Underdog St. Bonaventure’s late push to cover the spread against Florida State on Friday was a momentum-changer for Vegas.
Favorites, and the public majority who back them, delivered a series of opening blows to books Thursday, as chalk covered the spread in 11 of 16 games on the NCAA tournament’s first full day.
“It wasn’t just any favorites, either, it was the small favorites, the ones laying 6 or less,” said Jay Kornegay, executive director of the SuperBook at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. “Those are the ones the public really bets and parlays. Every time we lost a key decision it seemed to be tied in on a 2-, 3- or 4-teamer.”
Friday started out much the same. By the time St. Bonaventure and Florida State tipped off, the SuperBook had lost five straight decisions. Favorites covered the first four games of the day, improving to 15-5 against the spread at that point.
The sportsbook at Caesars Palace was in a similar situation. According to Caesars senior analyst Todd Fuhrman, the only favorite they were rooting for in Friday’s early games was Alabama. Creighton, of course, upended the Tide. Fuhrman added that the Florida State-St. Bonaventure was one of his book’s biggest decisions on Friday.
“If St. Bonaventure wouldn’t have covered, it would have been a dark day in the sportsbook,” said Kornegay.
The Bonnies, who were 6.5-point underdogs, were down eight with two minutes to play, but managed a late flurry to cover in a 66-63 loss to the Seminoles.
St. Bonaventure acted as a rally call for underdogs, who covered 15 of the next 27 tournament games.
Heading into the Sweet 16, favorites are 27-20-1 ATS in the second and third round of the tournament.
$10 ticket on North Carolina State at 1,000/1
The SuperBook took only eight bets on North Carolina State to win the national title all season, but one of them was a $10 wager at 1,000/1, according to Kornegay.
The 12th-seeded Wolfpack are 7.5-point underdogs against No. 2 Kansas on Thursday.
After the bracket was released, the SuperBook wrote more tickets on Florida State to win the tournament than any other team. Missouri received the second most action, followed by Michigan State and North Carolina.
Tournament-favorite Kentucky was way down the list. Even Duke received more bets than the Wildcats, said Kornegay.