Those familiar with this site’s Twitter handle may be aware that our editor, Emmet Ryan, spent a few years working in the gambling business. He looks at how the bookies see the odds for the NCAA Championship and what it says about their confidence in the four combatants.
Lets take a look at the odds (NCAA Basketball championship odds taken from a prominent bookmaker) and see what the bookies are seeing.
There are two quick takes here. Firstly, despite it being an utterly awful year for the SEC per the stats, the oddsmakers love Florida and Kentucky and it makes sense. The Gators have experience, talent, and have the edge in every area of note over all three of their opponents. Being odds-on with two games to go, even if it’s only narrowly, is no easy feat and Billy Donovan’s team must be seeing a lot of action. Make no mistake, this is a defensive stance from the bookies. They expect Florida to beat UConn and to then get a heap of action for the championship game on Monday. This is an effort to force that run until after Saturday.
The other key observation is importance of profile in terms of action. Wisconsin have done more over the course of this season to merit support, despite an ugly start to Big Ten play, but they haven’t laid a market down. Kentucky has the profile of being Kentucky, John Calipari as coach, and a lottery pick in Julius Randle. Throw in a hot run through March Madness and suddenly a team that lost three times to Florida is second favourite.
The value play here is, in fact, the team favoured to win it all. At -120, Florida aren’t priced out of the market and unless you seriously think they will lose to the Huskies, a bettor can back them now and then lay their bet with a bit of wriggle room on Monday.