Gonzaga and Arizona, both No. 1 seeds in the 2022 NCAA’s men’s basketball championship tournament, were dealt early exits last night in the Sweet 16, respectively by No. 4 Arkansas and No. 5 Houston.
Now, with three of the one seeds out, this year’s March Madness is shaping up to be extraordinarily profitable for legal US sportsbooks.
Ahead of the tipoff of March Madness, BetMGM said Arizona was its biggest liability. The Wildcats opened at 50/1 prior to the regular season’s start.
Following a remarkable season in which the team went 31-3 to win the Pac-12 title, BetMGM had Arizona down to just 6/1 by the time March Madness arrived.
Gonzaga’s 2022 campaign wasn’t unexpected. The Bulldogs went 26-3 to win their eighth WCC tournament title in nine years. The Zags were betting front-runners to win the national championship, as the team had the shortest title odds of the 68-team tourney.
BetMGM said Arizona accounted for 10% of its tickets and 14% of its overall money on the 2022 tournament — both highs in each handle category. Gonzaga accounted for another 8% of the tickets and 12% of the total money.
With both out, BetMGM will keep all of those bets.
No. 1 Kansas is the lone remaining one seed. The Jayhawks take on No. 4 Providence tonight in their Midwest Sweet 16 showdown, where they’re favored by 7.5 points.
Baylor, the other pre-tournament No. 1 seed, lost in the second round to a feisty No. 8 North Carolina squad. The Bears were responsible for 4% of BetMGM’s 2022 NCAA championship bets.
John Ewing of BetMGM says five of the book’s top eight liabilities have been eliminated.
Duke, always a popular bet, is gaining some extra action this year, as many college basketball fans are pulling for retiring Coach Mike Krzyzewski to go out on top. The Blue Devils are responsible for 8% of BetMGM’s bets, and 9% of the money.
No. 2 Duke takes on No. 4 Arkansas in the Elite 8 tomorrow night. The Blue Devils have opened as 3.5-point favorites.
No. 2 Villanova took care of No. 11 Michigan last night to advance to the Elite 8. They will meet No. 5 Houston on Saturday. Early action on the Cougars has Houston a two-point favorite.
Sweet 16 Night Two
Three other games complement the Kansas-Providence game tonight.
The 2022 Cinderella No. 15 Saint Peter’s — which shocked the basketball world with upsets over No. 2 Kentucky and No. 7 Murray State — hopes to do it again with No. 3 Purdue. Bettors, however, feel the run ends here, as the Boilermakers are heavy 13-point favorites.
No. 8 UNC meets No. 4 UCLA later tonight. The Bruins are small two-point favorites. The nightcap is No. 11 Iowa State against No. 10 Miami. The Hurricanes are three-point favorites.
BetMGM says the public is pulling for more upsets. The book reports that 70% of the bets and 72% of the handle are on Providence against Kansas. St. Peters and North Carolina also account for more tickets and money than their respective opponents.