Early Action Report: Sharp Money, Line Moves, Lopsided Bets, More

Early Action Report: Sharp Money, Line Moves, Lopsided Bets, More article feature image

Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

Much like an NFL slate, the NCAA Tournament offers bettors the chance to assess lines over several days leading up to the games. While some bettors will be holding off until the day of the action to place their bets, others are confident enough to hop on board early in hopes that they nab a better line.


If you’re just diving into the lines now, we’ll cover the notable line moves, games that are seeing sharp action, the public’s favorite bets, and more. Here are all of the biggest betting storylines for the first-round of games.

All data as of 11 a.m. on Tuesday; for live betting percentages and a deeper dive into our tools, check out this link.

Most Heavily Bet Thursday Games

Loyola-Chicago/Miami-Florida (-1.5): This match-up between 6-seed Miami and 11-seed Loyola Chicago is not the sexiest game on the slate, but it is attracting the most number of bets. Spread bets have been relatively split, but the line has moved in Chicago’s favor. The #11 seed has gone from +2.5 to +1.5.

South Dakota State/Ohio State (-8): We’ve seen some interesting action on both the spread and total, both of which is covered in greater detail below.

Davidson/Kentucky (-5.5): This 12/5 match-up is seeing Kentucky, the 5-seed, get 65% of bets. However, percentage of dollars wagered is closer to 50/50, which has helped Davidson move from +6 to +5.5 across the market.

Most Heavily Bet Friday Games

Providence/Texas A&M (-3.5): This is the most lopsided game of the tournament so far and by a fairly decent margin. Surprisingly, it is the dog (Providence) getting the brunt of the action.

New Mexico State/Clemson (-4.5): Once again, a large percentage of bets is favoring a Friday dog, with 12-seed New Mexico State seeing almost 80% of spread bets and a majority of the early moneyline bets.

Florida State (-1)/Missouri: This game is seeing relatively split betting percentages, as a 8/9 game should. Since opening with Missouri as a 1-point favorite, the line has since flipped in Florida State’s favor.

Lopsided Spreads

83% on Providence (+3.5): Trendy dog coming in hot! Oddly enough, the team the public is most heavily on are the 10-seed Friars vs. Texas A&M. Providence has gone from +4 to +3.5, but line movement really has not mattered when it comes to trendy dogs, as they’ve performed poorly against the spread regardless of the movement.

79% on New Mexico State (+5): Who let the trendy dogs out? Somebody call the Baha Men. The 12-seed Aggies only had seven games listed with a point spread during the regular season, they went 4-1-2 against the number. Similar to the Providence game, they’ve moved from +5.5 to +5 vs. Clemson.

75% on Gonzaga (-12.5): Finally, a favorite. The public is loading up on last year’s runner up against 13-seed UNC Greensboro, which, like the first two lopsided games, has resulted in a half point move from -12 to -12.5. At 16-7-1 ATS, Greensboro was actually the seventh-most profitable team in the nation this season.

74% on Michigan (-11): Another favorite, the 3-seeded Michigan Men and head coach John Beilein (pictured above) are actually the subject to some reverse line movement. Montana is receiving 26% of bets, but 48% of dollars, which has helped them move from their opener of +12 to +11. Both of these teams were in the top-10 most profitable ATS teams this season, with Michigan going 19-10-1 and Montana going 18-9-1.

73% on South Dakota State (+8): Yet a third trendy dog, #12 South Dakota State backers are testing their luck against THE Ohio State Buckeyes. This game originally opened with OSU as 7.5-point favorites at 5Dimes, but that line quickly went to 8.5 (which has since dropped back to 8 across the market).


Reverse Line Moves

Pennsylvania (+14) vs. Kansas: Despite 68% of bets on the 1-seed Jayhawks, Penn has moved from +16 to +14 at Bookmaker, one of the sharper offshore books.

Montana (+11) vs. Michigan: As mentioned above, a big dollar differential is favoring the Grizzlies, causing a one-point swing from +12 to +11.

Nevada (-1) vs. Texas: This game opened as a PK across most of the market, and originally, the line moved to -1 in Texas’s favor. However, it looks like bettors are backing Vegas’ baby, as a reverse line move on Nevada pushed the Wolf Pack from +1 to -1.

Largest Total Moves 

Oklahoma/Rhode Island (157.5): This matchup between the 10-seed Sooners and the 7-seed Rams has seen the largest total movement at Bookmaker since opening. The under is seeing about two thirds of total bets and more than 90% of early dollars, as well as a Steam Move. This has helped it fall from 161.5 to 157.5.

South Dakota State/Ohio State (146): We touched on this game in the lopsided spread section, but it’s seen plenty of action on the total, too. With two bet signals on the under, along with 60% of bets and 70% of dollars, the total has dropped from 149.5 to 146.

Lipscomb/North Carolina (161): This game featuring the 2-seed Tar Heels squad and nearly a 20-point spread is attracting sharp bettors on the under. We’ve tracked two bet signals on that side, despite a large majority of bets and dollars on the over, causing the total to drop from 164.5 to 161.

Stephen F. Austin/Texas Tech (137.5), Florida State/Missouri (147.5), Georgia State/Cincinnati (130): These three totals have all moved at least three points at Bookmaker. The game between 2-seed Cincinnati and 15-seed Georgia State is actually the only one of the entire bunch that has trended up, moving from 127 to 130, despite 61% of bets on the under.

Top photo: Michigan Wolverines Head Coach John Beilein

Photo via Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

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