It’s the final week in March which means sports bettors are itching for their college basketball fix, but tonight they’re forced to settle for the NIT. That hasn’t stopped bettors from wagering on the National Invitation Tournament (no, it doesn’t stand for “Not In Tournament” like I thought when I was younger), as the two semifinal matchups will end up being the most heavily bet games across all sports tonight.
Neither game has produced a particularly lopsided betting pattern, though, with both around the 60-40 mark. But at the pro level, the public has made their favorite sides pretty clear in three games, with two tipping off at 8 p.m. ET, and one at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Portland Trail Blazers (-1) at New Orleans Pelicans
8 p.m. ET
Opening at Nola -1, this game has actually jumped the fence thanks to Portland’s heavy backing. Seventy-five percent of bettors and 72% of spread dollars have taken the Blazers to this point.
Why the public loves Portland: Portland is 8-2 in their last 10, cementing itself as a force in the West as they continue to hold the third-place spot. Their recent against the spread record is even better, at 8-1-1 to the Pelicans’ 5-5.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-3) at Miami Heat
8 p.m. ET
The Cavs have received more bets than any other NBA team tonight, getting 78% of spread bets in what will likely be the most heavily bet NBA game. Despite that, they’ve actually lost a half-point around some of the market. Bookmaker.eu now has Cleveland listed as only a 2.5-point favorite.
Why the public loves Cleveland: More recency bias is taking effect here as bettors load up on another hot team in the Cavs, who have now won five straight. Miami, on the other hand, will be attempting to avoid a third-straight loss tonight, and will again be without Hassan Whiteside.
Indiana Pacers (-7.5) at Golden State Warriors
10:30 p.m ET
The second-most popular team tonight, Indiana, has attracted 77% of bettors as a 7.5-point favorite against the Warriors’ bench.
Why the public loves Indiana: As I mentioned they’re playing against the bench.
Photo: Pacers guard Victor Oladipo