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Sweet 16 Vegas Report: Sharps, Squares Disagree on UNC-Auburn, Public Fading Duke

Sweet 16 Vegas Report: Sharps, Squares Disagree on UNC-Auburn, Public Fading Duke article feature image

Jeremy Brevard, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Cam Reddish

LAS VEGAS — It always takes a few days for everybody in Vegas to recover from the first few days of March Madness, but by the time Wednesday evening comes around bookmakers and bettors alike are ready to get back to the window.

I spoke with a few bookmakers around Sin City to get an idea for how the betting market

Even though things were very chalky on Saturday and Sunday (mostly Sunday) the end result has created some outstanding matchups the next couple of days.

I chatted with a few key sports book representatives and all see these games as very interesting, exciting games but the public has taken their stand suggesting which side the books will be rooting for.

Betting odds: Florida State vs. Gonzaga

  • Spread: Gonzaga -8
  • Over/Under: 148.5
  • Time: 7:09 p.m. ET
  • Channel: CBS

The public is all over the underdog in this one.

Derek Wilkinson, the executive manager at the Westgate SuperBook, thinks that casual bettors remember last year, when Florida State pulled off an upset over Gonzaga in this same round.

“The public is very high on Florida State, but the sharps like Gonzaga,” Wilkinson said. “The Zags are still salty about losing to Florida State in the Sweet 16 last year. They’re going to come out looking to make a statement in my opinion. Personally, I don’t expect this game to be all that close. I see Gonzaga winning by double digits here.”

Over at Caesars’, Jeff Davis, the director of trading, thinks FSU had a fairly soft draw and now things pick up significantly for the Seminoles. Recreational bettors disagree.

“Let’s face it, Vermont and Murray State were not the toughest opponents to have faced in the first two rounds,” Davis began. “I think when we look back we’ll realize Murray State was a bit of a fraud. But still saying that, the public is still all over FSU here.

“It looks like with the way things are going we’re going to need Gonzaga pretty badly. I think the public got hurt with the Zags against Baylor when they didn’t cover and I think they’re looking to take it out on them and bet anyone they’re playing. But the sharps seems to have stayed confident on Gonzaga. We’re not getting heavy action from them but they definitely haven’t lost confidence in them the way the public has,” Davis said.

Betting odds: Purdue vs. Tennessee

  • Spread: Tennessee -1.5
  • Over/Under: 146.5
  • Time: 7:29 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TBS

According to Wilkinson most of the action is coming in on the Vols in this one.

“We’ve been getting a lot of action on Tennessee from both the wiseguys and the public.” Wilkinson said, “Our line is Tennessee -2 and I personally like Tennessee to cover easily. We’re going to need Purdue pretty heavily by game time. I know the Vols were lucky to get out of the game Sunday against Iowa considering they were up huge in the first half but they’re a deep enough team to bounce back off that game and I think they showed some class recovering the way they did.”

Casual bettors at Caesars’ are also backing the Volunteers, ticking the line up from -1 to -1.5.

“The public appears to be on Tennessee here to some extent,” Davis explained. “We really haven’t seen a lot of sharp action either way on this game. The line opened Tennessee -1 here and is now up to -1.5.”

Betting odds: Oregon vs. Virginia

  • Spread: Virginia -8.5
  • Over/Under: 119.5
  • Time: 9:57 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TBS

Once again, the betting public is all over the underdog against the No. 1 seed in this one.

“We did take some early sharp money at Virginia -7.5 which pushed the line up to -8.5 here and we also took some over money at 118 and our total is now 119.5,” Davis noted. “But I’m surprised after that that the public has been lining up on Oregon. The money on each team is dead even but the ticket count is higher on the Ducks. We’re definitely seeing larger bets on Virginia but the casual bettor is all over Oregon.”

At the Westgate, Wilkinson said even though the majority of tickets are on the Ducks, their action on the Cavaliers is moving the line.

“The public is all over Oregon, but the sharps are on Virginia, for the most part. Oregon has made a nice little run, but I think that’s definitely going to end tomorrow. Our line has moved significantly in favor of Virginia despite having all our liability on Oregon from the public. I think by game time this will only continue. Possibly enough to move the line a little but anytime we’re seeing Virginia money come in, it’s usually significant,” Wilkinson said.

Betting odds: Auburn vs. UNC

  • Spread: UNC -5
  • Over/Under: 165
  • Time: 7:29 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TBS

This game has been attracting a ton of traffic and it appears it will be a classic ‘Pros vs. Joes’ matchup as sharps are on Auburn and recreational bettors are backing UNC.

But let’s start with the total. According it has been getting absolutely hammered.

“This has been the only significant line movement of all the games,” Wilkinson explained. “We opened this total at 160 and it jumped to 165 fairly quickly. I was a little surprised it dropped back to 164.5. I fully expected this number to continue to go up. I think it will throughout the day Thursday.”

“The sharps have been pounding this total since it came out late Sunday,” Davis explained. “We opened at 160.5 and I’m not sure we’ve taken a significant under bet yet. The total is now up to 164.5 and I think it only goes up right through Friday. I think there’s no reason not to think this game won’t be played at a break-neck pace.

As for the spread, Davis said the sharps haven’t weighed in yet but square bettors are backing the Heels.

“I’m still not seeing much sharp interest here on the line. We opened at -5 and it’s still parked there,” he said. “This is definitely the biggest public avalanche game that we have. The public is all over North Carolina as our ticket count is nearly 4 to 1 in favor of the Tar Heels. We’re just going to have to hope the total somehow stays low but I really don’t see that happening.”

Betting odds: Virginia Tech vs. Duke

  • Spread: Duke -7
  • Over/Under: 144
  • Time: 9:39 p.m. ET
  • Channel: CBS

This could be the most intriguing matchup of the tournament so far. A lot of people in Vegas were talking up Virginia Tech’s chances against Duke should this game happen. Well it’s here now and that buzz only got louder after Duke barely survived against UCF on Sunday night.

At most sportsbooks around Vegas this line has already dropped from Duke -8 to -7 and it seems everyone we spoke with anticipates the line to drop a bit further before tip off Friday.

“So far, all the action has been on Virginia Tech plus the points against Duke,” Wilkinson said. “That line has gone from Duke -8 down to -7 and it could drop some more if money doesn’t come in on them. I think the public saw how Duke barely got past UCF and they have their doubts.”

While bettors at the Westgate are happy to take the points with the Hokies, players at Caesars’ are bypassing the points and taking the Devils on the moneyline.

“We took some early Va Tech money right when the line came out at +8.5 and the line has steadily dropped all week to Duke-7.” Davis began. “But where we’re going to take a beating is Duke on the moneyline which is currently at -370. That appears to be the lowest all over the Strip. We’ve taken some significant action on Duke to win straight up.

“This is the same situation we had with Duke against UCF. Had Central Florida pulled that game out on Sunday it would have been massive for the book. I think the public will likely continue to support the Hokies but if we get any late Duke action it will likely be all moneyline bets so we’re definitely Virginia Tech fans on Friday,” Davis concluded.

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