So I'm listening to Bill Simmons' podcast and he has on Chad Millman, Vegas Insider.
Basically, Chad's job is to interact with the guys who set the line, professional gamblers, sharps, and wise guys. He had some interesting comments about the tournament:
By the end of the year, markets are fairly efficient as most teams are valued correctly. That's a betting disadvantage. My personal feeling is that there's still value in the mid-majors and 2nd tier teams from elite conferences (Baylor, Georgetown).
Only squares and fools parlay or tease NCAA tournament games. According to Millman, if he asked a respected sharp for a good parlay in March Madness, the guy would never answer his call again. Any meaningful parlay in March Madness takes too much risk. You'll always lose Game 3 out of 3. He could not overstate this point. Bet game to game or bet overall conference wins.
Inter-game gambling is the new thing. You can essentially bet every possession and bet a living line as it fluctuates throughout the game. Kind of a cool way to hedge and play the middle. This represents a phenomenal opportunity if a team you love goes down 15 or 18 early because the other team is, say, hitting 3s, rather than dominating via defensive pressure - you know your guys will rally. Bet accordingly.
This year all of the pro gamblers are pissed off that the NCAA has matched all of their Bet On teams (teams with higher value than is perceived) that they expect to be undervalued against each other early. Specifically, they're irritated that A&M plays Utah State, Richmond plays St. Marys, UTEP plays Butler, Cornell plays Temple and, in the second round Wisconsin is likely to play either Cornell or Temple. Vegas types believe that Wisconsin & Temple particularly are Elite 8 capable and that Cornell is Sweet 16 quality. Putting them in a three team elimination early has the sharps irritated at the perceived easy money they've lost.
Similarly, they're irritated that Texas is matched against Wake and that Missouri is matched against Clemson - as these are all Bet Against (underperform relative to perceived value) teams. They'd have preferred Richmond vs. Texas/Missouri, UTEP vs. Wake/Clemson match ups so that they can make some easy dough betting against the public.
They're similarly conflicted by Duke's regional draw. Vegas sharps hate Duke and Coach K and have consistently bet against him in the tournament for the last 8 years or so. Duke's style of play has too high of a beta and they can't be counted on if the 3s aren't dropping. However, they are a public team - meaning the average uninformed gambler loves Duke, so it's important to watch their lines for inefficiencies if they get past their first couple of opponents. The public can sweep in and queer their lines.
Everybody loves Baylor & Marquette. Baylor is good against the spread and has been all year. Marquette is incredibly consistent and cut their teeth in a brutal Big East. Wise guys love teams like Temple, Wiscy, Marquette because they're so predictable and they can drag you into a half-court game. Under pressure, a team unaccustomed to that under the bright lights and on a neutral floor will wilt.
Wise guys fear Louisville because they can lose by 20 in round 1 or go to the Elite Eight. They can screw your bracket.
We have our own resident gambler in Kevin Berger and his bracket breakdowns are well worth your time:
No disagreements here. And Kevin independently identified Wiscy and Temple as the X-factors, which impresses me since I know he didn't hear the podcast. The problem is that you have to pick one of them. Is anyone else concerned that Bob Huggins has a tournament history of pissing away high seeds?
Wow. Ballsy. If the Syracuse big man stays hurt, 12 seed UTEP almost makes the Final 4 after upsetting Syracuse. However, if Syracuse is healthy, I guess they play K-State for the right to advance? The problem is that this has no predictive value since none of us know the injury status.
The 3 and 4 seeds in this bracket are particularly weak. So if you're a 1 or 2, you simply need to play up to your potential for at least the Elite 8. Of course some of the lower seeds (BYU, UTEP) are notably strong so upset potential here is rife.
What the Committee did to Kansas is obscene. Ultimately, I think the Jayhawks fight through this bracket anyway. I don't have Ohio State upsetting Kansas as Kevin does because Georgetown and Greg Monroe take them down a round previous. Still, this region will feature incredible basketball and a bunch of games that will be very near things.
Kevin likes Baylor. So do I. I'm having trouble pulling the trigger. Duke and Nova scream out to be beaten.
If you want to pull the trigger on some winning bets: BANG!.
I also found the write-ups at Rush The Court very informative. You'll find solid Thursday/Friday breakdowns as well.