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.