Overall No. 1 Louisville is a slight betting favorite to win the NCAA tournament, but Las Vegas casinos think any one of several teams have a legitimate shot at winning college basketball’s national championship.
Executive Director Jay Kornegay of the race and sports book at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino had Louisville at 9-2 odds on Sunday night after the tournament’s seedings were announced. Right behind the Cardinals were third overall No. 1 seed Indiana at 7-1 and three teams at 8-1 — No. 2 seeds Duke and Miami, along with Florida, a No. 3 seed.
But good luck finding a consensus.
“When people look at the odds, it reflects opinion and money, and not necessarily in that order,” Kornegay said.
Miami, for example, has been a big fan favorite after opening the season at 200-1 odds to win the national championship, Kornegay said.
Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports for MGM Resorts International, said Louisville would also be the top favorite at its 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Indiana, whom Kornegay set as his casino’s second-highest favorite, will open behind Duke, Kansas and Georgetown at MGM Resorts, Rood said.
Last year, eventual champ Kentucky were a clear favorite from the tournament’s start.
“There’s more parity,” said gambling expert R.J. Bell of Pregame.com. “There’s going to be that bundle at the top.”
Bell said that despite an unfathomable number of bracket combinations, casinos know that a No. 4 seed or better has won the title in 24 straight years.
“There’s only really 16 teams that history says has any chance,” Bell said.