The worst thing about the Round of 16 is the waiting. NCAA tournament bettors have been holding their collective breath since Sunday and moving the Sweet 16 odds in the process.
We talk to John Avello, sportsbook director at the Wynn Las Vegas, about the betting action heading into Thursday’s first slate of Sweet 16 games.
Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Miami Hurricanes – Open: -6, Move: -5
This line jumped down a full point when Miami reserve center Reggie Johnson was ruled out with a knee injury. The Hurricanes rely on their physical brand of basketball and will miss Johnson’s seven rebounds per game against an equally physical Marquette squad.
“He’s their big body in the middle,” Avello says of Johnson. “But people have high hopes for this Miami team and the money will come in tomorrow. This will go back up to -5.5 and maybe -6.”
As for futures money, Miami is lined up as a loser for sportsbooks if the Canes can win the national title - even more so now that Avello took some big bets on Miami to win this past week.
Arizona Wildcats vs. Ohio State Buckeyes – Open: -4.5, Move: -3
The Buckeyes come to Los Angeles to take on the upstart Wildcats in the Sweet 16. Early money has bet Ohio State down a point and a half, leaning on Arizona’s size advantage and expected crowd edge in the Staples Center.
OSU might have another weakness though. Head coach Thad Matta went just three deep into his bench in a last-second win over Iowa State in the Round of 32.
“I think the biggest problem with Ohio State is how deep their bench is,” he says. “If they get into foul trouble, the Buckeyes could really be in trouble.”
Syracuse Orange vs. Indiana Hoosiers – Open: -5.5
This spread has stayed still since post, a product of the popularity of the two programs. Syracuse and Indiana have their loyal followings, but sharps could come in late and force books to adjust this line.
“There is always a respect for Syracuse,” says Avello. “I didn’t think they were playing that well at the end of the season and they surprised me to be in this spot.”
“There’s something to be said for great coaching at this time year,” he adds. “Guys like Jim Boeheim, and (Tom) Izzo, and (Mike) Krzyzewski and (Bill) Self from Kansas. They’re always here. We put weight into the coaching aspect but it’s not enough. We give it a lot but it’s not enough weight.”
La Salle Explorers vs. Wichita State Shockers – Open: -3.5, Move: -4
Some places aren’t expecting much handle on this Cinderella vs. Cinderella Sweet 16 matchup, but Avello says the staggered starts and the late tipoff could have a lot of money running into this game.
As for the futures money tied up in this contest, Wichita State was as big as 125-1 at the start of the season, now 45-1, and La Salle was among the “Field” which was set at 50-1. Fellow Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast was also priced amongst the “Field”.