HomeCollege BasketballBetting Splits and Sweet 16 Sharp Money Picks for Thursday March 28th

    Betting Splits and Sweet 16 Sharp Money Picks for Thursday March 28th

    Josh Appelbaum examines where smart money is leaning for Clemson-Arizona, San Diego State-Connecticut, Alabama-North Carolina and Illinois-Iowa State.

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    Today March Madness returns with four Sweet 16 games to choose from. 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 all four of tonight’s NCAA Tournament games.

     

    7:09 p.m. ET: Clemson vs Arizona (-7, 153.5)

    This West Region matchup will be played at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Clemson (23-11) is the 6-seed and just upset Baylor 72-64 in the second round. On the other hand, Arizona (27-8) is the 2-seed and just brushed aside Dayton 78-68 in the second round. This line opened with Arizona listed as a 6.5-point neutral site favorite. The public thinks this line is a bit high and they’re grabbing the points with Clemson. However, despite 62% of spread bets backing Clemson we’ve actually seen this line move further toward Arizona -6.5 to -7. Some shops have even touched -7.5. Essentially, all movement and liability appears to be on the Arizona side. The Wildcats are receiving 38% of spread bets but 51% of spread dollars, a sharp contrarian bet split signaling pro money fading trendy dog Clemson and instead laying the points with unpopular favorite Arizona. The Wildcats have the better offensive efficiency (9th vs 25th) and better defensive efficiency (9th vs 38th). Arizona has a big edge in terms of offensive rebound percentage (37% vs 27%) and also shoots the three better (37% vs 35%). Ken Pom has Arizona winning by six points (80-74).

    7:39 p.m. ET: San Diego State vs Connecticut (-11.5, 136.5)

    This East Region matchup will be played at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. San Diego State (26-10) is the 5-seed and just crushed Yale 85-57 in the second round. Similarly, Connecticut (33-3) is the 1-seed and just dismissed Northwestern 75-58. This line opened with Connecticut listed as a 10.5-point neutral site favorite. Both sharps and the betting public seem to be aligned on laying the points with the Huskies, as Connecticut is receiving 70% of spread bets and 79% of spread dollars and has been steamed up from -10.5 to -11.5. We haven’t seen any buyback on San Diego State and some shops are even inching toward Connecticut -12. The Huskies have the better offensive efficiency (2nd vs 54th) and slightly better defensive efficiency (8th vs 10th). Connecticut has the better effective field goal percentage (57% vs 50%), better three-point percentage (36% vs 32%), better offensive rebound percentage (36% vs 33%) and turns the ball over less (40th vs 111th). Connecticut will also enjoy de-facto home court advantage as this game will be played in Boston, just about an hour and a half drive from Storrs, Connecticut. One caution flag to note is that Ken Pom has Connecticut winning by only eight points (73-65), which means the betting market is higher on the Huskies tonight than the advanced analytics. Connecticut beat San Diego State 76-59 in last year’s NCAA Tournament championship game.

    9:39 p.m. ET: Alabama vs North Carolina (-4.5, 173.5)

    This West Region matchup will be played at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Alabama (23-11) is the 4-seed and just dismissed Grand Canyon 72-61 in the second round. On the flip side, North Carolina (29-7) is the 1-seed and just took down Michigan State 85-69 in the second round. This line opened with North Carolina listed as a 4-point neutral site favorite. The public thinks this line is way too low and they’re rushing to the window to lay the points with the Tar Heels. With 81% of spread bets and 83% of spread dollars backing North Carolina, we’ve seen the Tar Heels move from -4 to -4.5. Some shops have briefly reached -5 and then gotten hit with Alabama +5 buyback, dropping the line back down to -4.5. North Carolina is the most popular public bet tonight, which makes Alabama the top contrarian play as the Crimson Tide are only receiving 19% of spread bets. Ken Pom has North Carolina winning by two points (86-84), which provides a notable edge on Alabama at the current price of +4.5. Alabama has value as a “dog who can score,” thereby keeping pace or opening up the opportunity for a backdoor cover. Alabama has the better offensive efficiency (4th vs 17th), better effective field goal percentage (56% vs 52%), better three point shooting (37% vs 36%), better free-throw shooting (78% vs 76%) and better offensive rebound percentage (35% vs 33%).

    10:09 p.m. ET: Illinois vs Iowa State (-1.5, 146.5)

    This East Region matchup will be played at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Illinois (28-8) is the 3-seed and just crushed Duquesne 89-63 in the second round. Meanwhile, Iowa State (29-7) is the 2-seed and just brushed aside Washington State 67-56 in the second round. This line opened with Iowa State listed as a 2.5-point neutral site favorite. This public is split down the middle and doesn’t know whether to take the points or lay them. However, despite the even ticket count we’ve seen Iowa State fall from -2.5 to -1.5. Normally, a line shouldn’t move if the tickets are even because, in a vacuum, there would be no reason for the oddsmakers to adjust the spread based on the balanced action. However, not all bets are created equally, as some come from wiseguys while the vast majority of others come from the betting public. So, based on the line move, we know that sharp money has jumped on Illinois and the points, triggering a sharp “50/50” line move in their favor. Illinois is only receiving 48% of spread bets but 61% of spread dollars, further evidence of the bigger, sharper wagers backing the Illini in a “low bets, higher dollars” bet split. Illinois has several key advantages offensively, boasting the better offensive efficiency (1st vs 48th), better effective field goal percentage (54% vs 52%) and better free-throw shooting (74% vs 70%). Ken Pom has Iowa State winning by one point (76-75), which provides actionable value on Illinois at the current price. Those looking to back Illinois would be wise to wait and/or shop for the best line to see if it rises back to +2 closer to tipoff.

    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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