Kentucky’s Loss to Saint Peter’s a Big Win for Sportsbooks

Kentucky’s Loss to Saint Peter’s a Big Win for Sportsbooks article feature image

Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Kentucky players react at the end of their upset loss to Saint Peter’s.

Sportsbooks rejoiced on Thursday night after one of the public's favorites to win the entire tournament — the Kentucky Wildcats — inexplicably lost in the first round to No. 15 seed Saint Peter's.

Saint Peter's had been +1400 on the moneyline and +18.5 on the spread heading into Thursday night's contest. Conversely, Kentucky was -5000 on the moneyline.

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Kentucky was the third- or fourth-biggest liability at most major American sportsbooks to win the entire tournament.

That means Thursday was a huge day for sportsbooks, with guaranteed profits heading their way from futures on the first real day of action.

The Wildcats had also been roughly the fifth-most popular pick at ESPN to win it all, according to their bracket data.

Kentucky is now the fifth-biggest favorite to lose in the NCAA Tournament since 1978.

The only other teams to have worst losses are:

  • Norfolk State +21 vs. Missouri in 2012
  • UMBC +20 vs. Virginia in 2018
  • Coppin State +18.5 vs. South Carolina in 1997
  • Santa Clara +18.5 vs. Arizona in 1993

The Wildcats also now enter a disreputable list of No. 2 seeds to have been upset by No. 15 seeds.

Duke, Georgetown, Michigan State, Ohio State, Arizona and others are on that list, too.

No. 15 seeds entered the NCAA Tournament as the best underdog seed against the spread since 1985.

Entering play on Thursday, No. 15 seeds had gone 76-65-3 (53.9%) against the spread since 1985.

No. 12 seeds facing off against No. 5 seeds aren’t far behind at 75-65-4 ATS (53.6%). Yet, for a second-place underdog, they tend to receive more of the luster in public discourse.

The three No. 15 vs. No. 2 seed matchups for Friday are:

  • Jacksonville State (+15.5) vs. Auburn
  • Delaware (+15.5) vs. Villanova
  • Cal State Fullerton (+18.5) vs. Duke

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Nick Sterling
Jun 16, 2024 UTC