Where the action is: Early Final Four line moves

Apr 1, 2013 |
Brackets have been busted, Cinderella has been crowned, and the tournament’s top team looks better than ever. Everything is set for a fantastic Final Four Saturday, including the odds.

Sportsbooks opened betting on the two Final Four matchups – Louisville vs. Wichita State and Syracuse vs. Michigan – Sunday night and already some of those lines have moved.

We talk to veteran oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro of William Hill Sportsbooks in Nevada and Michael Stewart, oddsmaker with online book CarbonSports.ag, about the early action on this weekend’s NCAA games.

Wichita State Shockers vs. Louisville Cardinals
– Open: -10, Move: -10.5

The tournament’s top seed looked dominant versus Duke and garnered a double-digit spread versus the NCAA’s Cinderella in the Final Four. According to CarbonSports.ag, sharp money swooped in and immediately pushed the spread to -10, a trend they expect will continue.

“We went to -10.5 late last night and that has stopped the bleeding some, but I do believe it's going to be a case where the public is going to continue to play Louisville,” Stewart told Covers. “Unless a sharp betting group comes in on the dog, this line closes Louisville -11.”

Things have been a little quieter in Las Vegas, where the line can still be had at Louisville -10. Vaccaro says that only one bettor looking to make a big wager on this game won’t do it right now, with the line expected to climb before the weekend.

He is also happy to see Louisville in the driver’s seat during Final Four weekend. The Cardinals present the biggest win for the book in terms of futures action, with teams like Ohio State and Miami – the biggest threats to the futures book – knocked off last week.

“Louisville is the biggest pick up for us. It’s the same thing year after year. These big faves don’t really hold any value come tournament time,” Vaccaro told Covers. “We have a little (futures money) on Michigan but nothing on Wichita State and nothing really on Syracuse. People forgot about them when things went bad at the end of the season.”

The total for Saturday’s game between Louisville and Wichita State has moved slightly depending on where you bet. The number climbed from 129.5 to as high as 131 points at some books while others haven’t taken much action on the over/under.

“The public usually doesn't get involved with totals until the day of the game and wiseguys are most likely waiting to bet them once our limits go up,” says Stewart.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Syracuse Orange – Open: +2, Move: +2.5

Books debated opening this spread at Michigan -1.5 and some oddsmakers suggested this Final Four matchup was more in the pick’em range. Early money on the Wolverines bumped the spread to -2.5 and moneyline bettors didn’t bother with the spread, taking the Wolverines outright.

“We took a nice play on the Wolverines’ moneyline but that’s about it,” says Vaccaro, who told Covers the spread hasn’t moved much since post. “The smarts aren’t going to jump in right now. We’ve taken a little bit of action on Michigan.”

The total for this game has remained relatively steady, with some markets bumping the number from 130.5 to 131 points. According to CarbonSports.ag, the action is split on the over/under.

Syracuse’s zone defense has been especially stingy in the tournament, limiting opponents to just 61 total field goals and forcing 67 turnovers in four games while playing under the total in three of those contests. Michigan, on the other hand, is averaging just under 79 points in the NCAA and has topped the total in its last two outings.

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