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Sports book lists Maryland as early favorite to win national title


After winning 28 games and making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2010, big things are expected of the Maryland Terrapins in 2015-16. And in the case of one sports book, Mark Turgeon’s team has the look of one that should be seen as the favorite to win the national title.

Bovada sportsbook updated its odds for the 2016 national title, and Maryland leads the way with odds of 9-to-1 to cut down the nets in Houston. While Maryland does have to account for the loss of Dez Wells, Melo Trimble and Jake Layman lead the way for the returnees with interior additions Robert Carter Jr. (Georgia Tech transfer) and Diamond Stone expected to be major contributors as well.

Three teams follow Maryland with odds of 10-to-1 to win the title, reigning national champion Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina. The Blue Devils lose a lot from their championship team, but the additions of incoming freshmen Derryck Thornton Jr. and Brandon Ingram will certainly help. Kentucky also has some major personnel losses to deal with, but John Calipari returns Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee and adds a recruiting class led by Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere.

As for the Tar Heels, they return every member of last year’s rotation outside of J.P. Tokoto who turned pro. But his departure opens up even more minutes on the wing for returning starter Justin Jackson and fellow sophomore Theo Pinson, and the return of veterans Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks make Roy Williams’ team one to watch in 2015-16.

One surprise in these odds is that Auburn (100-to-1) received more respect than a Vanderbilt (125-to-1) team that returns a lot of talent from last season. The Commodores, viewed by some as a Top 25 caliber team, may not be a bad choice if looking to cash in on a long shot and the same could be argued for Baylor at 75-to-1. Texas has the best odds of teams with a new head coach at 50-to-1.

Below are the odds of some of the teams listed by Bovada (up to 100-to-1). The full list can be found here (links to Bovada’s site, so if you’re at work and the employer frowns upon gambling sites you’ve been warned).

Maryland 9/1

Duke 10/1

Kentucky 10/1

North Carolina 10/1

Kansas 16/1

Michigan State 16/1

Arizona 20/1

California 20/1

Iowa State 20/1

Virginia 20/1

Gonzaga 25/1

Indiana 25/1

Villanova 25/1

Wichita State 25/1

Oklahoma 28/1

Michigan 33/1

Purdue 33/1

Louisville 40/1

LSU 50/1

Notre Dame 50/1

Ohio State 50/1

Syracuse 50/1

Texas 50/1

Texas A&M 50/1

UConn 50/1

Utah 50/1

Wisconsin 50/1

Florida 66/1

Miami FL 66/1

SMU 66/1

Baylor 75/1

Butler 75/1

NC State 75/1

Auburn 100/1

Cincinnati 100/1

Dayton 100/1

Florida State 100/1

Georgetown 100/1

Georgia 100/1

Illinois 100/1

Iowa 100/1

Providence 100/1

San Diego State 100/1

UCLA 100/1

West Virginia 100/1

UConn’s national title resulted in a nice reward for 12 friends

Photo credit: Paul DelVecchio
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At the start of every college basketball season fans pay attention to what Las Vegas has to say with regards to who will win the national title. While the favorites from an odds standpoint immediately jump out, there’s also the search for value picks that would result in a financial windfall of sorts should that team win.

Twelve friends who graduated from the University of Connecticut in the spring of 2013 placed their faith in Kevin Ollie’s Huskies in November during a trip to Las Vegas, and they were rewarded as UConn cut down the nets last month in Arlington, Texas.

How much did they win? Each of the 12 friends placed $100 on the Huskies, who were given odds of 50:1 by the sports book at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which works out to a nice $5,000 payday for each. Ten of the 12 cashed in their tickets this weekend, and Paul DelVecchio provided the visual.

Photo credit: Paul DelVecchio

“We watched the season opener here and placed the bet immediately after. 50 to 1 odds at $100 a piece. 12 of us in total placed it,” DelVecchio told NBC Sports via Twitter.

“Was more of a hopeful bet than anything else but they pulled it out.”

When Ollie was named head coach in October 2012 there was no lack of skepticism, with athletic director Warde Manuel taking a “wait and see” approach at first and some wondering if the former UConn point guard could build on what Jim Calhoun had accomplished during his time at the school. But there were also those who believed Ollie was the right man for the job, including the group of friends who are now $5,000 (apiece) richer.

“Honestly, we thought it was very possible,” said DelVecchio, who along with his friends was at Gampel Pavilion for Ollie’s introductory press conference. “His passion was incredible, and we all knew that would translate to the players on the court. We sat in Gampel when the official announcement was made, and were very excited for the future.”

While the amount of money won by the DelVecchio and his friends in notable, it’s also about the story that they’ll be able to share for the rest of their lives. And according to DelVecchio, they all placed $100 bets on UConn to win it all next season, with the odds being 65 to 1 at present time.

Las Vegas sports books give Andrew Wiggins best odds of being top pick in NBA Draft

Andrew Wiggins
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Now that the order of the 2014 NBA Draft lottery is known many have let their feelings be known as to who the top pick in next month’s draft should be. And so have the sports books out in Las Vegas, with former Kansas wing Andrew Wiggins being the early favorite to be the first player taken.

