Today marks the busiest college hoops postseason day yet with more than 30 conference tournament games on tap. We are graced with an all-day sweat with the first matchup kicking off at 11:30 a.m. ET and the last game starting at 11:30 p.m. ET.
However, lost in the madness is a seminal moment in legalized sports betting that occurred on Monday. Illinois sports betting officially went live with the first legal bets being placed at the BetRivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. The Illinois Sports Wagering Act was passed in 2019 and Rivers is the first go live with several other casinos expected to open in the coming weeks and months. Mobile wagering was included in the bill but apps haven't come online yet. Former Blackhawks forward Ed Olczyk placed the first legal wager at BetRivers, taking the Chicago White Sox to win the AL Pennant at + 1600.
Illinois is now the 15th state to go live with legal sports betting. Illinois is projecting $384 million to $680 million in annual revenue. Several experts believe Illinois could become the next legal sports betting giant next to Nevada and New Jersey. Illinois is home to millions of die-hard pro and college sports fans who cheer on some of America's most iconic teams, including the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox. Illinois also has the 5th largest population of any state in America, which sets it apart as a massive market with limitless potential.
On another note, one big takeaway in the NBA last night was another super-high total going under. The Timberwolves-Rockets total opened at 244 and was bet up to 250. Houston won 117-111, landing on 228 and easily cashing the under.
When the total is 240 or higher, the under is 19-9 (67.8%) this season and 34-19 (64.2%) since 2005 according to Bet Labs Sports. It may seem obvious, but betting the under when the total is extremely high is a smart bet, especially if the public bets it up and creates a heavily contrarian, inflated line scenario.
Wednesday's action features 31 college basketball games, including several starting in the early afternoon. We also have 6 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of sharp action across the marketplace, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.
In the meantime, let's discuss several Wednesday games across the hardwood and ice receiving sharp action from respected pro bettors.
3 p.m. ET: Utah (16-14) vs. Oregon State (17-13)
This first-round Pac 12 tournament showdown takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, home of the Golden Knights. Both teams have similar records and are 7-11 in conference play. Utah won their regular-season finale against Colorado 74-72 as 3-point dogs, which snapped a two-game losing skid. Oregon State won its last two games, including a 74-56 thrashing of Cal as a 9-point favorite. This line opened with the Beavers listed as 2.5-point favorites. Pros immediately hit Oregon State, driving the line up to 3. According to Ken Pom's advanced analytics, Oregon State is 87th overall while Utah is 111. Pomeroy has Oregon State winning this game by three points (71-68). These teams split their two matchups this season, with Utah winning 81-69 on Jan. 2 and Oregon State winning 70-51 on Feb. 13.
10 p.m. ET: UTEP (17-14) vs Marshall (16-15)
This is the first round of the Conference USA tournament. It takes place at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, which provides a "home" court advantage for UTEP. Both teams are playing well heading into this matchup. UTEP has won four straight, most recently defeating Rice 77-72 as 3-point dogs. Marshall has won four of its last five games, including an 82-77 win over UTSA as 1-point dogs their last time out. This line opened with Marshall listed as a 2.5-point favorite. Despite two-thirds of bets backing the Thundering Herd, this line has fallen down to 2 or even 1.5 at some shops. This signals some sharp reverse line movement with pros getting down on UTEP at + 2.5. This is a revenge spot for UTEP, which lost to Marshall 71-61 of Feb. 15. Ken Pom projects Marshall to win this game by two points (70-68), which means the hook could end up being key.
More sharp action
Washington State + 9 to + 8.5 vs Colorado
Arkansas -8.5 to -9 vs Vanderbilt
Mississippi -2.5 to -3 vs Georgia
Boston College + 9.5 to + 9 vs Notre Dame
Northwestern + 8.5 to + 8 vs Minnesota
Idaho State + 4.5 to + 4 vs Northern Arizona
Weber State + 4.5 to + 4 vs Sacramento State
10:30 p.m. ET: Ottawa Senators (25-32-12) at Los Angeles Kings (28-35-6)
Both of these teams are at the bottom of their respective conferences. They have nearly identical won-loss records and both sit at 62 points apiece. But Los Angeles holds a few distinct advantages in this non-conference showdown. Ottawa is -48 in goals for vs goals against. Los Angeles is slightly better at -35. The Senators are 7-19-6 on the road while the Kings are 18-13-2 at home. This line opened with Los Angeles listed as a -155 home favorite and it has quickly been bet up to -160. The Kings have a big rest vs tired edge. The Senators are on the second leg of a back-to-back while the Kings last played on Monday. The Kings are also playing great as of late, having won six games in a row. Also, when two sub-.500 teams face off the favorite is 64% this season.