2015 NCAA Tournament: Final Four Preview
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The undefeated Kentucky Wildcats continue their quest for a 40-0 season against the Wisconsin Badgers. Kentucky opened as a 6-point favorite at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbooks and, according to the betting trends available on our free College Basketball odds page, are currently receiving 45% of spread bets. Despite this fairly even split, the Wildcats have dropped from -6 to -5.5.
Despite the line movement on Wisconsin, there are a number of additional factors which hint towards value on Coach Calipari’s squad.
For starters, Kentucky fits the criteria laid out in ESPN’s NCAA Tournament Betting Guide which features a historically profitable system for fading trendy underdogs. Additionally, our latest contribution to ESPN’s Final Four Betting Guide shows that there is not only value on the Kentucky spread (-5.5) but also on the moneyline (-235).
We also published an article on the blog which shows how bettors can identify sharp money on the total during the NCAA Tournament. This system, which has gone 36-23 (+10.77 units won) since 2005, features a current game match on the under (131). The value on this play has been validated by two bet signals which have triggered on the under:
- Steam move on WISC/UK Under 133 at BetOnline (127-108, +7.0 units won)
- Reverse Line Movement Alert on WISC/UK Under 132 at Bovada (24-17, +4.3 units won)
Despite 79% of bettors taking the over in this game, the total has dropped from 133.5 to 131 at Pinnacle. This reverse line movement is an excellent sharp money indicator, but it should be noted that the two aforementioned bet signals were triggered when the total was higher. This means that some of the value has already been sucked out, but if you shop for the best line you can find this total available at 132 at a number of books including Sportsbook.com and Bovada.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils
The other Final Four game features this year’s top “Cinderella” team with the 7-seeded Spartans facing off against the 1-seeded Blue Devils. Duke opened as a 4.5-point favorite at Pinnacle and is currently receiving 66% of spread bets and 65% of moneyline bets. This influx of public money has moved the Blue Devils from -4.5 to -5.
It does not appear that either team is offering value on the spread; however, we have noticed some interesting action on the total. The over/under in this game opened at 138.5 at Pinnacle and, at the time of publication, 67% of bettors were taking the UNDER. It’s incredibly rare to see such a high percentage of bettors pounding the under as past research indicates that public bettors overwhelmingly favor the over.
In fact, since 2005 there have only been three games in our database where more than 66% of bettors have taken the under:
- 3/22/13 – Wisconsin vs. Mississippi (O/U 127)
- 3/22/13 – Ohio State vs. Iona (O/U 144)
- 3/18/15 – Wisconsin vs. Northern Iowa (O/U 126)
It’s interesting to see that all three of these games have included a team from the Big Ten, and that trend continues with Michigan State. This is particularly intriguing since we published an article last season which highlighted the value of taking unders in Big Ten games.
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