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Sportsbooks have major liability on 1 team in Final Four

If it were up to sportsbooks, sharp bettors and the betting public always would be on the opposite side of a game.

“It’s usually bad for us when they’re both on the same side,” MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said, “because we always want to be on the side of the sharp money.”

The pros and the public are backing Kansas over Villanova in Saturday’s Final Four.

“It looks like we’ll be rooting for Villanova pretty big at this point,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said.

The Jayhawks are consensus 4½-point favorites over the Wildcats after opening as low as -3 at the South Point.

“Wiseguys laid -3, -3½ and -4,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “We still had money at -4½.”

When the South Point went to -5, it took sharp buyback money on Villanova +5 and lowered the line back to 4½.

BetMGM reported sharp play on Kansas -3½, and the ticket count is 3-1 in favor of the Jayhawks.

The action also is lopsided on Kansas at the Westgate SuperBook.

“Definitely going to need Villanova, even though we have seen some bigger bets on the Wildcats,” SuperBook director John Murray said. “The public is all over Kansas.”

The line is down to 4 at Caesars Sportsbook after it took two six-figure wagers on Villanova +4½.

The Wildcats will be without guard Justin Moore, their second-leading scorer, after he tore his Achilles in Saturday’s win over Houston.

Kansas-Villanova U134

Goldsheet.com handicapper Bruce Marshall went 5-0 ATS last weekend to tie me for first place in the RJ NCAA Tournament challenge with an 11-6 ATS record.

Barstool Sports handicapper Kelly Stewart went 9-8 ATS and hit both of her best bets to tie for second with Systemplays.com handicapper Doug Fitz (11-6 ATS).

Marshall and Stewart made Kansas-Villanova under 133 their best bet.

“Villanova is pacing games more like the Rollie Massimino title team of ’85 than either of Jay Wright’s two title winners,” Marshall said. “No Moore is a potential blow to the Cats, who aren’t deep and like to post up their guards whenever possible. But they’re pacing games very slow, they play defense inside-out, and they’ve also locked down the perimeter in the (tournament), allowing only 21 percent (3-pointers).

“Kansas’ defense also is superb, not allowing second shots. But aside from Remy Martin, who can be streaky, there are not a lot of shooters on the Jayhawks. This one paces slow and is probably played in the 50s, so the under really intrigues me.”

North Carolina (+4) over Duke

The ticket and money count is almost evenly split on the other national semifinal between archrivals Duke and North Carolina.

The Blue Devils are 4-point favorites over the Tar Heels. Circa Sports took sharp action on North Carolina +4½.

Carolina is Fitz’s best bet.

“The Tar Heels have the same power rating as the Blue Devils, according to the numbers I use, so getting points is a bonus,” said Fitz (@fitz_doug). “The line could go up even more if enough bettors buy into the Coach K winning-it-all scenario in his final season and the revenge angle from his last home game.”

Duke crushed Carolina 87-67 in their first meeting this season. But the Blue Devils were whipped 94-81 in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke-North Carolina O151

Terry Gomez, who won the 2021 Station Casinos’ Last Man Standing contest, likes the rubber match to go over the total of 151.

“With all the athletes on the floor and the way North Carolina plays, I think it will be up and down,” said Gomez (@TerryGomezLV). “Duke’s got five first-rounders, and North Carolina is peaking at the right time. I can see that game being in the 80s.”

Last Man Standing

Thirteen entries remain from a starting field of 2,643 in LMS, which pays $53,375 to the winner.

Gomez hit his first seven plays and was one of 39 entries alive entering Sunday. But his 17-0 ATS run (including last year) ended with Miami, which lost by 26 to Kansas.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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