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2021 NCAA Tournament Spreads on the Move for Ohio, UC Santa Barbara & More

2021 NCAA Tournament Spreads on the Move for Ohio, UC Santa Barbara & More article feature image

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jason Preston (left) and Jeff Boals.

A pair of underdogs have seen enough early action to force line movement ahead of the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio and UC Santa Barbara are two of the teams that William Hill has had to adjust based on early sharp action. The biggest reaction so far has been on No. 13 Ohio against No. 4 Virginia.

The Bobcats opened as 10.5-point underdogs but stand at +7.5 as of Monday at 5 p.m. ET.

Led by dynamic do-it-all guard Jason Preston and rising head coach Jeff Boals, Ohio's run through the MAC Tournament grabbed the attention of sharps. Preston used an early season stage against Illinois to put his name on the national radar with 31 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds in a 77-75 loss in November.

“Obviously, sharp money on the dog," said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill. "I see why — Ohio finished the season strong and Virginia’s not one of those teams that has the firepower to always pull away. 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.”

Another double-digit seed getting attention is UC Santa Barbara as a 12 seed against No. 5 Creighton. UCSB opened as 8-point underdogs but was quickly bet down to +6.5.

That movement is in line with Ryan Collinsworth's model, which gives UCSB the best chance to win as a "Cinderella" in the first round.

Illinois, Baylor and Houston are some notable favorites that are seeing early adjustments despite their large spreads. The Illini are up to -22.5 from -21 against Drexel. Baylor moved to -26 from -24.5 against Harford. Houston opened as an 18.5-point favorite against Cleveland State but has been bet up to a 20-point favorite.

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