Hoosiers hot at 8-1!

Mar 26, 2002 9:23 AM

Despite beating Duke, the tournament’s number one seed, Indiana remains a dark horse to win the NCAA basketball championship.

But its longshot odds of 8-1 at press time make the Hoosiers a great choice for bettors. So says a high-stakes bettor who preferred to remain anonymous.

“The odds are out of whack,” the bettor said. “Plus the situation leading up to the championship game really favors the Hoosiers.”

On Monday, Kansas was installed as the favorite to win the tournament at 8-5, with Maryland a close second choice at 9-5. Oklahoma, Indiana’s ­­opponent on Saturday, wasn’t far back at 2-1, and the Sooners were installed as a 6-point pick over the Hoosiers.

“Everyone seems to forget that Indiana upset Duke, who was practically everyone’s pick to walk away with this tournament,” the bettor said. “Even if Indiana’s Cloverdale isn’t 100 percent for this weekend’s games, you have to believe there’s a ”˜destiny’ type of thing setting up for Indiana.

“Also, you have the two favorites, Maryland and Kansas, squaring off on Saturday,” the bettor continued. “That game figures to be a war, probably going right down to the wire. You have to believe the battle will take something out of the winner.”

While it would obviously be an upset for Indiana to break through and win it all, it certainly would not be unprecedented. Since 1980, number one seeds have won the tournament 12 times, but that means a non-number one seed won it eight times, or 40 percent of the time.

Moreover, over the past 20 tourneys, a number four seed has won it once, a number six twice and a number eight once. Indiana was seeded fifth when the tourney began.

“There’s no question a Hoosier win would be an upset, but at odds of 8-1 it’s hard not to consider them,” the bettor said.

This past weekend, the favored teams were only 2-2 against the spread, although favorites in general are 33-27 ATS and the higher seeds are 42-18 in beating the lower seed outright.

However, teams seeded 1-3 in the tournament are only 15-20 ATS, so it hasn’t been a cakewalk.

Sports books in Las Vegas report the betting on the NCAA tournament has been among the best in recent years.

“The best action occurred the first weekend,” said John Avello, sports director at Bally’s and Paris. “The books did well that first day, and have been able to keep their heads above water since.”

At the Hard Rock, Vic Curiel reported that the house did well on Sunday with players cashing some nice tickets on Saturday. “The action has been great and the crowds very enthusiastic,” Curiel said.

Out in Summerlin, players have also been diligently playing the tournament, and several hundred turned out for the Rampart Casino’s free Sweet 16 contest. Although no one went 16-0 to win the $5,000 prize, several players hit 12 and 13 teams to make the Sweet 16, and took home $25 and $50 consolation prizes.