- Joined ESPN in 2014
- Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008
Gonzaga remains the consensus favorite to win the national championship heading into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Zags, the No. 1 overall seed, were the favorites in the preseason and, months later, sit atop the odds to win the tournament. Caesars Sportsbook has Gonzaga at 7-2, followed by 1-seed Arizona at 6-1.
Kentucky and Duke, a pair of No. 2 seeds, have the next best odds at 7-1 and 10-1, respectively. The Wildcats and Blue Devils have better odds to win the tournament than No. 1 seeds Kansas (12-1) and Baylor (14-1).
Gonzaga is the clear-cut favorite, though, and has been the betting public’s top choice throughout the season. More bets were placed and more money was wagered on the Zags to win the national title than any other team at several sportsbooks. Kentucky and Duke also received significant support from bettors this season. But it’s a couple of preseason long shots that could prove most costly for sportsbooks.
No. 2 seed Auburn was 125-1 to win the tournament in the preseason at Caesars Sportsbook. To begin the week, the Tigers winning the national championship is the worst-case scenario for Caesars nationally. Auburn is now 14-1 to win it all.
“In Nevada, we lose on only three teams: Murray State, Auburn and San Francisco, in that order,” Adam Pullen, Las Vegas-based assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said Sunday night.
Murray State is 150-1, and San Francisco is 200-1.
Arizona winning the tournament is the worst-case scenario for BetMGM sportsbooks. The Wildcats were 50-1 in the preseason. DraftKings said 3-seed Tennessee poses its largest liability. The Volunteers are 22-1.
Shortly after the bracket was released Sunday night, sportsbooks began posting point spreads on the opening rounds. Four lower seeds opened as betting favorites over higher seeds in the Round of 64, the most since 2017, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Three double-digit seeds — No. 11 Michigan, No. 10 Loyola-Chicago and No. 10 San Francisco — opened as favorites in their first games.
No. 16 seed Georgia State, which faces Gonzaga on Friday in the West Region in Portland, is the biggest underdog on the board at +23.5.
The pre-tournament betting favorite has won seven of the last 16 NCAA tournaments.
ESPN Stats & Information researcher Mackenzie Kraemer contributed to this report.
Source: Read Full Article