March Madness betting craze kicks off for real on Thursday with thousands of punters expected to rush to the bookies.
The NCAA tournament, or March Madness as it’s commonly referred to, kicks off this week, with the brackets already announced. Over a thousand punters are expected to line up on Thursday outside the LVH sportsbook in Las Vegas to enjoy early betting under American gambling laws.
This year the bookmakers aren’t following the seed numbers, favoring the Michigan State, which have been somehow given a number 4 seed. Odds at land-based and online sportsbooks in the United States show that the Spartans are favorites against everyone out there except Florida.
Comments from the bookies
March Madness betting frenzy expected to kick off on Thursday
• Las Vegas bookies operating under American gambling laws expect record crowds this year
• Online betting will also be strong in states where it is now legal
• Odds and seeding places don’t always comply
Jay Kornegay, the operator of the renowned LVH sportsbook, said: “We certainly can point out the committee flaws like no one else can. Michigan State is a 4 seed yet we have them as the second favorite to win it all. That doesn’t make much sense to us.”
The Spartans received a line of 9/2 to win it all from the LVH bookies, while Florida was top of the list with 4/1 odds. The number 4 seeding has affected the Spartans’ odds, meaning they will have a slightly tougher job making it to the Final Four from number 4 seed instead of number 1 or 2.
Similar logic increased the odds of Michigan to 25/1, and Louisville to 15/1, considering the teams will have to make it out of a very tough Midwest full of great competition. Korneygay opined: “The Midwest region is one of the toughest regions we’ve ever seen. In my opinion it might be the toughest region of all time.”
Power ratings and bookies chances
The seeding places given to teams don’t always reflect their power ratings, however, there’s still plenty of room for land-based and online bookies to enjoy this year’s competition. The first four days of the competition will have thousands of bettors pouring to sportsbooks. The sports betting frenzy of March Madness can only be matched by that of the Super Bowl. And this time around there’s no definite favorite, which is very good news for the sportsbooks.
Wynn Resort sportsbook director, Johnny Avello, was quoted by American gambling news saying: “People every year talk about a tournament that is wide open, which to me is one where eight to 10 teams have a chance. Unpredictability is the stuff that the books love and this is one year we don’t have one team anyone can say will win it hands down.”
This year there’s a number of teams with equal chances at the top, but one of them clearly stands out. Florida came out as number 1 in the AP Top 25 poll, but they are also the favorites to win the tournament at all sportsbooks in Vegas and most online bookies in other states where online betting is legal.
Avello explained lowering Florida’s odds to 3/1 due to taking a lot of bets on the Gators following last April, when the books were first opened. Florida is also enjoying a favorable bracket this time around, providing them with pretty much a clear way to the Final Four.
The sportsbook manager said: “The favorite should be a team capable of winning that has the easiest route. And Florida has the easiest route, no question about it.”
Another betting expert, RJ Bell, has Florida at 5/1 odds to win the tournament. Michigan State are second according to him with 6/1 odds. All in all there are 21 teams with lines better than 100/1.
Let’s not forget about Louisville, another bookies’ favorite this year. The team also didn’t get seeded as high as expected, but the Cardinals might still make it through to the Final Four from the competitive Midwest. Also some experts suggest the team will be favored in almost every game they enter in their respective region.
The difference between bookies and NCAA approach
Las Vegas sportsbooks mostly focus on the teams’ recent performance as a factor behind coming up with the odds. NCAA, in turn, looks at an entire season when determining seeding places. This explains short odds for Michigan and Louisville, both teams had a strong finish to the season and are looking for more wins.
Speaking about Louisville odds, Avello shared: “I was looking at a possible No. 1 for them. When I saw No. 4 I thought it was low for a team playing so well that is the defending champion. But that’s what the committee does, I can’t get involved with that.”
Johnny Avello also said that the pairings would’ve been completely different if the sportsbooks’ opinion would’ve been incorporated by the NCAA. He also opined that: “the committee guys ought to get some book guys involved. We’d get the brackets together.”