Duke player dunking the ball

NCAA Championship outright odds (As of April 4)

Virginia: 2.25
Michigan State: 2.90
Texas Tech: 5.60
Auburn: 9.00


We’re down to four teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament, the reputation of March Madness fully justified following the events of last weekend.

The Duke Blue Devils have been eliminated. They were the favourites to win the NCAA title this year. And now, the Final Four of this year’s tournament features two schools that have never made it this far in their hardcourt history.

The Virginia Cavaliers, who exited last year’s tournament in the first round after losing to a 16 seed, have survived to this stage and are now the favourites to win the title with outright odds of 2.25 at PlayNow.com as of Thursday. Of the four teams remaining, the highest percentage of money wagered on the outright market is on Virginia to win it all.

That was at about 9.05 per cent as of Tuesday. Duke was the biggest favourite amongst bettors, with roughly 50 per cent of the money on them to win the championship just prior to the start of the tournament.

Key word: ‘Was.’

Virginia, which makes its third appearance in the Final Four, will face the Auburn Tigers on Saturday, with a berth in Monday’s championship game on the line. As the only No. 1 seed remaining in the bracket, Virginia is a 5.5-point favourite going into that matchup.

A fifth seed to begin the tournament, Auburn makes its first appearance in the Final Four. It wasn’t long ago that the Tigers barely squeaked by New Mexico State, a 12 seed, by one point in the first round.

Since then, the Tigers have roared their way to the Final Four. They cruised by Kansas in the next round. They stunned the North Carolina Tar Heels by 17 points in the Sweet 16. They needed overtime but ultimately took care of Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

The Tigers are now 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 games. Bettors have been taking notice of their success in this tournament, as well.

About 2.20 per cent of money wagered on the NCAA Tournament outright winner is on Auburn, though the majority of that money has come in since March 30.

Of the four remaining teams, the Tigers are the longest shot to win the championship with odds of 9.00 at PlayNow.com as of Thursday. When March Madness began, their outright odds stood at 45.00, which may have provided some intriguing value to any bettors that did get on Auburn before their run.

Virginia’s defence through the first three rounds of this tournament had averaged just 52 points against. That was before Purdue put up 75 against the Cavaliers in the Elite Eight, although Virginia’s offence came alive in that one, securing a spot in the Final Four with an 80-point overtime effort thanks to a crucial second half from Kyle Guy.

On the other side of the bracket, a pair of teams that produced upsets last weekend will faceoff on Saturday.

Michigan State defeated Duke – again, tournament favourites when this all began – 68-67 in the Elite Eight, while Texas Tech handed No. 1 seed Gonzaga a six-point loss to advance. It’s now the Spartans versus the Red Raiders in the other Final Four matchup.

Michigan State began the tournament with odds of 13.00 to win the national championship. Those have now shifted to 2.90 following their triumph over Zion Williamson and the favoured Blue Devils.

And yet, bettors don’t seem to be buying into the Spartans.

Before the tournament got underway, only 0.75 per cent of money was on Michigan State to win the championship, despite their Big 10 title. Yet, only 1.93 per cent of money is on the Spartans to win the national title, despite their big win over the Blue Devils.

Michigan State is a 2.5-point favourite against Texas Tech, as of Thursday. The Spartans are 4-0 as favourites against the spread when the line is set between 1 and 2.5 points. On the other hand, Texas Tech is 3-1 as an underdog against the spread within the same lines.

Texas Tech began the tournament with odds of 26.00 to win it all.

Currently, 1.63 per cent of the money is on Texas Tech to prevail with a championship next week. There have been fewer than 12 bets on that team since they upset Gonzaga in the last round.

Michigan State’s Cassius Winston is now the favourite to win the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player with odds of 3.70 at PlayNow.com.

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