Bookmakers discuss early March Madness sports betting action


March Madness odds are filling the betting board at sportsbooks in Las Vegas and around the country.

Bettors are already gunning for first-round games and beyond, and it seems like everyone is getting ready to turn on their Bracketology.

Houston, Alabama, Kansas and Purdue took the top four seeds. And Houston is the odds-on favorite to win the NCAA Tournament at FOX Bet.

With the brackets set, let’s dive into several interesting early nuggets in the March Madness betting market.

Support brings high stakes

After Sunday’s selection program ended, it didn’t take long for the top stakes to start dropping on NCAA Tournament championship futures.

In fact, one Caesars Sports customer didn’t even wait until the support was announced. After Alabama knocked off Texas A&M 82-63 in the SEC final, Caesars bet $10,000 on ‘Bama +1000 to win it all. Should the Crimson Tide make it to the title, that bettor would get $100,000.

Meanwhile, BetMGM Nevada made a few five-figure plays once the field was revealed.

“Three bets came up tonight, right after the bracket was set,” said BetMGM Nevada’s Scott Shelton. “We took $10,000 on Alabama 8/1, $10,000 on Kansas 8/1 and $10,000 on Purdue 10/1.”

An Alabama or Kansas title would net $80,000 in those bets. If Purdue cuts down the nets, it’s $100,000.

The good with the bad

For BetMGM Nationwide, VP of Trading Jason Scott pointed out a couple of teams the book expects to dodge in March Madness futures.

“Houston is our big loser. Kansas isn’t good either. There are a couple of losers at 300/1 and up, but those aren’t realistic odds to win,” Scott said, before moving on to a handful of teams that BetMGM is rooting. for the next three weeks. “The Alabama men’s basketball team has not made any friends with their behavior this year. But if the Crimson Tide wins the tournament, they will be very popular at BetMGM as they are a big winner for us.

“Connecticut, Purdue and Gonzaga are going really well for us, too.”

These four teams are pretty good to have in your pocket. Alabama is the +800 second choice with Kansas at BetMGM. Purdue is the fourth choice at +1100, while UConn is the seventh choice at +1600 with Texas.

Gonzaga, a perennial championship contender, remains at +1800.

It’s no surprise that defending national champion Kansas is a problem behind the counter. The Jayhawks have a rabid national following and are a very public team. Houston doesn’t have a lot of that kind of following.

But what the Cougars do have is a certain furniture store tycoon who piles on. More on that this week.

“Of the top seeds, we’re seeing the most action (tickets and money) coming to Houston,” Brossman said of the +500 favorite. ‚ÄúSome other notable teams that have been popular since the draw are Gonzaga (+1400), Duke (+3000) and Creighton (+3300).

In fact, FOX Bet is rooting hard against a Bluejays March Madness run.

“Creighton is now our biggest potential loser if they were to win it all, because of some bets we made earlier this year at +9000.”

In fact, the liability increases rapidly with a probability of 90/1.

The sharp side

Leading up to the games, there are several fascinating first-round matchups on Thursday and Friday. BetMGM Nevada’s Shelton said sharp bettors were quick to jump on some underdogs, including the No. 4 vs. No. 13 matchup in the Midwest Region.

“Indiana opened -6.5 and they were all over Kent State from the jump,” Shelton said Sunday night. “We’re in Indiana -4.5.”

Another 4-for-13 matchup with Tennessee vs. Louisiana in the East region also caught the eye of pro players.

“We opened Tennessee -12.5, and it also had a 2-point move to -10.5,” Shelton said. “In this game so far, we don’t have a single tackle on Tennessee. And every tackle on Louisiana is a form of sharp play.

“They also jumped at Oral Roberts. We went from Duke -7.5 to -6.5.”

Duke and Oral Roberts are in the game East 5 vs. 12.

Another abrupt action Shelton noted:

No. 12 Drake +3.5 vs. No. 5 Miami in the Midwest Regional, dropping the Hurricanes to -2.5.

No. 12 VCU +5.5 vs. No. 5 St. Mary’s in the West Region, dropping the Gaels 2 points to -3.5.

No. 13 Iona +9.5 vs. No. 4 UConn in the West, dropping the Huskies to -8.5.

No. 15 Colgate +15.5 vs. No. 2 Texas in the Midwest, with the Longhorns shortening to -13.5.

“When we first turned on the games, it was hard to keep up with all the bets coming into the app from the crafty players,” Shelton said.

Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue selected as top seeds for NCAA Tournament

Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue selected as top seeds for NCAA Tournament

Jason McIntyre and Colin Cowherd react to the top seeds ahead of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Challenge welcome

Vegas is about to be overrun by the mass public that makes its annual stay during the first four days of March Madness. With 16 games each on Thursday and Friday, it’s just non-stop betting from morning to night.

Every Las Vegas sportsbook is full, from the Strip to downtown and beyond. Jay Kornegay, who oversees The SuperBook as Westgate’s vice president of racing and sports, has seen it all in his more than three decades in the sports betting industry.

The craziness in Las Vegas, which incidentally hosts the Sweet 16/Elite Eight rounds in the West Region this year, easily matches the craziness of the tournament itself. And Kornegay wouldn’t have it any other way.

“March Madness is a welcome challenge for operators. We always look forward to all the excitement it brings to our city and venues,” Kornegay said. “One of the biggest challenges is handling all the bodies for the first four days from sunup to sundown. Handling the first four days is comparable to the Super Bowl, but it’s the ticket count what stands out. The average bet in March Madness is far less than Super Bowl weekend.”

But as Kornegay pointed out, with the large number of bets placed (that ticket count), the money only accumulates in the first four days.

So I’ll end with this: While legal sports betting has expanded rapidly in the United States, there’s still nothing that compares to March Madness in Las Vegas. Seriously, it’s a bucket list trip that you have to experience at least once. Here I hope to find myself at the end of this week. Good luck with your bets and brackets!

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and a senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He is based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys playing golf in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @Patrick E_Vegas.

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