The sharps didn't immediately pounce on Kentucky or Kansas, but the total is attracting line-moving money.
The total opened as high as
140.5, but was being offered as low as 137 Sunday.
“We opened at
139.5 and are down to 137.5,” Mike Colbert, sportsbook director for Cantor Gaming, told Covers.com. “It moved everywhere, which
is usually a pretty good indicator that it was sharp money.”
In the first meeting, on Nov. 15, Kentucky was a 6.5-point favorite over Kansas. The Wildcats pulled away for a 75-65 win at Madison Square Garden.
Nearly five months later, some oddsmakers believe the Jayhawks have narrowed the gap heading into Monday’s national championship game rematch.
Kentucky was favored by as few as five points when opening lines began showing up late Saturday night in Nevada and offshore. Pete Korner, owner of the Las Vegas-based odds service The Sports Club, even considered recommending UK -3.5 to his sportsbook clients.
“We sent out Kentucky -5, but had to be generous to get it to that,” said Korner, who bases his lines heavily on what he believes the betting public’s perception of the game will be. “The public has a short memory and usually puts a lot of stock in the last game. To me, Kansas rallying past Ohio State was more impressive than Kentucky struggling to put away Louisville.”
The sportsbook at the Wynn Las Vegas opened the line at -5.5, and the offshore book PinnacleSports started with Kentucky favored by just five.
But opinions varied from sportsbook to sportsbook. Cantor Gaming, which operates multiple Vegas shops, including the M Resort, opened Kentucky -7, as did Lucky’s Sportsbook.
By Sunday afternoon, the pointspread had settled at -6, with a handful of shops offering -6.5.
“We opened at -7, because I really like Kentucky’s matchup,” Colbert said at 5 p.m. ET Sunday. “We’ve been taking a trickle of money on the Wildcats, nothing that I would call sharp, though. We went down to -6.5 about 25 minutes ago. I’m guessing this line will close at -6.5 almost everywhere.”
Odds & Ends
--A pro-Louisville crowd at the sportsbook at Caesars Palace went crazy as time expired in the Cardinals’ 69-61 loss to Kentucky on Saturday. Louisville was an 8.5-point underdog.
“Louisville kind of dribbled down the clock,” Todd Fuhrman, senior sportsbook analyst for Caesars Palace said, “and when Kyle Kuric missed that little shot and Kentucky didn’t have time to do anything, the place erupted.”
--Last five national championship game pointspreads: UConn -3 vs. Butler (2011); Duke -7 vs. Butler (2010), North Carolina -7.5 vs. Michigan State (2009); Memphis -2 vs. Kansas (2008); Florida -4.5 vs. Ohio State.
--Monday’s game features a coaching rematch from the 1998 national championship game between John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers and Kansas’ Bill Self. Memphis failed to cover as a 2-point favorite in a 75-68 overtime loss to the Jayhawks.
--Underdogs continued their rally in the Final Four, but chalk has ruled this tournament. After Kansas and Louisville covered as underdogs Saturday, favorites are now 34-27-1 since the opening Thursday of the tournament.