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March Madness Betting Report: Here’s How Early Bettors Are Betting the Sweet 16

Do you have your dancing shoes ready? The Sweet 16 tips off this weekend with four games to bet on Saturday and four games on Sunday. Ahead is a look at mid-week betting reports focused on line movement, betting percentages, and notable trends for each March Madness game this weekend.

Before we dive in, all odds in this article come from our partners at the FanDuel Sportsbook. Right now, new FanDuel Sportsbook users get an unbelievable 30-to-1 odds boost on the Sweet 16. Bet $5 on any of the Sweet 16 teams to win their game outright, and if they succeed, you’ll profit $150. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.

(Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook; subject to change.)

Saturday, March 27

No. 12 Oregon State vs. No. 8 Loyola Chicago (-7) – 2:40 p.m. ET

On the spread: This game’s line opened with Loyola Chicago as 6.5-point favorites and has since gone up a half-point to -7. Despite that, 58% of bets and 66% of the handle favors Oregon State. For context, this typically means Loyola Chicago has received respected money, causing the sportsbooks to move the line a half-point. It’s noteworthy, however, not that significant yet because early bettors in general still favor Oregon State.

On the total (125.5): Early bettors love the Over by a substantial amount. Oregon State games have gone over the total in seven of their last eight games.

No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 1 Baylor (-7.5) – 5:15 p.m. ET

On the spread: This game opened with Baylor as a 6.5-point favorite, but it didn’t last long. Early bettors quickly pushed the spread a point. I love Baylor in this one and expect the line to grow Saturday when the betting public gets to it. Right now, Baylor has 70% of bets and 76% of the handle. If you like it, take it.

On the total (141.5): Early bettors overwhelmingly like the Over, so much that the line moved from its opening 139.5 to its current 141.5. Baylor games have gone over the total in six of their last seven games.

No. 15 Oral Roberts vs. No. 3 Arkansas (-11.5) – 7:25 p.m. ET

On the spread: Here’s a game you’ll want to be careful with, based on the early money reports. Arkansas opened as 10.5-point favorites and now sit a point higher at 11.5 points. Yet, early bettors have hammered Oral Roberts with 78% of bets and 76% of the handle.

From my experience, this typically means the sportsbooks are expecting Oral Roberts to be a public darling, who usually lose in the late rounds. Public darlings do win sometimes, but the book seems to be backing Arkansas.

On the total (159): The percentage you want to focus on here is “handle,” or total money spent on each side. This game features the largest total of any Sweet 16 games, and it’s trending downward. The under is getting 61% of the handle from early bettors. 

No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Houston (-6) – 9:55 p.m. ET

On the spread: This game’s line opened with Houston as 6.5-point favorites but was quickly bet a half-point in Syracuse’s direction shortly after. Very little has changed since, which could mean the sportsbooks won’t take a position on this game. I really like Syracuse to cover, and so do early bettors who have put 72% of the handle on the Orange.

On the total (140): The total hasn’t moved from its opening number. The handle is split pretty evenly, with 51% of the handle on the over and 49% on the under.

Sunday, March 28

No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-13) – 2:10 p.m. ET

On the spread: This spread hasn’t moved much from its opening (Gonzaga -13.5). As usual, Gonzaga is an overwhelming favorite, and the public is expected to pile on by Sunday morning. They’re commanding 74% of the handle on 70% of bets, which is typical of every Zags game. Sportsbooks are always sharp on Zags lines, so I stay off them altogether. Gonzaga is 14-12-3 against the spread this season.

If you like it, take it, or you can try to target a better number in-game. If a better line doesn’t present itself, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of other games to get action on.

On the total (158): The total is trending slightly to the over, gaining a half-point since its opening. It’s commanding the attention of early bettors, who have 66% of the handle invested in it on just 57% of bets.

No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 1 Michigan (-2.5) – 5 p.m. ET

On the spread: Incredibly, the lookahead line on this game favored Michigan by six points. That line quickly dwindled to just 3 points by the time it was made available to us. Since then, Michigan now holds just a 2.5-point lead on the spread, despite having 73% of the handle. That typically indicates respected money came in on Florida State.

On the total (143.5): There isn’t any significant line movement nor money on either side of the total.

No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 2 Alabama (-6.5) – 7:15 p.m. ET

On the spread: Early bettors are hammering Alabama, who opened as 5.5-point favorites. They’ve received 75% of the handle on just 66% of bets. The Crimson Tide has the potential to be the most significant liability for sportsbooks this weekend.

On the total (145.5): The over is getting 82% of the handle, meaning early bettors are expecting a high-scoring game.

No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 6 USC (-2.5) – 6:45 p.m. ET

On the spread: Sharp bettors have undoubtedly targeted USC in this one. The Trojans opened as 1-point underdogs and have quickly become 2.5-point favorites. Sometimes, you can chalk that up as an overreaction; however, the line movement is significant in this case. USC is commanding 59% of the handle on 57% of bets. While some may suggest the line movement correlates with money received, there are other games this weekend that show more enormous discrepancies in the handle. None present a 3.5-point swing, though. I love the Trojans to cover too.

On the total (138.5): The line isn’t moving, though early bettors heavily favor the over.

FanDuel Sportsbook users: Don’t forget to take advantage of your 30-to-1 odds boost on the Sweet 16. Bet $5 on any of the Sweet 16 teams to win their game outright, and if they succeed, you’ll profit $150. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.

Erick Valenciano is a sports betting writer for OutKick. For more betting tips, follow @ErickValenciano on Twitter. Make sure you’re following our sports betting account, too: @OutKickBets.

Written by Erick Valenciano

Erick Valenciano is a So Cal native who moved to Las Vegas to pursue a career in broadcasting and sports betting. A graduate of Cal State Fullerton, Erick paid his way through betting on sports and selling event tickets. He's also a mid-90s golfer and insists nobody will ever break his heart worse than the Chargers have.

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