NCAA Tournament Betting: Updated Odds to Win Regionals
by Robert Ferringo - 03/23/2009
Did you know that there are pockets in the city of Detroit in which the average home price is just $22,000? No, I'm not missing a digit there: according to CNN the average price of a house in the Motor City is slightly less than a 2009 PT Cruiser.
So, if you had dropped $500 on a futures bet on the Arizona Wildcats to win the Midwest Region - the opening odds on the 'Cats were 60-to-1 - do you think you would cruise on into the Cass Corridor and pick up a four-bedroom, two-bath crib with your winnings?
The Future is now for the 16 sweet college hoops teams that are still playing in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Before the Big Dance tipped off last Thursday there were futures wagers available for each of the four regional sites. These short-term futures are one of the best values in futures betting, in any sport, and before this weekend's action shapes the Final Four teams you can still get a little cheddar down on who you think will survive weekend No. 2.
However, with the current odds you probably can only secure a down payment on a Detroit home (or a PT Cruiser) as opposed to full cash payment. Here are is a breakdown of the four regions of the NCAA Tournament along with updated regional futures odds:
MIDWEST (INDIANAPOLIS) REGIONAL
All season long Louisville has shown a disturbing penchant for mailing it in during the first half of games. They were up just two points over feeble Morehead State in Round 1 and just seven points over Siena in Round 2. But those lackluster halves haven't been enough to deter oddsmakers from lowing the payout on the Cardinals to win the Midwest Region. They opened the tournament at 6-to-5 favorites but now are paying significantly less at 1-to-2.
The No. 2 seed, Michigan State, and the No. 3 seed, Kansas, are actually equals in the odds of the futures oddsmakers. Both are currently listed at 2.5-to-1 and that could be telling in terms of which team the books are expecting to advance from their upcoming Friday tussle. Michigan State romped in the first meeting, but that was back in December in the Izzone.
Arizona experienced the second-highest spike in their odds over the weekend. They began the season as 60-to-1 underdogs to come out of the Midwest but are currently just an 8-to-1 bet to win a pair this weekend. They looked sharp and focused in the opening two rounds and will have just four days to prep for Louisville's pressure.
EAST (BOSTON) REGIONAL
Pittsburgh really struggled through its weekend, going 0-2 against the spread and barely holding off plucky No. 16 seed East Tennessee State in their opening game. It wasn't exactly a confidence builder for all of those folks holding futures for Pitt to cut down the nets in Detroit. In fact, their odds have held firm at 3-to-5 to win the East Regional. I said at the start of the tournament that I didn't think the Panthers were a championship team and I'm holding true to that sentiment. But whether they can get out of Boston is another story.
Duke's odds improved only slightly, moving from 2-to-1 to 17-to-10. Naturally, the Blue Devils are still overrated. They always are. But in this instance I think the odds of them beating Big East teams in back-to-back games are, um, a lot longer than 17-to-10. Villanova is still the East Regional sleeper at 3-to-1 and, in my opinion, offers a great value. Xavier was the weekend's biggest mover, dropping from 75-to-1 odds to come out of the East to a tidy 7-to-1 wager.
SOUTH (MEMPHIS) REGIONAL
In my opinion this is the most interesting regional in terms of reading the futures odds. First, North Carolina looked great over the weekend and Ty Lawson returned to bolster their title chances. However, their odds, 2-to-5, to win the region actually held firm. I would have expected Lawson's return to vault this team into the "unplayable favorite" range, but that doesn't appear to be the case.
Next, Oklahoma began the tournament as the only No. 2 seed with odds to win their regional at higher than 2.5-to-1. They were a very soft 6-to-1 to come out of Memphis, but now have seen that number shrink to 3.5-to-1. But that shift in the numbers tells me that the oddsmakers still aren't overly impressed with the Sooners and how they performed over the weekend.
Syracuse had perhaps the best weekend of any team in the field, dominating both of their opponents from start to finish. Interestingly enough, they find themselves in a similar situation to the Midwest Regional in that the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds have the same odds (3.5-to-1) to come out of their bracket. Yet SU and OU's odds are lower than the Michigan State-Kansas numbers.
Finally, Gonzaga got the obligatory bump from not getting bounced in the first round. This perpetually overrated club went from an 8-to-1 sucker bet to a 5-to-1 sucker bet.
WEST (GLENDALE) REGIONAL
Things were not really wild at all out west last weekend and as a result the odds in Glendale have more quivered than actually shifted. Purdue did drop from 12-to-1 to 5-to-1, which is significant, but not earth shattering. Beyond that, Connecticut barely shifted from 5.5-to-5 to 5-to-6 and Memphis tilted from 7-to-5 to 6.5-to-5. The fourth team, Missouri, might be the best value on the board at 5-to-1.
Anyone who has read anything I've written about the tournament knows that I don't think Memphis is any good. But beyond that it's a very difficult call on which squad is going to emerge. I would not be stunned to see Connecticut, Missouri or Purdue in the Motor City so that makes a futures wager in this region a high-risk, low-reward option.