Most Nevada sports books find themselves rooting against Notre Dame heading into Thursday’s tournament. They’ve already seen action on the Irish from the betting public for Friday’s opening round match against Akron, which has been collectively bet up a half-point from the opener to -13½.
The losses for that game – should they cover – pale in comparison to what will happen if Notre Dame goes on to win five more games after that and win the National Championship.
Most sports books opened Notre Dame as high as 150-to-1 before the season started with many not adjusting too quickly, feeling their 8-0 start to the season wasn’t that big a deal considering three of the teams they played weren’t even games being booked. Two of their other wins were as 15½-point favorites or higher.
However, the bets started slowly coming in early on the Irish after big wins against Georgia, California and then Wisconsin. Their large 72-58 loss to Kentucky had a few sports books feeling the Irish came back to reality, but then they went out and beat Gonzaga and Georgetown.
By that time, the sports books already had a huge risk on Notre Dame. It doesn’t take many $10 bets to make a sports book feel the possibilities of pain by paying out at odds of over 100-to-1.
Over the course of January and February, Notre Dame just kept getting better and impressing the sharpest of prognosticators. They come into the tournament having won 12 of 14 games with the two tough losses in the Big East at West Virginia and then Louisville in the Big East Tournament. Most sports books that offer fair prices have readjusted their odds for the NCAA’s to 25-to-1 despite the huge liability weighing from the initial odds.
In those adjusted odds, which most books put out Sunday night, the top two teams in ticket counts and cash taken have been Connecticut at 25-to-1, who is fresh on everyone’s mind after their impressive run winning the Big East Tournament, and Louisville at 30-to-1, who lost to Connecticut in the title game.
Between the perceived value of getting those type of odds from two of the better teams in what has been the best conference in college basketball this year, bettors can’t get enough of them.
A few books also have found themselves with jeopardy on Ohio State, who were 25-to-1 at some places despite being the No. 5 team in the nation before the season started.
The departure of Evan Turner from last year’s strong Buckeye squad and the uncertainty of just how good Jared Sullinger would be may have played a part in the odds being so high initially. Currently, Ohio State is the 4-to-1 favorite at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.
Action in the Las Vegas books has been steady, but the onslaught hasn’t even started from both the sharps and the public. Only six games had moved at Station Casinos sports books through Tuesday afternoon with the sharps not ready to show their hand yet. Most of the large money plays will come on game day, likely a few minutes before game time, to ensure that some of these sharp groups get their desired number everywhere within a 30 second window. They are pretty stealth with their plan of attacks, and it’s fun watching all the lines move simultaneously with such efficiency.
For the bookmaker, their main hope to combat these group attacking schemes is they only allow one of those plays to get one number and don’t get double and triple popped on the same line from different windows at multiple locations by being too slow on the draw. By waiting until game time, with all the cash flowing furiously in from bettors everywhere, the sharp group’s maestro hopes their bets get lost in the shuffle and the bookmaker is slow with moving the line so his partners can piggy-back on the same number for the same amount.