Sharp bettors pound NCAA opening lines
Minutes after the NCAA Tournament selection committee revealed the bracket Sunday, the South Point posted lines on all 32 games and took up to $10,000 a side at the counter.
Updated March 12, 2023 - 11:03 pm
Minutes after the NCAA Tournament selection committee revealed the bracket Sunday, the South Point sportsbook posted point spreads on all 32 games and took up to $10,000 a side at the counter.
The sharp action and line moves that followed came fast and furious.
In the first hour alone, the book took 20 limit bets (including several $3,000 max bets on the mobile app) and made 20 line moves.
“We wrote a ton of business,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “It’s been fantastic both on the app and at the counter. We got a couple guys betting $100 or whatever, but it was mostly nickels ($500), dimes ($1,000) and 10 dimes ($10,000).
“There was a lot of sharp action.”
The book disagreed with the committee in several cases, as three lower seeds are favored over higher seeds: No. 10 Utah State -2 over No. 7 Missouri, No. 9 West Virginia -2 over No. 8 Maryland and No. 9 Auburn -1 over No. 8 Iowa.
Also, No. 10 Boise State is a pick’em over No. 7 Northwestern after opening as a 2-point underdog.
”We don’t make the seeds. We make the numbers,” Andrews said. “I think we do a better job than the committee.”
When the matchups were released, Andrews, Gaughan Gaming sportsbook director Vinny Magliulo and fellow longtime Las Vegas oddsmakers Jimmy Vaccaro and Tony Sinisi made their numbers on each game. In some cases, the lines differed by three points. Andrews had the final say.
“It’s always good to get different opinions,” Magliulo said. “We were pretty close on the games. But it’s good to get variation, then talk about why there’s variation.”
The biggest line move was Tennessee dropping from a 13-point favorite over Louisiana to -10.
“We got bet a couple times on Louisiana,” Andrews said. “We just opened the best number we could. But guys had different opinions. That’s what makes horse racing.”
Andrews said his book also took limit bets on Southeast Missouri State, Memphis, Miami, Kent State, Texas Southern, Montana State, Iona, Kennesaw State, Boise State, College of Charleston and Arkansas.
“Let’s face it, 85 to 90 percent of the business is still to come, starting on Wednesday night,” Magliulo said.
Here are the other biggest early moves:
■ Xavier -14 to -11½ over Kennesaw State;
■ Gonzaga -17 to -15 over Grand Canyon;
■ Connecticut -11 to -9 over Iona;
■ Texas -15 to -13½ over Colgate;
■ Auburn -2½ to -1 over Iowa;
■ Houston -21 to -19½ over Northern Kentucky.
When filling out a bracket, it’s become customary to pick a 12-seed to upset a 5-seed. In 32 of the past 37 NCAA Tournaments, No. 12 seeds have won at least one first-round game, including two last year.
Based on the lines, No. 12 Drake has the best chance of an outright upset, though the early money went against the Bulldogs. No. 5 Miami opened as a 2-point favorite over Drake before it was bet up to -3.
No. 12 seed College of Charleston settled as a 4½-point underdog to San Diego State after the line opened at 5 and dipped to 4. No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth is +3½ to Saint Mary’s after the line opened at 4, and No. 12 Oral Roberts is +6 over Duke.
In the First Four opener Tuesday, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is -3½ over Southeast Missouri State after the line opened at 4 and dipped to 3.
In Tuesday’s nightcap, Mississippi State is -1½ over Pittsburgh after it opened -1.
In Wednesday’s First Four games, Texas Southern is -2 over Fairleigh Dickinson after opening -1½, and Arizona State is -1½ over UNR.
Paul Stone, a Texas-based professional sports bettor, likes Illinois +3 over Arkansas in Thursday’s first-round game.
“I really thought this game would be lined closer to pick,” said Stone (@paulstonesports).
Arkansas is 3-7 ATS as a favorite of 7½ points or fewer this season, Stone noted.
“The Razorbacks’ overall body of work has been choppy this season,” he said. “And, although it’s up for debate, I believe the Big Ten is the slightly tougher league from top to bottom.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.