Prop betting is on the rise, we give some props we’d like to make this March.
Prop betting is a burgeoning part of the sportswagering market, offering bettors the chance to lay down cash on in-game events not directly related to the outcome of specific games or matches. Placing props is most popular among football bettors, but is gaining ground in March Madness as well. We’ve made a list of realistic March Madness prop bets.
Doug McDermott will break single-game scoring record
• Our most likely prop bet is that a team seeded #3 or lower will win the NCAA tournament
• Out least likely bet is that Doug McDermott will break the single-game scoring record
• Of the four likely #1 seeds, Wichita State stands the highest chance of losing early in the tournament
What are the odds that Creighton’s star forward Doug McDermott will break Bill Walton’s 41-year old record for points score in a March Madness game? McDermott is undoubtedly the smoothest offensive player in the nation, and one of the best to come along in years. But Walton’s record stands at 44 points.
As difficult as it will be, we give McDermott a chance. He has scored 30-plus points 8 times this season, including a 39-point outburst against a strong Villanova team. And hey, to bet on sports in America occasionally means taking a leap of faith.
• Verdict: There is a reason this record has stood for 41 years; 1/50
A #3 seed or lower will win the championship
There is no question that March Madness tends to be dominated by high-seeded teams. Six out of the past seven tournaments have been won by #1 seeds. But we would like to see an underdog leap up and seize the title this year. And by underdog, our standards are pretty low, so we’ll call a #3 seed a Cinderella story. In the past 20 years, 16 of 20 champions have gone into play with either a #1 or #2 seed. And the last time a team seeded lower that #3 won was Arizona in 1997.
This year’s likely #3 seeds are an impressive bunch: Iowa State and Creighton, who are led by the dominant Melvin Ejim and Doug McDermott, respectively, Michigan, who qualified for the title game last year, and Virginia, who is currently ranked #5 in the country. This group stands a better chance than in most years.
• Verdict: We’ll go with slightly better odds than the historical average; 1/4.5
A team will win its first ever championship
College basketball is the domain of royals and aristocrats, and the majority of top teams this year have won championships previously. The only schools currently ranked in the top ten who have never won a championship are Wichita State and San Diego State. Wichita State is the darling of many experts and fans, having made the Final Four last year and currently standing with an undefeated record.
Bovada currently gives them a 9/1 chance of winning, behind Florida, Syracuse and Kansas. Some oddsmakers have them even lower. Despite being ranked #10 and likely to received a high seed, Bovada gives San Diego State only a 50/1 chance of winning.
• Verdict: 9/1, as it all hinges of Wichita State
Jabari Parker will win Most Outstanding Player
There is no betting on March Madness without betting on the MOP. It’s a risky proposition to bet that one player out of hundreds participating in the tournament will win the coveted award. Duke’s Jabari Parker is the nation’s best player in our view, but will competing against great players like Melvin Ejim of Iowa State and Russ Smith of Louisville. But given Parker’s dominant play and Duke’s chances of going far in the tournament, Parker’s chances aren’t small.
• Verdict: 1/6
Which #1 seed will be eliminated first?
This prop is a bit tricky because until Selection Sunday we don’t exactly which teams will receive #1 seeds. But we have a pretty good idea. The #1s are likely to be: Arizona, Florida, Kansas and Wichita State. Which of them is most vulnerable? Florida is the odds-on favorite to win the national title and is led by two-time championship winning coach Billy Donavan. We doubt they will go down early.
Kansas has been inconsistent this year and is always a possibility to drop an easy game, but they are also our pick to win the championship, so we are sticking with them. As for the other two, Arizona is ranked #3 and has only two losses on the season, but has not played many games against top teams. Ditto for Wichita State, who is undefeated but plays in the weak Missouri Valley Conference and hasn’t played a top-25 team all season.
• Verdict: Wichita State, who still has a lot to prove
UCLA will tie record for most Final Four appearances
Ok, I’ve always been a fan of the University of California-Los Angeles so I’m a bit partial here. But do the Bruins (who are second all-time in Final Four appearances with 17) have a shot at tying North Carolina’s record 18 Final Four appearances? Both teams will be playing in March Madness this year, so there is a chance that North Carolina could augment its record. But UCLA is likely to receive a #5 seed and has a very talented team. But the numbers don’t lie. Since 1985 only four #5 seeds have made the Final Four, so don’t count on the Bruins to tie North Carolina’s record.
• Verdict: 1/20