Arizona guard Courtney Ramey (0) looks up at the scoreboard during the second half of a first-round college basketball game against Princeton in the NCAA Tournament in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 16, 2023. Princeton won 59-55. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)
By MARK ANDERSON (AP Sports Writer)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — March Madness isn’t just about filling out — and later throwing — brackets. There are several ways to bet on the NCAA tournament, an event that will consume basketball fans over the next three weeks. Here’s a look at the favorites, underdogs and long shots.
WHO IS FAVORITE TO REACH THE FINAL FOUR?
Earlier this week, top-seeded Houston was the plus-135 favorite to appear as the Midwest Region representative and play in Houston, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. That means a $100 bet pays $135. The next top team in the region is No. 5 Texas at plus-350.
Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed, was plus-150 to get out of the South.
The most competitive region appears to be the West. Top seed Kansas opened as a slight favorite, but later shared that spot with 2-seed UCLA at plus-330 (before the Jayhawks were kicked out). No. 3 seed Gonzaga was not far behind at plus-400.
Top-seeded Purdue was at plus-300 to get out of the East, but the Boilermakers lost in the first round.
WHO IS FAVORED TO WIN THE TITLE?
After a bunch of upsets in the first round, the favorites listed by FanDuel Sportsbook were mixed up a bit over the weekend: Houston was the top favorite at plus-440, just ahead of Houston (+490). UCLA was next (+700).
WHO IS THE BIGGEST UNDERDOG?
If you’re looking for the next Saint Peter’s or Loyola-Chicago, check out these options.
Nineteen teams were listed at plus-50,000: Arizona State, Charleston, Colgate, Furman, Grand Canyon, Howard, Iona, Kennesaw State, Kent State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Montana State, Nevada, Northern Kentucky, Oral Roberts, Texas A&M- Corpus Christi, Texas Southern, UC Santa Barbara, UNC Asheville and Vermont. Furman advanced to the second round with a big win over 4th-seeded Virginia, but that was it. Fairleigh Dickinson or Princeton, anyone?
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SPREAD DIFFERENCE?
Alabama was a 23 1/2-point favorite over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Kansas was favored by 22 1/2-over Howard in their first-round matchup — the same spread Fairleigh Dickinson faced against Purdue before the shocking 63-58 victory.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OVER/BELOW?
The old saying is that life is too short to bet under, but it is often the wise play. Some of these totals may give players second thoughts before taking over, but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong move.
The highest totals heading into the tournament were Gonzaga-Grand Canyon, Missouri-Utah State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi-Southeast Missouri State at 155 1/2 each, Xavier-Kennesaw State at 153 1/2, Auburn-Iowa at 151 1 / 2 and Florida Atlantic-Memphis and Colgate-Texas at 150 1/2 each.
NOT REAL UNDERDOGS
Just because the committee puts one team over another does not necessarily mean that it is the better team in the mind of the odds makers. Games where the bottom seed was the early-line favorite: Tenth-seeded Utah State by 1 1/2 points over seventh-seeded Missouri (Missouri won), ninth-seeded West Virginia by 2 1/2 over eighth-seeded Maryland (Maryland won) and ninth-seeded Auburn by 1 1 /2 over eighth-seeded Iowa (Auburn won 83-75).
Circa Sports in Las Vegas likes the odds that the trend of 5-12 opening rounds continues, putting the odds on a No. 12 seed to win at minus-510. The odds are also in favor of a No. 13 beating a four-seed at minus-250.
A win by a No. 14 (plus-110), No. 15 (plus-195) and No. 16 (plus-745) is not as likely, but it is March Madness: A 15 and a 16 won in the first round , after all.
The Big 12 had the highest total for tournament wins by a conference at 11.
The search for the perfect bracket in office pools and everywhere else ended before the second round this year. Wins by the likes of 15-seed Princeton, 13-seed Furman and 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson’s near-historic victory over No. 1 seed Purdue left the number of perfect brackets at 0 late Friday in the major contests powered by ESPN, CBS Sports , NCAA and others.
AP March Madness coverage: and bracket: and and