NCAA Tournament Sharp Report for Five First-Round Games

March 16, 2021 01:29 AM

The countdown to March Madness continues as we are now just two days away from the play-in games. In the meantime, bettors have a plethora of sweats to choose from today as we have 7 NBA games and 7 NHL games on Tuesday's docket. For an updated breakdown of Tuesday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 12:30 p.m. ET. I'll be joining The Lombardi Line at 1:45 p.m. ET to offer a market update. I'll also be co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3 p.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET. 

In yesterday's newsletter we discussed six First Round games garnering sharp action. Now let's dive into five more that are receiving big money from respected bettors...

Friday 12:45 p.m. ET: Colgate vs Arkansas

This South Region showdown features 14-seed Colgate (14-1) against 3-seed Arkansas (22-6). Colgate is riding a 13-game win streak and just beat Loyola Maryland 85-72 to win the Patriot League championship, covering as 10.5-point favorites. On the flip side, Arkansas lost to LSU 78-71 in the SEC tournament semifinals, losing outright as 5-point favorites. This line opened with Arkansas listed as a hefty 9.5-point favorite. The public is leaning toward laying the points with Arkansas, yet we've seen this line fall from 9.5 to 9. Some shops are even inching toward 8.5. This signals sharp reverse line movement on underdog Colgate, with wiseguy money grabbing the points. Ken Pom has Arkansas winning by eight points, which means Colgate at the current number has actionable value. Colgate will lean on their prolific offense to keep this one close. The Raiders are averaging 86.3 PPG, which is 2nd-best in the country trailing only Gonzaga. 

Friday 6:25 p.m. ET: Liberty vs Oklahoma State

This Midwest Region matchup pits 13-seed Liberty (23-5) against 4-seed Oklahoma State (20-8). Liberty has won 12-straight and just cruised through the Atlantic Sun tournament to earn an automatic bid to the Big Dance. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State made the Big 12 conference championship game but lost to Texas 91-86. This line opened with Oklahoma State listed as a 9.5-point favorite. Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys are a popular public play, yet this line has plummeted from OK State -9.5 to -7.5. This big dip was a result of sharps steaming Liberty plus the points, forcing oddsmakers to adjust the number toward the dog. Ken Pom has Liberty losing by seven points, which still provides some value on Liberty plus the hook. Liberty will look to slow the Cowboys down with their smothering defense. Liberty is only giving up 59.6 PPG this season, third-best in the nation behind only Loyola Chicago and Houston. 

Friday 7:10 p.m. ET: Wisconsin vs North Carolina

This South Region grudge match between 9-seed Wisconsin (17-12) and 8-seed North Carolina (18-10) is one of the tightest lines of the first round. Wisconsin started the season 12-3 but went just 5-9 the rest of the way, losing to Iowa 62-57 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. On the other hand, North Carolina went 6-3 down the stretch before losing to Florida State 69-66 in the ACC tournament semifinals. This line opened with North Carolina listed as a short 2-point favorite. This public is happy to fade struggling Wisconsin, yet we've seen this line fall from 2 to 1.5. This indicates smart money buying low on the Badgers plus the points. Ken Pom has Wisconsin winning this game by two points, which provides one of the biggest discrepancy plays of the first round if you want to back the Badgers. Ken Pom has Wisconsin ranked 10th and North Carolina 28th. One reason to like Wisconsin here is their senior-laden starting lineup and the fact they play in the rugged Big Ten, the best and most competitive conference in college hoops. North Carolina hails from the lesser ACC. 

Saturday 9:50 p.m. ET: Abilene Christian vs Texas 

This East Region matchup features 14-seed Abilene Christian (23-4) against 3-seed Texas (19-7). Abilene Christian is 12-1 over their last 13 games and just blitzed through their conference tournament with ease, winning the Southland championship. Now they face powerhouse Texas, who just beat Oklahoma State 91-86 in the conference championship game to win their first Big 12 title since 1995. This line opened with Texas listed as a 9-point favorite. The public is rushing to the window to lay the points with Texas, expecting an easy blowout win and cover. However, despite this lopsided support we've actually seen the line fall from 9 to 8.5. This sharp reverse line movement signals pro money grabbing Abilene Christian and the points. Ken Pom has Texas winning by eight points, which provides actionable value on Abilene Christian plus the hook. Abilene Christian is the 7th best defensive team in the country giving up only 60.5 PPG. The Wildcats also share the ball, ranking 5th in the country in assists per game (18.2). 

Saturday 9:57 p.m. ET: VCU vs Oregon

This West Region showdown pits 10-seed VCU (19-7) against 7-seed Oregon (20-6). VCU made the Atlantic 10 conference championship game but fell to St. Bonaventure 74-65. Meanwhile, Oregon suffered a quick exit in the Pac-12 tournament, falling to Oregon State 75-64 in the semifinals. This line opened with Oregon listed as a 6-point favorite. The public is split down the middle and doesn't know whether to take the points or lay them. In a vacuum, a line shouldn't move at all if the ticket count is even. However, we've seen this line dip slightly from 6 to 5.5, which indicates some respected money leaning on underdog VCU. Ken Pom has Oregon winning by just one point, which provides a massive edge to VCU at the current number. VCU will lean on their elite defense in this one. The Rams are 11th in the country in forcing turnovers.

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