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Sharp bettors hammer NCAA Tournament opening lines

Moments after the NCAA Tournament bracket was revealed Sunday, the South Point sportsbook posted lines on the first 32 games, and sharp bettors pounced.

About two hours later, South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews revealed 35 limit bets his book took for $10,000 each at the counter and $2,000 each on the mobile app.

“We took a lot of $10,000 bets and a lot of bets on the app, too. We’ve had quite a bit of business and a bunch of moves,” Andrews said. “We’ve been busy. They’re firing at me now.”

Andrews, who made the lines with longtime Las Vegas oddsmakers Jimmy Vaccaro, Vinny Magliulo and Tony Sinisi and South Point studio host Alex White, estimated 98 percent of the action was sharp.

The South Point took one max bet on Wagner, which opened as a 2-point favorite over Howard in Tuesday’s First Four game. But it took three limit bets on Howard, which flipped to a 3-point favorite.

“A lot of these are getting two-way action,” Andrews said.

The South Point also took five limit bets on Yale-Auburn, two on the Tigers and three on the Bulldogs (+12½).

Here are the sharp bets that were placed only on one side at the South Point (with current line):

■ Colorado State (-2 over Virginia)

■ Michigan State (-1 over Mississippi State)

■ Akron (+12½) over Creighton

■ Oakland (+13½) over Kentucky

■ Duquesne (+8) over Brigham Young

■ Drake (+1) over Washington State

■ Long Beach State (+20) over Arizona

■ South Dakota State (+15½) over Iowa State

■ Northwestern (+2½) over Florida Atlantic

■ Vermont (+11) over Duke

■ Longwood (+23) over Houston

■ Alabama (-10½) over College of Charleston

■ Grand Canyon (+5) over Saint Mary’s

■ Alabama-Birmingham (+6½) over San Diego State

Lower seeds favored

No. 9 Michigan State is one of four lower seeds favored over higher seeds.

No. 11 New Mexico is a 2½-point favorite over No. 6 Clemson at the Westgate SuperBook, No. 10 UNR is favored by 1 over No. 7 Dayton, and No. 9 Texas Christian is a 3-point favorite over No. 8 Utah State.

“The whole Mountain West got crushed by the (selection) committee,” SuperBook oddsmaker Ed Salmons said. “Even though they got six teams in there, they gave them zero credit.”

Salmons disagreed with the committee putting Boise State in a play-in game against Colorado (-2½) for a 10 seed, and said New Mexico, UNR, Utah State and San Diego State should all be higher seeds.

“They basically said if New Mexico didn’t win that (conference) tournament, they weren’t going to be part of this (NCAA) tournament,” he said. “Clemson is a highly power-rated team, and New Mexico is still favored over them.

“It shows you New Mexico is probably equal to a 5 seed, as far as power ratings, and they’ve got them seeded the same as Duquesne and UAB.”

The line is pick’em for No. 11 Oregon-No. 6 South Carolina.

Best bets

Salmons made one bet on the tournament on No. 8 Florida Atlantic -1½ (now -3) over No. 9 Northwestern.

“I thought that line was closer to 4,” he said. “Northwestern has been scuffling with injuries and scuffling to score. Their power rating has just been terrible.

“You’ve got an experienced team in FAU. They’ve been there. FAU just dumped out of their own tournament, so you kind of think they’ll come focused.”

Texas-based handicapper Paul Stone took No. 9 Texas A&M +1½ over No. 8 Nebraska when the lines came out.

The Cornhuskers went 18-1 at home this season, but Nebraska won only five of 14 games played outside of Lincoln. The Aggies beat Kentucky twice and also knocked off Iowa State.

Stone also pointed to the recent play of Texas A&M leading scorer Wade Taylor IV (18.9 points per game), who emerged from a late-season shooting slump to score a total of 82 points in three Southeastern Conference tournament games.

“I actually made Texas A&M a small favorite,” said Stone (@PaulStoneSports). “They’re the better team from the slightly better conference, in my opinion.”

Title odds

No. 1 overall seed Connecticut is the 4-1 favorite at the SuperBook to repeat as national champion, followed by No. 1 seeds Houston (5-1) and Purdue (6-1). No. 2 Arizona is 10-1, followed by No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 2 Tennessee at 16-1.

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

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