In arguably today’s most exciting game, the 14th-ranked Duke Blue Devils (24-8 SU, 12-18 ATS) will face off against the 10th-ranked Louisville Cardinals (24-7 SU, 17-11 ATS). This matchup features two of the best coaches in NCAA history with Mike Krzyzewski (1067 wins) and Rick Pitino (769 wins), however, their postseason performances have been dramatically different — especially for spread bettors. Since 2005, Pitino has gone 16-6 ATS in conference tournament games while Krzyzewski has gone just 8-18 ATS
These teams previously played in Louisville back on January 14th, with Duke being led by interim head coach Jeff Capel. In that game, Louisville (closed -3.5) received 62% of spread bets and won 78-69. Since oddsmakers typically value home-court advantage at roughly 2.5-points, it was safe to assume that Louisville would be 1-point favorites on neutral court.
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That assessment proved accurate when Louisville opened as 1-point favorites at Bookmaker in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Although Duke is typically a public darling, the majority of bettors have been steering clear of the Blue Devils in today’s matchup. As you can see in the line chart below, not only has the percentage of spread tickets (67%) favored the Cardinals, the percentage of money splits have been even more drastic with 92% of all spread dollars taking Louisville.
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With the market steadily pounding Louisville since the line opened yesterday evening, oddsmakers have been forced to adjust their number multiple times, eventually landing at the current line of Louisville -3. There haven’t been any steam moves triggered on Louisville, which indicates public perception has been largely responsible for this 2-point line move.
We can also glean some interesting information by observing our moneyline percentages. In games with very small spreads, casual bettors are increasingly willing to take the favorite on the spread and underdog on the moneyline. These casual bettors love the idea of getting plus-money by taking the underdog on the moneyline, and don’t want to lay additional juice by taking the favorite. However, Louisville (-150) is actually receiving 55% of moneyline tickets and 76% of moneyline dollars.
The screenshot below displays the spread and moneyline ticket percentages from our contributing sportsbooks.
Since 2005, Duke hasn’t received the majority of spread tickets in just 20.3% of their games. Going one step further, they’ve received less than one-third of spread tickets in just 2.3% of their games. This level of one-sided public betting is almost unprecedented for Coach K’s squad, but the influx of public money on Louisville is likely catching oddsmakers by surprise and forcing them to adjust on the fly.
It’s also worth noting that although 65% of tickets and 63% of money have taken the over, the total has dropped from 147.5 to 146.5. That reverse line movement indicates early sharp money likes the under.
11:30 AM EST update: After this article was initially posted there was buyback on Duke +3, which caused the line to drop from Louisville -3 to -2.
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