Bookmaker's Corner: March Madness Bracket & Book Notes
by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager - 3/9/2010
March Madness tips off next week and we expect to be kept extremely busy throughout the entire NCAA tournament. Betting action on the March Madness bracket is right up there with the Super Bowl, but it comes with its own set of unique challenges for our online sports bettors.
Compared to other big events like the Super Bowl and World Series, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is particularly challenging for sportsbooks because all of a sudden teams and players that have generated very little media and betting interest throughout the season are thrown onto a national stage. So not only do the bettors need to become familiar with these relatively unknown teams and players, but the sportsbooks also have to get tuned in – and fast. It’s the sort of research that I actually enjoy sinking my teeth into and I look forward to learning as much as I can about every potential Cinderella Story.
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Take a school like Winthrop, which qualified for the big dance by defeating Coastal Carolina 64-53 on Saturday to win the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
For the Eagles, this will be their fifth trip to the tournament in six seasons and ninth since 1999. But let’s be honest, it’s still Winthrop we’re talking about here; you’d be hard-pressed to find odds on most of their games throughout the regular season and only the most dedicated college hoops fan could name a single player on their roster.
Making matters even tougher for handicappers, the Eagles (19-13) weren’t expected to win their conference tournament. Coastal Carolina was the clear favorite as the Chanticleers headed into the title game with a 28-5 record. Not surprisingly, the Eagles were 9-point underdogs on Saturday.
So, looking ahead to next week, how do you make a betting line for the first round of the tournament as Winthrop will most certainly take on a college powerhouse like Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse? What’s the difference between a 20-point spread and 25?
We’ll have to rely on past experience and a good deal of gut feel for that, but it’s worth mentioning that we often see a flood of betting as soon as we post our opening numbers for the early-round mismatches. Fans of the underdogs can’t believe their schools were so disrespected by such a big number while fans of the top-ranked teams think the number should be much higher. As such, we typically have to adjust our lines quickly as the bets roll in, depending on the degree of outrage.
Overall, we expect a very popular NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2010.
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