Bovada’s given Wiggins 4 to 5 odds of being the top pick, with former teammate Joel Embiid having 7 to 5 odds and former Duke forward Jabari Parker coming in at 5 to 1. And if you’re into taking the longest odds in hopes of scoring a nice payday, the field has odds of 15 to 1. As for Sportsbook, Wiggins is an 11 to 10 favorite to be the top pick with Embiid (3 to 2) and Parker (3 to 1) falling in line behind him. And a bet for a player other than those three being the top choice is getting 15 to 1 odds at present time.

With there being just over a month to go before the June 26 draft there will be changes, thanks to pre-draft workouts, physicals and the “rumor mill” that tends to get going throughout the pre-draft process. Will Wiggins still have the best odds come late-June? We’ll see.

Oddsmakers tab Florida as favorite to win national title

Billy Donovan
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Now that the 68-team field is known, Las Vegas has adjusted its national championship odds with top overall seed Florida the favorite to win it all. Billy Donovan’s team has been installed as an 11/2 favorite to win the national title by Vegas Insider, and that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Following the Gators is Kansas, which has 6/1 odds to win the national title despite the health of Joel Embiid.

Rounding out the top six are Arizona (15/2), Wichita State (8/1), Duke and Michigan State with the Blue Devils and Spartans both having 10/1 odds. The fourth one-seed, Virginia, has 20/1 odds at present time. Louisville, a four-seed in the Midwest, could be an interesting pick to bettors due to the combination of their recent play and the 18/1 odds to win the national title.

Kentucky and North Carolina are both receiving 40/1 odds, and Iowa State at 45/1 is another possible selection worth taking a shot at given the ability of the Cyclones’ three best players (DeAndre Kane, Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang). Oklahoma State, led by Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, is also receiving 45/1 odds.

Will Las Vegas sports books root against No. 2 Wichita State in the NCAA tournament?

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There’s no denying the popularity of the NCAA tournament, with fans across the country following every bounce during a three-week period that’s been dubbed “March Madness.” Another aspect of the tournament that receives a high amount of attention is gambling, whether it’s through the office pool that every year seems to be won by someone who pays little or no attention to the sport or by heading to Las Vegas for legal sports betting.

In the case of No. 2 Wichita State, which is currently 30-0 with one regular season game remaining, how well they do in the NCAA tournament could have an impact greater than the sports books would like. Why? Because Gregg Marshall’s Shockers began the season with odds of winning the national title as long as 100-to-1.

If the Shockers can make that difficult six-game run, bets placed on Wichita State at those odds could end up costing some books a sizable amount of money according to Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg News.

“They are the one team we don’t want to see go very deep in the tournament right now,” Jay Rood, sports book director at the MGM Mirage (MGM) in Las Vegas, said in a telephone interview. “That’s basically our only bomb out there. We probably mispriced them a little bit.”

Rood said the MGM Mirage sports book has “substantial liability” on Wichita State, with only three schools — Kansas, Syracuse and Florida — attracting more money from bettors. None of those teams had odds as high as the Shockers, who were listed by the MGM Mirage at 75-1 early in the season, when there were about 30 bets made at an average of $100, according to Rood. A winning $100 bet on Wichita State to capture the NCAA title would return $7,500 at those odds.

According to Vegas Insider the current odds on Wichita State winning the national title are 12-to-1, with Kentucky having the same odds and a group of four teams (defending champion Louisville, Arizona, Duke and Syracuse) just above at 10-to-1.

Vegas sports books offer up great entertainment during major sporting events, and the NCAA tournament clearly qualifies as such. And if the Shockers were to be playing on Monday, April 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas? It would probably just as entertaining to watch the sports book directors.

UTEP dismisses McKenzie Moore, Jalen Ragland, Justin Crosgile for gambling

Tim Floyd

On Tuesday afternoon UTEP held a press conference regarding the FBI’s investigation involving several members of the university’s basketball program. From that press conference it was announced that leading scorer McKenzie Moore, fellow junior Jalen Ragland and graduate student Justin Crosgile had been dismissed from the team after school administration had determined that the three had gambled on athletic events.

“There is no indication of any point-shaving,” UTEP executive vice president Ricardo Adauto III said during the press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The three members at the press conference, Adauto, head coach Tim Floyd and athletic director Robert Stull stated the investigation did not find the three to have placed bets on UTEP games.

Floyd said he had learned of potential gambling going on in his program, informed administration, who then contacted the FBI.

McKenzie, a 6-foo-6 junior, was leading the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game. He along with Ragland, had been sidelined since Dec. 28, missing the Miners’ last two games while serving an indefinite suspension. Crosgile is was a late transfer to the team after five-star freshman guard Isaac Hamilton attempted to get a release from his National Letter of Intent.

All three players face a one-year suspension and will lose a year of eligibility.

UTEP host Charlotte to begin Conference USA play on Thursday.