HomeCollege BasketballBetting Splits and March Madness Sharp Money Picks for Thursday March 21st

    Betting Splits and March Madness Sharp Money Picks for Thursday March 21st

    Josh Appelbaum examines where smart money is leaning for Oregon-South Carolina, Nevada-Dayton, Colorado State-Texas and Drake-Washington State.

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    Today the Madness officially begins with a loaded slate of 16 First Round games. You can track the latest odds and betting percentages for every matchup using our VSiN Betting Splits.

    In the meantime, let’s examine where smart money is leaning for several NCAA Tournament games today.

     

    4 p.m. ET: Oregon (-1, 133.5) vs South Carolina

    This Midwest Region First Round matchup will be played at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Oregon (23-11) is the 11-seed and just beat Colorado 75-68 to win the Pac-12 Tournament. Meanwhile, South Carolina (26-7) is the 6-seed and just got crushed by Auburn 86-55 in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. This line opened with South Carolina listed as a 1.5-point neutral site favorite. Sharps have jumped on Oregon in a coin-flip game, moving the Ducks from +1.5 to -1. Some shops are even showing Ducks -1.5. In other words, we are seeing sharp “dog to favorite” line movement in favor of Oregon. This move is also notable because Oregon is the worse seed, yet the line is moving in their direction and they’ve become the favorite. Normally, the 6-seed would be favored over the 11-seed, not the other way around. Oregon is receiving 61% of spread bets and 67% of spread dollars, signaling modest public support and also respected sharp action. Those looking to follow the sharp move but wary of a tight game may prefer a Ducks moneyline play at -120. Wiseguys have also hit the under, dropping the total from 134 to 133.5. Only 29% of bets but 38% of dollars are taking the under, a sharp contrarian bet split.

    4:30 p.m. ET: Nevada (-1, 136.5) vs Dayton

    This West Region First Round matchup will be played at Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Nevada (26-7) is the 10-seed and just lost to Colorado State 85-78 in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals. On the flip side, Dayton (24-7) is the 7-seed and just fell to Duquesne 65-57 in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals. This line opened with Nevada listed as a 1.5-point neutral site favorite. The public is all over Nevada laying the short chalk. However, despite receiving 67% of spread bets we’ve seen Nevada fall from -1.5 to -1. Why would the oddsmakers drop the line toward Dayton if Nevada is such a popular play? Because pros have sided with Dayton, triggering sharp reverse line movement in favor of the Flyers. Dayton is only receiving 33% of spread bets, making them one of the top contrarian play of the day. Ken Pom has Dayton winning the game by one point (72-71), which provides actionable value on the Flyers as a short dog. Dayton has the better offensive efficiency (19th vs 36th), better effective field goal percentage (57% vs 53%) and better three point shooting (40% vs 37%). Those looking to back Dayton should keep an eye out for a hook on the +1.5. Pros have also leaned under, with the total falling 137 to 136.5. The under is receiving 41% of bets but 61% of money, a “low bets, higher dollars” bet discrepancy.

    6:50 p.m. ET: Colorado State vs Texas (-2, 144)

    This Midwest Region First Round matchup will be played at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Colorado State (25-10) is the 10-seed and just crushed Virginia 67-42 in the First Round round two nights ago. On the other hand, Texas (20-12) is the 7-seed and just fell to Kansas State 78-74 in the second round of the Big 12 Tournament. This line opened with Texas listed as a 3-point neutral site favorite. The public is backing the Longhorns laying the short chalk. However, despite receiving 61% of spread bets we’ve seen Texas fall from -3 to -2. This signals sharp reverse line movement on Colorado State, who is riding some momentum and already has a tournament win under their belt. Colorado State is only receiving 39% of spread bets but 50% of spread dollars, a sharp contrarian bet split. Ken Pom has Texas winning by one point (73-72), which provides actionable value on Colorado State plus the points. Colorado State has the better defensive efficiency (30th vs 61st) and also takes better care of the ball (54th in turnovers vs 156th). Those looking to back Colorado State should shop around and try to find a hook on the +2.5.

    10:05 p.m. ET: Drake (-1, 138.5) vs Washington State

    This East Region First Round matchup will be played at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Drake (28-6) is the 10-seed and just outlasted Indiana State 84-80 to win the MVC Tournament. Conversely, Washington State (24-9) is the 7-seed and just came up short against Colorado 58-52 in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. This line has been all over the place. It opened with Washington State listed as a short 1-point neutral site favorite then it flipped to Drake -1.5. However, over the past 24-hours we’ve seen sharp buyback on Washington State, dropping Drake back down to -1. Essentially, late movement seems to be breaking back toward Washington State. One constant has been the overwhelming public love for Drake, with 81% of spread bets backing the Bulldogs. On the flip side, Washington State is the top contrarian play of the day, receiving only 19% of spread bets and features some late sharp buyback despite being so unpopular. Ken Pom has Washington State winning the game by one point (71-70). He also has Washington State ranked higher (38th vs 51st). Those looking to back Washington State would be wise to shop around for a hook on the +1.5. Washington State has the better offensive rebound percentage (33% vs 24%), and better defensive efficiency (28th vs 72nd). Sharps have also leaned over, raising the total from 138 to 138.5.

    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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