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Sharp bettors are coming off an epic weekend, highlighted by two massive Saturday covers: Duke (32% bets, 34% dollars, -7 to -8) over UNC and Florida (26% bets, 33% dollars, -4 to -5) over Kentucky. Wiseguys love this time of year because March Madness brings an influx of public bettors, leading to high ticket counts and increased contrarian value.
After examining all the percentages and line movement for Monday’s 16-game slate, here are five college basketball bets that professional players are focusing on today, including games that start at 7:00, 8:30, 9:00 and 11:30 p.m. ET.
All data as of 4:00 p.m. ET
Ohio at Miami Ohio (-3)
7:00 p.m. ET
In last week’s regular season finale, Ohio was a 4-point dog and upset Miami Ohio, 75-66. As always, public bettors are victims of recency bias. So with the two teams meeting again in tonight’s MAC first round, naturally the public is grabbing Ohio plus the points. Not the sharps. They’re fading the trendy dog. Miami Ohio is only getting 37% of bets but 68% of dollars, a sign of big, sharp wagers laying the points. Meanwhile, despite more than 60% of bets taking Ohio, the line hasn’t moved off of +3. Typically a +3 dog getting 60% or more bets would drop to +2.5. The fact the books haven’t dropped the line indicates sharp liability on Miami Ohio. In fact, the oddsmakers are juicing up the -3 on Miami Ohio, indicating the next move would be -3.5.
North Dakota State (+6) vs. South Dakota State
7:00 p.m. ET
Summit League Semifinal: Battle of the Dakotas. South Dakota State boasts an impressive 26-6 record while North Dakota State sits at 15-16. So of course, the public is laying the points and taking the favorite with the far superior record. However, despite getting more than 60% of bets, South Dakota State has fallen from -7 to -6. Why would the oddsmakers drop the line to give public South Dakota State backers a better number? Because sharps got down hard on NDKST +7.5 at BetUS, triggering a pair of steam and reverse line moves that forced the entire market to drop NDKST to +6.
NC Wilmington (+7) vs. Northeastern
8:30 p.m. ET
In this CAA semifinal showdown, recreational bettors are all over Northeastern. Why? Because the Huskies are 22-9 and NC Wilmington is 11-20. But sharps don’t bet games based on win-loss records. It’s all about covering the number. NC Wilmington is only getting 27% of bets, yet it accounts for 56% of dollars.
Meanwhile, despite the public pounding Northeastern, the line has moved toward NC Wilmington (+7.5 to +7 at Bookmaker and +8 to +7.5 at Pinnacle, the two sharpest offshore sportsbooks). Jordan Majewski also likes the matchup for NC Wilmington tonight.
San Francisco (+13) vs Gonzaga
9:00 p.m. ET
It’s March, so naturally public bettors are loading up on Gonzaga. In this WCC Semifinal matchup, the Zags (28-4, ranked 6th overall) are getting 65% of bets, however the line hasn’t moved off -13. In fact, it’s dipped down to -12.5 throughout the day. The fact that the oddsmakers won’t move the Zags to -13.5 indicates liability on San Fran (the books don’t want to give out an extra half point to sharp contrarian bettors). The Dons (18-14) are only getting 35% of bets but a whopping 73% of dollars, another indication that the smart money is on the dog.
BYU (+5.5) at Saint Mary’s
11:30 p.m. ET
In the most heavily bet game of the night, recreational bettors are loading up on Saint Mary’s (28-4, ranked 20th overall). However, sharps see value on BYU (23-9) plus the points, as detailed by the Wake and Rake Kingpin PJ Walsh earlier today. Despite receiving 63% of bets, St Mary’s hasn’t moved to -6. In fact, several times throughout the day St Mary’s has dipped to -4.5 and even briefly touched -4. This “line freeze” (and back-and-forth reverse line movement) indicates sharp liability on BYU. The Cougars also received the game’s only bet signal: a reverse line move from SBG. Additionally, BYU is only getting 37% of bets but it accounts for 55% of dollars, another sign that the smart money is grabbing the points in this WCC Semifinal matchup, not laying them.
A few reminders:
- A really high bet percentage is usually a clear indicator of who public bettors (aka the guys who don’t do this for a living) are taking. And breaking news: The majority of public bettors aren’t successful over the long haul.
- To help locate which games the pros are on, focus on the money percentage metric. If a team is getting a much higher share of dollars compared to bets, that’s a good sign that the wiseguys are on them.
- Don’t blindly bet games based on percentages. You also have to look at the line movement. One of the best sharp indicators is Reverse Line Movement: when the betting line moves in the opposite direction of the team the public is betting. Example: Duke is getting 75% of spread bets vs. North Carolina but you see the line move from Duke -1 to +1.5. That’s a sure sign the wiseguys are on UNC.
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If you have any questions about Sports Insights, the Betting Hangouts, or betting concepts in general, you can find me on twitter @Josh_Insights.
Cover Photo via James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: BYU Cougars bench cheers on the team during recent 68-60 loss vs Gonzaga