John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Mike Rhoades
- NCAA Tournament first-round matchups are set, and professional bettors are wasting no time getting down on soft opening lines.
- Using The Action Network's betting tools. we examine which March Madness games are attracting sharp money.
Selection Sunday has come and gone, meaning we now know the entire 68-team field that will make up the 2019 NCAA Tournament. With first-round matchups now available, sportsbooks wasted no time posting betting lines for Thursday’s and Friday’s slate of March Madness games.
While recreational bettors — those who take a casual approach to betting and are more interested in fun or “action” than long-term profits — normally wait until later in the week to place their wagers, professionals are already getting down on a handful of games.
In fact, with soft openers offering wiseguys value aplenty, sharps have caused a handful of significant line moves based on their action alone.
Let’s take a look at which NCAA Tournament first-round games are already attracting smart money in early betting.
#11 St. Mary’s vs. #6 Villanova
Thursday, March 21
7:20 p.m. ET | TBS
According to The Action Network’s public betting data, this unassuming matchup between St. Mary’s and Villanova is the most heavily bet game of Thursday’s NCAA Tournament slate.
There’s still plenty of time for more action to come in before the Round of 64 tips, and recreational bettors primarily wait until closer to gameday to place their March Madness wagers, indicating that professionals have already found something they like in this matchup.
While not a massive discrepancy considering both tickets and money are hovering around the 50% mark, Sports Insights’ Bet Signals triggered a Steam Move at Over 129, revealing that sharp bettors immediately hit the over in this matchup, forcing oddsmakers to adjust the total up to 131.5
Sharp angle: Over (129 to 131.5)
#12 Liberty vs. #5 Mississippi State
Friday, March 22
7:27 p.m. ET | truTV
NCAA Tournament 12-5 games are typically popular upset picks, but wiseguys are eyeing this over/under, not the spread or moneyline.
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