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Circa takes flurry of $10K sharp bets on NCAA Tournament

Before Derek Stevens opened Circa, the Las Vegas casino owner went on NCAA Tournament betting binges in which he would wager $11,000 to win $10,000 on each of the first 32 lines posted on Selection Sunday.

To commemorate Stevens’ tradition, Circa sportsbook took $10,000 limit bets on its mobile app Sunday on the opening lines of the NCAA Tournament.

“We’re just trying to let people know that this is the place to come if you want to bet large amounts on the app and not have to plead your case for larger limits,” Circa sportsbook director Matthew Metcalf said. “It went really well. We took a lot of action on the mobile app. We probably took about 50 $10,000 limit bets in the first hour.”

Six limit bets were placed on the Baylor-Hartford game alone. The No. 1 Bears opened as the largest favorites on the board, at -25 over the No. 16 Hawks, and the game was bet up to 27 before dipping back to 26.

“There’s been awesome two-way action between 26 and 27,” Metcalf said. “The sharps are battling it out on that one.”

Sharp plays

Metcalf said he would classify pretty much all of the bets Circa has taken so far as sharp plays. Wiseguys have been all over UC Santa Barbara, which was a 10-point underdog to Creighton before the number was bet to 6½.

“That’s, by far, the biggest move I’ve seen,” Metcalf said. “People just don’t want anything to do with Creighton right now.”

Creighton is coming off a stunning 73-48 loss to Georgetown in the Big East tournament title game.

“That’s probably got a lot to do with that,” Metcalf said. “We opened it 10 and took a bet right away and went down to 9. That didn’t surprise me, but what has surprised me is that it’s moved all the way down to 6½. I would think 6½ is too low.”

Other sharp plays are Loyola-Chicago, a 2-point favorite over Georgia Tech; Liberty, a 7½-point underdog to Oklahoma State; and Oklahoma, a 2-point favorite over Missouri after the line opened at pick.

Line moves

Defending national champion Virginia opened as a 10½-point favorite over Ohio, but sharp action on the underdog has caused the line to drop to 7½ at William Hill. Part of the move is because the majority of the Cavaliers’ team is in COVID-19 quarantine and part of it is because of defensive-minded Virginia’s slow-paced style of play.

“Ohio finished the season strong, and Virginia’s not one of those teams that has the firepower to always pull away,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “But I still think we’re going to need Ohio in this one. The masses will be on Virginia, especially with them now getting a better number.”

The Oklahoma State-Liberty total has dropped from 147 to 142 at William Hill.

Regional odds

Las Vegas sportsbooks posted NCAA Tournament regional odds Monday. No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga is the -250 favorite at the Westgate to win the West Regional. Iowa is the 5-1 second choice.

No. 1 seed Illinois is the +150 favorite to win the Midwest, followed by Houston at 2-1.

No. 1 seed Baylor is the +160 favorite to win the South. Ohio State is the 4-1 second pick.

No. 1 seed Michigan is the +160 favorite to win the East, followed by Alabama at 4-1 and Texas at 5-1.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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