Final Four Vegas Betting Report: Books Rooting Against Auburn
Jay Biggerstaff, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Bruce Pearl
LAS VEGAS — Even though this NCAA Tournament has lacked the drama we’ve seen in previous seasons, the Final Four is still drawing plenty of action from both sharp and square bettors.
With such a big handle expected, it is interesting to see how the betting market is shaping up, so I spoke with a few bookmakers in Vegas to find out how things look behind the window.
Betting Odds: Auburn vs. Virginia
- Spread: Virginia -5.5
- Over/Under: 131.5
- Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
It seems like public bettors definitely love the Tigers, but some bookmakers in Las Vegas think they also may just hate Virginia.
“The public is just piling on Auburn here,” Jeff Davis, sportsbook risk manager at Caesars Palace, said. “The ticket count is almost 3 to 1 on Auburn and the moneyline ticket count is even higher.”
Auburn is the highest seed left, play an eye-pleasing style and have treated bettors well this tournament, so it makes sense that casual punters are betting with their heart. Virginia on the other hand plays at a much slower pace and struggled against Oregon and Purdue, which has made the Cavaliers unattractive to speculators.
“There’s been conflicting sharp interest here,” Davis explained. “When we’ve gone from -5.5 down to -5 there’s been people who have laid the 5 to get us back to -5.5. So, -5.5 is probably the number we’ll be at when the game starts, but it wouldn’t shock me if the number moves a little bit more towards Auburn late. The public has really fallen in love with Auburn’s style and the quality of their opposition. They’ve also never really shown a ton of Virginia support throughout the tournament. So I expect to see a lot of the public betting with their hearts here in supporting Auburn.”
There’s more of a Pros-vs-Joes split at CG Technology, according to Tony DiTommaso.
“The game opened at -5.5 here and the sharps jumped in immediately and bet the game down to -5 but since then we’ve seen a ton of favorite money,” DiTommaso explained. “We’re pretty high on Virginia at this point so we’re back to -5.5. Interestingly though, the ticket count is 2 to 1 on Auburn and the moneyline is pretty high on the Auburn side as well. But a lot of the Auburn money we’re seeing is smaller bets at the moment.”
As of Thursday night DiTommaso said they will be rooting for Virginia, but he seems to be in the minority.
“Our biggest liability is mid-five-figures on Auburn, but I don’t think it will get past Virginia this week,” Derek Wilkinson, executive director at the Westgate Superbook, noted. “We’re rooting for either Virginia or Michigan State. Both of those would be six-figure wins for the book.”
Betting Odds: Texas Tech vs. Michigan State
- Spread: -2.5
- Over/Under: 132.5
- Time: 8:49 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
There’s a lot of buzz on social media regarding the Westgate’s liability on Texas Tech and a particular future bet a customer made months back on the Red Raiders at 200-1 for $1500.
But, according to Wilkinson, the Westgate is surprisingly not concerned about the Red Raiders.
“We’ve had a six-figure liability on Texas Tech throughout most of the season,” Wilkinson said. “However, our risk management director, Ed Salmons, has done a really great job of balancing the books in the last couple of weeks. At the moment, we would actually only lose less than $10k if the Red Raiders win the title.”
As for Saturday night’s game, Davis said sharp bettors at Caesars are siding with Texas Tech but the squares are on Michigan State.
“This is definitely going to be a ‘Pros vs Joe’s’ type of game. We opened the line at MSU -3 early in the week but the sharps pushed it down to -2.5, even though the ticket count is 2 to 1 for Michigan State,” Davis explained. “As expected there are more tickets on the Spartans on the spread but more tickets on Tech on the moneyline. I really don’t see this changing at any point even when the money starts rolling in heavily on Saturday.”
DiTommaso said they are seeing a similar pattern.
“The game opened here at Michigan State -3 and the sharps absolutely could not wait to jump on that number and take Texas Tech. It dropped the line to -2.5 where it stands now,” DiTommaso said. “We’ve been seeing a steady stream of money come back on the Spartans as the week has progressed. I anticipate the ticket count to be about even here as we get closer to tip off. So it definitely has a ‘Pro’s vs Joe’s’ feel to it. But I think this number is pretty locked in at this point. It’s a very fun game to book for sure.”