More Sports:

March 19, 2019

Sports betting with 'The Philly Godfather': March Madness sleepers and picks for Final Four, championship

Throughout the football season, Steve Maltepes, known as “The Philly Godfather,” imparted his gambling wisdom on PhillyVoice readers. Now, with the NCAA Tournament underway, we'll take a look at where the smart money is going this March Madness season. Maltepes is one of the nation’s hottest sports betting experts who appears weekly on national radio and has his own website,

There is an expected $8.1 billion that will be bet on the NCAA Tournament over these next five weeks. According to the American Gaming Association, 29-percent of all Americans think Duke will win the national championship, with an implied probability of 40-percent of winning the national championship. Virginia is right next to the Blue Devils, garnering a 17-percent chance of implied probability of winning the national championship. That’s close to twice as many bets of Duke to win the national championship than any other team. Pennsylvania sports books are expected to take in $10 million on the NCAA tournament this year. New Jersey is expected take in $75 million during March Madness. Across the country, 70 million Americans are expected to bet on the NCAA tournament.

The AGA expects one out of every five adults will participate in March Madness action, which is greater than the one-out-of-every-10 American betting on the Super Bowl.

The crazier your bracket looks, the better chance you have to win.


East Region

No. 14. Yale (22-7) plus-8 over No. 3 LSU (26-6): LSU has top talent, but no one steering the ship. Yale can shoot the ball very and is 8-5 on the road. The spread opened at plus-8.5 and all of the sharp money is on Yale. The wise guys like a close games.

No. 12 Liberty (28-6) plus-7.5 over No. 5 Mississippi State (23-10): Mississippi State has under-performed in the market and is 16-17 against the spread. Liberty can shoot the ball well. Liberty is good value, since it’s a team that shoots well beyond the arc (37%). The betting public is betting 75 percent on Mississippi State.

West Region

No. 12 Murray State (27-4) plus-4 over No. 5 Marquette (24-9): This game opened at 5 in Vegas. The line will keep dropping. The total opened at 148, 148.5. They’re expecting a lot of points in this game. Murray State is 36-percent beyond the arc on the road. The stronger move is the over at 148.

South Region

No. 11 St. Mary’s (22-11) plus-5 over No. 6 Villanova (25-9): St. Mary’s is a top-50 team in height efficiency and rebounding. St. Mary’s is one of only three teams to beat Gonzaga this year. This is a 50-50 split, but the sharp money has been on St. Mary’s. The game is dropping and may close with Villanova minus-4. In games in which Villanova loses the rebounding battle, they’re just 6-8 this year.

Midwest Region

No. 13 Northeastern (23-10) plus-8.5 over No. 4 Kansas (25-9): Kansas shouldn’t be a four seed. The Jayhawks should be a six or seven seed, though — they have played the toughest schedule this year. Northeastern is 14th in the nation for three-pointers and Kansas is 127th in the nation defending the three-pointer. The Jayhawks gave up 37-percent shooting from three-point range on the road. Northeastern may beat Kansas on the money line, too. You’re paying an inflated price if you’re looking to bet Kansas. The smart money is saying to take Northeastern. The game is moving down, with a ton of sharp money on Northeastern.

MORE: Pick these 5 first-round NCAA tournament upsets on your bracket


Final Four: Duke (plus 250 national championship/minus-150 to win the region), Gonzaga (plus 500/plus 110 to win the region), Virginia (plus 450/plus 105 to win region) and North Carolina (plus 800/plus 200 to win region)

National champion: Gonzaga over North Carolina

Gonzaga has the easiest road to the Final Four. The Bulldogs fit four primary criteria: top 50 in rebounding, effective possession ratio, in height efficiency and three-point shooting. They have size, can score and they don’t turn the ball over often. Gonzaga gets complaints about an easy schedule, but they beat Duke earlier this year on a neutral court and lost to St. Mary’s, North Carolina and Tennessee. The reason why Gonzaga gave Duke headaches is Duke doesn’t shoot the three well. The only team that may derail Gonzaga in the West is Syracuse. But Syracuse doesn’t shoot the three very well, though the Orange have better height than Duke.

Betting lines are subject to change.

The Philly Godfather can be followed on twitter @Phillygodfather & his website is

Follow Joe on Facebook: @JSantoliquito

Like PhillyVoice on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports