April 12, 2024

UConn and NC State Cause Sports Books to Lose Big: ‘We’re Smoked’

For the public betting masses, the odds market for Men’s March Madness couldn’t have gone much better. During two promotional weekends, the favorites usually continue to get the job done.

Oh, and that one very popular underdog, North Carolina State.

“We got smoked at pretty much every game in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight,” said TwinSpires Sportsbook director of retail sports Zachary Lucas. “It was a great tournament for our customers.”

Lucas and other oddsmakers help recap the second weekend of March Madness betting.

Top dogs

The UConn Huskies make a mockery of any team that bothers to adapt. And in doing so, they make fun of the oddsmakers while having fun with the March Madness bettors.

“UConn has been killing us all tournament,” Lucas said.

In the Sweet 16 on Thursday, No. 1 seed Connecticut defeated No. 5 seed San Diego State 82-52 in a rematch of last year’s title game.

On Saturday, it looked like maybe — just maybe — the defending national champions would get a challenge from No. 3 seed Illinois. With 1:51 to go until halftime, the game was tied at 23.

Then UConn continued a seemingly innocuous 5-0 run to end the half with a 28-23 lead. But the Huskies then scored the first 25 points of the second half.

So what was a 5-0 run evolved into a slamming 30-0 onslaught that put UConn ahead 53-23. Dan Hurley’s side cruised to a 77-52 victory as 8.5-point favorites and moved to 4-0 straight (SU) and against the spread (ATS) in this tournament.

Going back to the beginning of the 2023 postseason run, Connecticut is 10-0 SU and ATS in NCAA Tournament games. Each win was by double digits, and the Huskies also covered eight of those 10-point spreads by double digits.

“The Huskies have been an absolute top in the tournament all year, so it shows they’ve had some incredible action,” said Fanatics Sportsbook basketball trader Shank Subramani.

And Subramani’s comments came before the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight blowouts. The car that is UConn next faces No. 4 Alabama in Saturday’s Final Four nightcap at 8:49 PM ET.

Bashing the bookmakers

It’s not just UConn that’s beating up bookmakers. Lucas could only point to one favorable decision in the past four days. And that was after a Round of 32 in which 15 of the 16 favorites won their matches.

“In the Sweet 16 games, we went 1-7 by the book. The only win for us was North Carolina losing,” Lucas said, referring to the Tar Heels’ 89-87 setback Thursday against Alabama ). “The Elite Eight games were a complete drubbing, 0-4 by the book’s needs.

“So we were 1-11 overall in the Sweet 16/Elite Eight. It’s the worst March Madness since we started in 2019.”

Stubborn pursuit

Even the one major underdog, the Cinderella story, doesn’t help odds makers. No. 11 seed North Carolina State, which was a complete afterthought three weeks ago, is on an unprecedented 9-0 SU run (7-2 ATS) and earns a Final Four matchup against No. 1 seed Purdue.

The public is now lining up to bet on the big man DJ Burns and Co.

Ahead of NC State’s Sunday Elite Eight game against ACC rival Duke, BetMGM data analyst John Ewing noted that the action was heavily skewed toward the Wolfpack. NC State, a 7.5-point underdog, took 69% of the bets/71% of the money on the spread.

And on the moneyline side, it was even more diverse, with 88% of bets/83% of money on the Wolfpack pulling off an outright upset. As the game neared tip-off, Ewing posted this to X:

Suffice it to say, Duke didn’t win.

NC State pulled away in the second half for a 76-64 victory. Burns – who quickly became a national sensation – carried the Wolfpack with 29 points, including 21 in the second half.

Those who played NC State moneyline, at prices ranging from +220 to +250, got a nice little payout. A bet of €100 on +250 yielded a profit of €250, for a total payout of €350.

The Wolfpack and Boilermakers open the Final Four on Saturday with a tipoff at 6:09 PM ET.

Exception to the rule

The SuperBook somehow successfully navigated the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. That was thanks in large part to two results on the first day of Sweet 16 action.

“Thursday was great for us. We did really well when Arizona and North Carolina went down,” SuperBook CEO John Murray said.

No. No. 2 seed Arizona was a 6.5-point favorite versus No. 6 seed Clemson and lost 77-72. And as mentioned above, UNC – a 4.5-point favorite – lost to Alabama 89-87.

In particular, the future of the Arizona championship was a major liability for The SuperBook. The rest of the weekend also went quite well for The SuperBook.

“There were people willing to support UConn in both games, so we did a great job there,” Murray said, noting that some patrons ventured out to support San Diego State and Illinois. “Overall I’d call it a good weekend. No complaints.”

Not many of his colleagues could say the same.

I like big bets and I can’t lie

The two biggest reported bets on March Madness have already started begging.

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale played $1 million on Houston +750 to win the title at Caesars Sports, a bet placed in February. Before the tournament, he came back with another $1 million +750 bet at DraftKings.

Houston bowed out to Duke 54-51 in the Sweet 16.

But I also like smaller bets that pay out more money. And a few DraftKings Sportsbook customers have just that.

On March 18, after NC State got its five wins in five days at the ACC Tournament, a bettor bet $500 on the Wolfpack at +18,000 (180/1) to win the national title. If the state of North Carolina somehow completes this run by cutting the nets, the gambler will make a hefty $90,000 profit.

Ben Fawkes reported on X that another gambler cleverly crashed the March Madness party earlier. The customer has bet €1,060 on NC State at +50,000 – that’s odds of 500/1. Potential winnings: a hefty $530,000.

That’s some serious ROI.

Admittedly, the gambler faces an equally serious uphill climb. The Wolfpack are +340 underdogs to beat Purdue outright, after which they would still have to beat UConn or Alabama in the title game.

But going into the Final Four, that’s a great long-distance ticket to have in your pocket.

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

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