Tuley's Takes on Final Four: Dogs back in business

March 29, 2022 08:29 PM
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We had another exciting week in (and out of) the Tuley’s Takes office with the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight as we mixed in my middle daughter, Peyton, having the lead in her high school play and making two round trips to and from Flagstaff, Ariz., to bring our oldest child, Jordyn, back home from college to be part of the family fun.

We also had fun with our Sweet 16 plays posted in last week’s Point Spread Weekly. I fully disclosed that I didn’t feel as strong with Texas Tech vs. Duke and Houston vs. Arizona on Thursday and ended up splitting those picks, but loved Providence + 7.5 vs. Kansas and Saint Peter’s + 12.5 vs. Purdue on Friday and swept those as Providence covered in a 66-61 loss while St. Peter’s pulled the outright upset.

The Elite Eight didn’t go as well for yours truly in the daily version of this column, “Tuley’s Takes Today” at VSiN.com as we lost with Arkansas + 4 vs. Duke on Saturday and Saint Peter’s + 8.5 vs. North Carolina on Sunday as chalk bettors got a bit of revenge as faves went 3-1 SU and ATS in the regional title games.

We’re still down a little bit overall in the NCAA Tournament, which is a little disappointing as underdogs have gone 33-26 ATS (55.9 percent) with one pick-’em (Duke-Texas Tech last Thursday). As I wrote in PSW last week, I did hit some other dogs that I hadn’t posted in my columns, but not enough to make up for my other losses, especially if you count all of my busted brackets.

But there’s still hope as we like both dogs in the Final Four on Saturday, as I told my VSiN colleague Scott Seidenberg on “The Lookahead” on Sunday night. Programming note: my segment will move up to 10:10 p.m. ET this Sunday as we recap the weekend’s action, including the Final Four, and preview Monday’s national title game.

The big trend that emerged over the weekend was Unders (and first-half Unders) going 11-1 from Thursday through Sunday. That was a combination of games being played in bigger arenas with different shooting backgrounds as well as a lot of the teams that had been advancing were actually playing defense. That run improved Unders to 34-26 (56.7 percent) overall in the tournament after Overs had led 25-23 in the first two rounds the prior weekend.

With the Final Four being held in the cavernous Superdome in New Orleans, my advice is that if you’re been riding the Under trends and have won several units, feel free to ride it until it ends as you’re playing with house money. However, if you’re just realizing this now, you’ve probably missed the boat and should probably pass. In fact, an argument could be made that the Villanova-Kansas betting total of 133 points and North Carolina-Duke total of 151 have been set a little low due to the recent results, and perhaps the value would be to fade the trend with the Over. I missed the boat, so I’ll be passing and expect that we’ll see a split anyway.

Without further ado, let’s get to the Final Four and then add a few notes on the NBA and NHL.

Tuley's Takes on the Final Four

Villanova (+ 4.5) vs. Kansas

We passed on the Houston-Villanova game last Saturday as we saw it as a toss-up and really looked forward to betting the victor in this anticipated matchup against Kansas. Both teams have been playing excellent defense and we saw either as very capable of upsetting Kansas, which is the last remaining No. 1 seed. Unfortunately, Nova’s Justin Moore (15 points and 4.9 rebounds per game) suffered a torn Achilles on a non-contact injury in the final minute of Saturday’s victory and will miss the rest of the season. On Sunday, some books opened as low as Kansas -2.5 and -3, but we saw others adjust to Kansas -4 and then some books (Circa Sports and BetMGM) went to -4.5 later Sunday night. Longtime readers of mine know I love to bet on bad news and the additional points we usually receive as we often see these teams have other players pick up the slack for a fallen teammate, at least in the short term. This happens in football as well as basketball where I have readers ask “don’t you know so-and-so is out?” when questioning a pick. But we’re counting on sixth man Caleb Daniels (who is from New Orleans if you’re looking for another narrative to support this play) to move into the starting lineup and coach Jay Wright, who we give an edge over Kansas’ Bill Self, to find minutes down the bench. We also expect Wright to slow the game down like he did when Collin Gillespie was out last year, so that should also lead to a relatively tight, low-scoring game and make the 4.5 points pretty valuable if it comes down to the final possessions. It also supports those looking to ride the Under trend.

