Vegas Odds: March Madness EditionPosted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2012
We’re in the middle of Championship Week and roughly 80 hours away from learning the names of the 68 teams that will compete in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Most of the elite teams have yet to suit up in their conference tourneys so we thought it would be a good time to take another look at how Vegas bookmakers are viewing the best teams heading into this final weekend prior to the bracket release on Sunday. We ran through this exercise in both the preseason and again in December before conference season got under way, so it’s always instructive to see how the perception of teams has changed in the eyes of those who make their livelihoods from knowing such things. Although there’s been a good amount of movement among the top 10 teams on our list, the top two have remained Kentucky and North Carolina with a bullet, far above the rest of the field all season long. As the season has progressed, Vegas has gotten even more in these two teams’ corners, at this point suggesting that combined (and normalized to 100% total among all teams) the Wildcats and Tar Heels have a 33.7% chance of cutting down the nets in New Orleans. One in three — not bad at all.
*The remaining listed schools were too numerous to name, but they included most of the remainder of the power conference teams.
Some brief thoughts…
- There’s a pretty good separation between the top eight teams (Kentucky down to Duke) and the next tier starting with Georgetown. The oddsmakers are suggesting that those eight teams have a collective 64.2% chance (normalized) to win the title. It’s no coincidence that those eight teams will also likely represent the top two seed lines on Sunday evening.
- Like many of us, the books have lost some faith in Ohio State (down 0.9% from December), even after last weekend’s win at Michigan State to grab a share of the Big Ten title. Connecticut (-3.1%), Louisville (-2.5%), Baylor (-1.9%), Xavier (-1.5%) and Duke (-1.4%) have also dropped in standing considerably. No argument there either — in fact, just go ahead and set your wallet on fire before you decide to wager on any of those teams.
- Some teams that seem a bit low to us are: Indiana (1.0%), Michigan (0.6%), Temple (0.5%), and UNLV (0.5%). Those teams don’t have a better shot to win the national title than Vanderbilt (0.7%) or Florida (1.0%)? We wish we could make that bet.
- Next week when we know the brackets these numbers will likely shift a bit because then the oddsmakers will know exactly what path lies ahead for each of these teams. We’ll take another look at the odds for each team in the regions as part of our analyses on Monday. Check back in next week.