NCAA Tournament Odds: Sweet 16 Bettors Love Ohio State
by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager - 3/24/2011
It’s been over 50 years since the Ohio State Buckeyes won their first and only NCAA men’s basketball tournament. In 1960, the great Jerry Lucas led them to a 75-55 finals victory over California at the Cow Palace in Daly City. (Remember the Cow Palace?)
The Buckeyes have come close to winning their second title. They lost back-to-back finals to Cincinnati in 1961 and 1962. Most recently they fell in the final game to Florida, in 2007 at the Georgia Dome.
In 2011, it’s clear they’ve got another great chance to get number two. Ohio State has dominated its first two opponents in the tournament, hammering Texas-San Antonio, 75-46, and then pounding George Mason, 98-66, to advance to the Sweet 16.
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Both games were great for the players at Bodog and not so great for the book. Even though the Buckeyes were huge 25.5-point favorites in their first game and gave 11.5 points two days later, bettors were staunchly behind them. In fact, the 32-point victory over the Patriots (who it’s worth noting were coming off a win over Villanova) gave the book its worst loss of the opening rounds of the tournament.
"They're the toughest squad that we faced," George Mason’s Ryan Pearson said. "When they got guys that's just hitting on all cylinders, all night long, and they're sharing the ball and they're just going out there and just having fun, it's kind of tough for the opponent to stop.
"They just made shots. And even when we tried to cut the lead and come out, they just came right back at us, firing on all cylinders. They're a great program, they're a tough team to beat. I think they're going to go real far in this tournament."
Pearson isn’t alone in his belief in the Buckeyes. We’ve got Ohio State at 5/2 odds to win the 2011 NCAA men’s basketball tournament and are booking plenty of action on Thad Matta’s squad despite the modest payout that a championship would provide futures bettors.
We’ve also seen outstanding wagering support for Buckeye forward Jared Sullinger, who’s getting 11/2 odds to be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Ohio State meets Kentucky on Friday in Newark. As odds makers, we’ll have to be careful to give the Buckeyes plenty of respect with the point spread we post or else we risk being seriously exposed on the outcome. Not that the Wildcats aren’t capable of an upset, but their opponents are on such an impressive roll that we don’t want to get steamrolled by a juggernaut.
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