North Carolina + 4 vs. Duke

I’m not sure this is the “matchup that everyone was wanting” as there were plenty of people, myself included, cheering for other teams on the left side of the bracket, but TV executives and ad buyers are certainly high-fiving as this is a very popular matchup with these rivals meeting for the first time in the NCAA Tournament as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski continues his extended last dance. No one really expected this when North Carolina spoiled Coach K’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium just four weeks ago. At the time, the narrative was that maybe the Duke blue-chip players were collapsing under the pressure of being Krzyzewski’s last team, but since then they’ve been shouldering that burden and have come through in pressure-packed, late-game situations. So, will the Blue Devils avenge that embarrassing loss to the Tar Heels? I’m not a big “revenge” handicapper and usually prefer the team that won the previous meeting and proved it could beat the other team, especially when we’re getting points (note: Duke blew out UNC 87-67 in the meeting before that at Chapel Hill). The Tar Heels are great at denying second chances as they usually dominate the defensive boards, so unless the Blue Devils shoot out the lights (again, we have our doubts with the shooting background in the Superdome), we see North Carolina as the right side and the best bet of the weekend.

Tuley's Takes on the NBA

Even though we were trading money during the NCAA Tournament, we’ve been able to continue our hot run in “Tuley’s Takes Today” as we’re still 30-13-1 ATS with our top play of the day over the past 44 days from Super Sunday (Bengals + 4.5) through Monday. A lot of that is due to our swagger and anti-swagger plays in the NBA. We hit with the Thunder + 14 vs. the Nuggets on Saturday, choosing it as our top play instead of Arkansas, after the Thunder had snapped its 10-game losing streak the game before.

Our next play will be the Heat + 4 at the Celtics on Wednesday. This is actually an anti-swagger play against the Celtics, who had a six-game winning streak snapped on Monday night in Toronto. Robert Williams III is out and the Celtics were without three other starters, but a streak-ender is a streak-ender, and we’re fading them in this spot. Note: When I was on “The Lookahead” with Seidenberg on Sunday night, he proposed that the Heat could be a potential swagger play if they snapped their four-game losing streak (though we usually set the criteria of six games for a meaningful enough streak) against the Kings and then were a dog in this spot against the Celtics. I gave my lukewarm approval at the time, but with the Celtics losing, we’re on the same page.

We always like to look forward to potential swagger and anti-swagger plays, so the longest current streaks heading into Tuesday night were the Suns on an eight-game winning streak (they visit the Warriors on Wednesday night) and the Grizzlies on a five-game winning streak (they visit the Spurs on Wednesday night), while the Clippers have the longest skid at five straight losses (they were to host the Jazz, who are on a four-game losing streak of their own, on Tuesday night).

Tuley's Takes on the NHL

We had a tough weekend with NHL first-period Overs as the usually reliable Devils let us down twice, but we’ve continued to grind out profits overall.

I want to repeat something I wrote in Tuesday’s “Tuley’s Takes Today” as I think it’s important for my readers to understand, especially those who wonder why I continue to make an exception to my “dog-or-pass” philosophy with these 1P Over 1.5 bets where I’m actually laying around -150 and even up to -195. 

“Now, I gave out the play in yesterday’s column at Coyotes-Oilers 1P Over -145 as that was the overnight price at BetMGM (note: it was also available as low as -130 at DraftKings in states where they operate). One of our readers on Twitter, @LouisStrati, mentioned that the line was up to -155.

“This brings up a point I’d like to make, which longtime readers should already know as it’s been going on since we first started playing these 1P Overs in winter 2019 with the “Follow the Money 5” as those were our personal ATM for more than three months. We almost always get lower vig on these the night before or early in the morning before the public jumps all over these plays. It happens time and time again. In addition, these plays have been so successful that a lot of books go to Over 2 to take away our wins (and cause a push) if there are two goals in the opening 20 minutes.

“Regular followers of these plays should know this and try to get the best numbers available; in fact, I know many readers who say they are able to predict which plays I’m going to recommend and go ahead and bet them even before seeing my column. It’s really not rocket science as I’ve said over and over that we look for games with a full-game total of 6.5 and/or teams that have been consistently strong with 1P Overs on the season (Devils, Panthers, Wild, Blue Jackets, Oilers) or on hot current runs based on the betting stats by @PSUOtto on Twitter.

“We have a saying in the Tuley’s Takes home office: Give someone a winner and they eat prime rib for a night, but teach them to pick winners and they eat prime rib for a lifetime.”

So we’ll continue to post these daily plays as long as we’re making money on them, but readers should have enough understanding of these plays where you can be proactive and get the lowest vig possible. Having said all that, our recommended 1P Over plays will probably be Kings-Oilers on Wednesday and Devils-Bruins on Thursday with possibly the Blackhawks-Panthers or Penguins-Wild. 

Good luck. And enjoy the prime rib!

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