HomeCollege BasketballBetting Splits and March Madness Sharp Money Picks for Friday March 22nd

    Betting Splits and March Madness Sharp Money Picks for Friday March 22nd

    Josh Appelbaum examines where smart money is leaning for Northwestern-Florida Atlantic, New Mexico-Clemson, James Madison-Wisconsin and Grand Canyon-Saint Mary's.

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    The NCAA Tournament continues today with 16 more First Round matchups to choose from. You can track the latest odds and betting percentages for every game using our VSiN Betting Splits.

    In the meantime, let’s examine where smart money is leaning for a handful of March Madness games today.

     

    12:15 p.m. ET: Northwestern vs Florida Atlantic (-4.5, 143)

    This East Region first round matchup will be played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Northwestern (21-11) is the 9-seed and just fell to Wisconsin 70-61 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Florida Atlantic (25-8) is the 8-seed and just lost to Temple 74-73 in the AAC tournament semifinals. This line opened with Florida Atlantic listed as a 2-point neutral site favorite. Pros have gotten down hard on Florida Atlantic, steaming the Owls up from -2 to -4.5. Florida Atlantic is also seeing sharp “game day movement” as they have risen from -3.5 to -4.5 since this morning. Game day movement is critical because it takes place when limits are raised and the biggest bets come in. This line movement is also notable because the public is split down the middle with 50% of spread bets on both teams. In a vacuum, a line shouldn’t move at all if the tickets are even. So we know based upon the steam move that pros have sided with the Owls. Florida Atlantic has the better offensive efficiency (17th vs 30th), better effective field goal percentage (55% vs 53%) and better offensive rebound percentage (34% vs 26%). Ken Pom has Florida Atlantic winning by one point (75-74). Those looking to protect themselves from a tight win that may not cover the number could elect to play FAU on the moneyline at -190. Northwestern is also dealing with injuries to several players, missing Ty Berry (11.6 PPG) and Matthew Nicholson (5.3 PPG).

    3:10 p.m. ET: New Mexico (-2.5, 152) vs Clemson

    This West Region first round matchup will be played at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. New Mexico (26-9) is the 11-seed and just beat San Diego State 68-61 to win the Mountain West tournament. On the flip side, Clemson (21-11) just got crushed by Boston College 76-55 in the second round of the ACC tournament. This line opened with New Mexico listed as a 2.5-point neutral site favorite. The public is rushing to the window to back New Mexico laying short chalk. However, despite receiving 74% of spread bets we’ve seen New Mexico remain stagnant at -2.5. Normally, if a team is getting such lopsided support you would see them rise from -2.5 to -3 or -3.5. The fact that this line hasn’t moved despite such lofty support signals a sharp line freeze on Clemson, with pros buying low on the unpopular Tigers plus the points. Clemson is one of the top contrarian plays of the day, receiving only 26% of spread bets. Clemson has the better offensive efficiency (24th vs 39th), better effective field goal percentage (54% vs 51%), better three point shooting (35% vs 33%) and far better free throw shooting (79% vs 72%), which could prove critical in a tight game. Ken Pom has New Mexico winning by two points (78-76), which provides actionable value on Clemson plus the hook (+2.5).

    9:40 p.m. ET: James Madison vs Wisconsin (-5.5, 145)

    This South Region first round matchup will be played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. James Madison (31-3) is the 12-seed and just crushed Arkansas State 91-71 to win the Sun Belt tournament. Conversely, Wisconsin (22-13) is the 5-seed and just came up short against Illinois 93-87 in the Big Ten tournament final. This line opened with Wisconsin listed as a 4.5-point neutral site favorite. The public has fallen in love with James Madison and 71% of spread bets are taking the points with the Dukes. However, despite this lopsided support we’ve actually seen the line move further toward Wisconsin -4.5 to -5.5. Why would the oddsmakers adjust the line in Wisconsin’s favor if the public is hammering James Madison? Because pros are fading the trendy dog Dukes and instead backing Wisconsin, triggering sharp reverse line movement in favor of the Badgers. Wisconsin is one of the top contrarian plays of the day, receiving only 29% of spread bets. Wisconsin has the better offensive efficiency (11th vs 54th), better defensive efficiency (47th vs 80th) and better free-throw shooting (76% vs 71%). Ken Pom has Wisconsin winning by five points (77-72). He also has Wisconsin ranked much higher (17th vs 59th). Those looking to back the Badgers would be wise to shop around or wait to see if they can get a -5.

    10:05 p.m. ET: Grand Canyon vs Saint Mary’s (-5.5, 131.5)

    This West Region first round matchup will be played at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Washington. Grand Canyon (29-4) is the 12-seed and just brushed aside UT Arlington 89-74 to win the WAC tournament. On the other hand, Saint Mary’s (26-7) is the 5-seed and just bested Gonzaga 69-60 to win the WCC tournament. This line opened with Saint Mary’s listed as a 5-point neutral site favorite. The public thinks this line is way too high and they’re grabbing the points with Grand Canyon. However, despite 69% of spread bets taking Grand Canyon we’ve seen the line inch further toward Saint Mary’s -5 to -5.5. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the Saint Mary’s, with pros fading the trendy dog Lopes and instead backing the unpopular favorite Gaels. Saint Mary’s is one of the top contrarian plays of the day, receiving only 31% of spread bets. Saint Mary’s has the better offensive efficiency (42nd vs 61st), better defensive efficiency (14th vs 49th), better offensive rebound percentage (39% vs 35%) and takes better care of the ball (101st in turnovers vs 228th). Ken Pom has Saint Mary’s winning by four points (69-65). He also has Saint Mary’s ranked much higher (18th vs 53rd). Those looking to back Saint Mary’s would be wise to shop around or wait to see if they can get a -5.

    Josh Appelbaum
    Josh Appelbaum
    Josh Appelbaum is a Sports Betting Analyst at VSiN and has been working in the betting industry since 2011. He has been with VSiN since 2019, contributing data-driven articles to VSiN.com, hosting the Morning Bets and Market Insights Podcasts and appearing on VSiN and DraftKings programs such as Follow the Money, The Lombardi Line, Sharp Money and The Sweat. He is a contrarian bettor and also the author of The Everything Guide to Sports Betting.

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