, the limits are raised to $3K for sides, $1K for totals and $2K for moneylines. Then in the final hour before tipoff they increase to $5K for sides, $1K for totals, $2K for moneylines.

Translation: take early line movement with a grain of salt because the limits are low. The key is focusing on game-day movement, specifically for sides in the final hour. That's when the whales (big professional bettors) really make their move. 

For more analysis and betting 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 Sunday sharp action for college basketball, NBA, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl. 

Let's discuss a trio of Sunday NBA games receiving early sharp money

6 p.m. ET: Phoenix Suns (19-26) at Memphis Grizzlies (21-24)

If the playoffs started today, Memphis would sneak in as the No. 8 seed. Phoenix is 2 games behind the Grizzlies for the final spot. Both teams are an identical 23-21-1 ATS on the season. The Suns have been a bit of a road warrior when it comes to covering the spread. Phoenix is 10-14-1 ATS at home, but 13-7 ATS on the road. The Grizzlies are -2.6 in average point differential while the Suns are -0.9. This line opened with Memphis listed as a short 2.5-point favorite. The Suns have value as a conference dog with a high total 230 or more (42-22 ATS, 66% this season and 56% ATS since 2005). We've also seen early smart money hit the under, dropping the total from 236 to 235.5. 

6 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets (18-25) at New York Knicks (12-34) 

This line looks way too good to be true for the public. Yes, the Nets are struggling (3-7 last 10). But the Knicks are tied for the third-worst record in the NBA. So why did this line open with the Nets listed as only a 1-point road favorite? Sharps smell a rat. The Nets are 18-25 ATS this season while the Knicks, despite their putrid record, are a surprisingly respectable 24-22 ATS. New York also enjoys a rest advantage as the Knicks last played on Friday and the Nets are on the 2nd night of a back-to-back. After opening at +1, New York has moved to a 1.5-point favorite behind clear pro money. 

6 p.m. ET: Washington Wizards (15-29) at Atlanta Hawks (11-35)

The public sees two awful teams going head-to-head and doesn't know which way to go. But pros have taken a clear position. This line opened with Atlanta listed as a 2-point home favorite. The line has quickly fallen to 1.5 or even 1 at some shops, signaling smart money backing road dog Washington plus the points. The Wizards are -5.02 in average point differential while the Hawks are a league-worst -9.7. Washington also enjoys a rest advantage, having last played on Thursday while the Hawks played on Friday. The Wizards also fit the conference dog with a high total 230 or more system (42-22 ATS, 66% this season and 56% ATS since 2005). 

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