LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 21: John Calipari (left in suit) the Head Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats is pictured with Joe Hall ( middle) and Herky Rupp (right) after the 88-44 victory over the Drexel Dragons at Rupp Arena on December 21, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky. The victory was the 2,000th for Kentucky . Joe Hall coached Kentucky to a national championship and Herky Rupp is the son of former Coach Adolph Rupp. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
2012 March Madness Betting Trends & Analysis
Las Vegas odds favor the 2012 Kentucky and the Ohio State basketball teams to win this year's NCAA tournament. Casinos rank #1 overall seed Kentucky higher than any other team, with Ohio State trailing slightly behind, more favored than any other #1 seed in the field.
Mike Colbert, odds-maker at Cantor Gaming positions Kentucky as a 5-2 favorite, despite their surprising loss to Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference Championship.
‘Though they got off to a slow start, they’ve been the most impressive team this year, overall,’ said Colbert, Cantor’s risk management director. ‘Their loss to Vanderbilt was a humbling experience for them, and will end up making them stronger in the tournament.’
As for #2 seed Ohio State’s chances, Colbert places them at 6-1. ‘That probably surprises some people,’ said Colbert, ‘because they got beat yesterday by Michigan State in their conference championship.’ His assessment agrees with the majority of Nevada’s 186 sports books.
The other number 1 seeds in the tournament – North Carolina and Syracuse – followed closely behind Ohio State, with 7-1 and 10-1 odds, respectively.
As with any sport, Vegas odds typically reflect the public opinion and notoriety of a team. However, Ohio State's odds purely reflect the quality of their team as compared to the competition, Colbert submitted.
‘Other than Kentucky, if you put Ohio State against any of the other teams on a neutral floor, we think they’ve got the best chance to win,’ Colbert said. ‘Our numbers are based solely on how good we think they are and how good their chances are to win the championship.’
As for the rest of the field, Colbert indicates that Vanderbilt (40-1), Memphis (60-1) and Cincinnati (75-1) were garnering heavy attention from early round bettors. RJ Bell, gambling expert from Pregame.com offers that a team’s overall odds to win the tournament is the best evaluator when wagering on individual games.
‘It’s the only prediction that those making these predictions are willing to back with millions of dollars,’ Bell said.
When asked his opinion on some casinos ranking Kentucky as three times as likely to win the tournament as any other team in the field, Bell simply responded, ‘That’s a strong statement’.
Vegas has circled five games as possible first-round upsets: Connecticut (9) over Iowa State (8), West Virginia (10) over Gonzaga (7), Alabama (9) over Creighton (9), North Carolina State (11) over San Diego State (6) and Purdue (10) over St. Mary’s (7).
Though office pool participants and other such amateur bettors often overlook the point spread when attempting to identify early-round upset picks, Bell iterates that astute bettors should consider Vegas lines a convenient cheat sheet.
‘When Vegas is telling you that a lower seed will actually have less than half of bettors picking them, you should take note,’ Bell said. ‘Winning a bracket pool is all about identifying value and finding teams that have at least a 50% chance of winning, but that less than half of your opponents are betting on.’
More than 100 million people are expected to wager around $3 billion on bracket-style games, and more than $12 billion total is predicted to be wagered on the tournament.