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NCAA Tournament Odds, Betting Trends: Biggest Early Line Moves & Most Popular March Madness Picks

NCAA Tournament Odds, Betting Trends: Biggest Early Line Moves & Most Popular March Madness Picks article feature image
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Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Daquan Smith

Sportsbooks will be taking action on the first round of the NCAA Tournament throughout the week. But the early line moves can tell us a lot about what the sharps and semi-sharps have an interest in as they are typically the ones that get in on the early action.

It’s not an exact science as the public gets action on March Madness openers as well, but sportsbooks often move their lines based on what respected bettors are taking, not necessarily what the public is taking.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest early line moves according to BetMGM.

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Biggest NCAA Tournament Line Moves

*Odds as of Monday afternoon

No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 10 San Francisco

9:40 p.m. ET on Thursday

Murray State opened as the +1.5 underdog in this matchup against San Francisco, but action has been coming in on the Racers and the spread flipped to favor Murray State -1.5.

BetMGM is reporting 86% of the bets and 85% of the handle on Murray State.

The move: Murray State +1.5 to -1.5


No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Georgia State

4:15 p.m. ET on Thursday

Gonzaga is typically a heavily-bet public side. The Zags are known to be able to cover just about any number, but the sharp bettors don’t appear to have liked that opening number for the Zags as they have gone from -26.5 to -23.5.

Gonzaga is still getting plenty of action at 69% of the bets and 79% of the handle.

The move: Georgia State +26.5 to +23.5


No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 Colgate

7:50 p.m. ET on Friday

There’s a lot of interest in the underdog in this game. The majority of the action has been on Colgate and that has forced the books to continue to move this line down.

Colgate is getting 78% of the tickets and 84% of the money.

The move: Colgate +9.5 to +7.5

No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Delaware

2:45 p.m. ET on Friday

This is another underdog that’s getting plenty of interest in the first round. The Blue Hens are landing 89% of the bets and a whopping 98% of the handle so far, forcing oddsmakers to move this line two points off the opener.

The move: Delaware +17.5 to +15.5


NCAA Tournament Most Popular Picks

These are the sides that have been getting the most action so far according to BetMGM.

No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Vermont

9:20 p.m. ET on Thursday

Vermont +5.5 is getting the most tickets and the biggest handle so far.

It is interesting that the spread hasn’t moved off the line of +5.5 despite all of the one-way action — Vermont is getting 68% of the bets and 86% of the handle.

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No. 4 Providence vs. No. 13 South Dakota State

12:40 p.m. ET on Thursday

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the public loves the Jackrabbits. Their style of play of high-volume three-point shooting makes them extremely likable.

SDSU +2.5 is the second most popular bet on the board according to BetMGM.

No. 6 Colorado State vs. No. 11 Michigan

12:15 p.m. ET on Thursday

This is the most bet game by ticket count and the public is leaning toward Michigan, but this game is still getting good two-way action.

Michigan -2.5 is the third-most popular bet on the board.

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