Where the action is: Pac-12 success is big for Reno books

Saturday’s schedule kicks off the Round of 32 with eight games on the betting board. Action has already started to pour in on those matchups, forcing books to juggle their odds. We talk to oddsmakers online and in Nevada about the most notable adjustments:

VCU Rams vs. Michigan Wolverines – Open: -2.5, Move: -3.5, Move: -3, Move: -3.5

Sharp bettors jumped on Michigan at -2.5 and pushed the spread all the way to -3.5 before bettors came back and bought VCU, settling the line at -3. Now, the public is having its say and has moved the spread back to -3.5. The No. 5 Rams were impressive in their beating of No. 12 Akron, forcing 21 turnovers. But now, VCU takes on the No. 4 Wolverines, who take care of the basketball and are loaded with star power.

“VCU is going to garner a lot of action because of their previous tournament success and Shaka Smart’s great ATS record in this event (8-1 ATS),” Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker for CarbonSports.ag, told Covers. “But Michigan is a very battled-tested team from the Big Ten, by far the best conference in the nation and they’ll generate a lot of action as well.”

California Golden Bears vs. Syracuse Orange – Open: -7.5, Move: -8

Cal pretty much gets a home game against the No. 4 Orange, playing this Round of 32 matchup in San Jose. The Bears have been a popular bet with sportsbooks in Nevada, especially in Reno, due to the closeness of the Golden State.

Steve Mikkelson, sportsbook manager at the Atlantis Casino in Reno, told Covers that the proximity of California made for a huge handle for No. 12 Cal’s upset over No. 5 UNLV Thursday and that he expects the Syracuse game to be the deciding factor Saturday, with the majority of bets and parlays going into that 9:40 p.m. ET tipoff. The Orange have jumped half a point to -8 at most markets.

“With the closeness to California, a lot of our guests are fans of Cal, and UCLA and those Pac-12 teams,” says Mikkelson. “The further they go in the tournament the better. If those teams were to be the Cinderellas, along with all those big-name schools advancing, that would be ideal.”

Butler Bulldogs vs. Marquette Golden Eagles – Open:  -2, Move: -1.5, Move: -2.5


CarbonSports.ag took a big sharp play on Butler as soon as betting opened on this Round of 32 game, dropping the spread a full point. But after a thrilling comeback win Thursday, public money is convinced Marquette has another Sweet 16 run in it. It's been nothing but Golden Eagles action since the move but oddsmakers expect that to change come gameday.

“I believe we’re going to see a lot of public support for Butler as they’ve been ‘tournament darlings’ they past few years and are fan favorites,” says Stewart. “I see this line closing at the opening number of Marquette -2.”

Oregon Ducks vs. Saint Louis Billikens
– Open: -3.5, Move: -4, Move: -3.5


This line has bounced between -3.5 and -4 with early action taking the No. 4 Billikens and sharp money pouncing on the No. 12 Ducks when it moved up. Since coming back to -3.5, books are getting good two-way action.

“Saint Louis has been hot with our guests and they’ve been riding them through the conference and NCAA tournaments,” says Mikkelson. “The public, for the first time all season, has really gotten on them.”

Memphis Tigers vs. Michigan State SpartansOpen: -4.5, Move: -6

“Bet counts have hit 5-to-1 in favor of Michigan State and the money wagered volumes are following accordingly, BetDSI told Covers. “The total in this game has also been hit and the line has dropped significantly from 125 to 123.5.”

Harvard Crimson vs. Arizona WildcatsOpen: -10, Move: -10.5

There hasn’t been much movement on the spread for this game, but bettors are driving the total down. Some Vegas books opened with totals as high as 136 for this one and it has since been pounded down to 133.

“Sharp money is backing the under in the Harvard vs. Arizona matchup, moving the line from 134 to 132,” says BetDSI.

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