March 18, 2013
The selection committee wasn't the only group to be impressed with Louisville's run to the Big East tournament title.
Sportsbook.com released its odds for the NCAA Tournament and the Cardinals are the clear favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta. The top overall seed in the bracket, Louisville (9/2 odds) is looking to return to the Final Four for the second consecutive season.
The program has won two national titles, with Darrell Griffith leading the way in 1980 and freshman Pervis Ellison doing so six years later.
Following Louisville on the list of 20 schools are Indiana (7/1), Duke (8/1) and Kansas (8/1). The fourth top seed, Gonzaga, would pay the same odds as Florida and Miami (10/1). The most surprising aspect of that is the presence of the Gators, who are 0-6 this season in games decided by nine points or less.
However the Cardinals aren't the consensus favorite among sports books, which may be fitting given how the college basketball season has gone. VegasInsider.com lists Indiana as the early favorite to win the national title, with the Hoosiers (9/2 odds) looking to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2002.
That Final Four was played in Atlanta, with the Hoosiers falling to Maryland in the title game.
This coming weekend is one of the busiest of the year in Las Vegas, with thousands descending on the city to take in the NCAA Tournament and place wagers on the action. And according to the Las Vegas Sun, sports books stand to benefit from this season's unpredictability.
Jimmy Vaccaro, William Hill sports books spokesman and longtime oddsmaker, doesn't even know where to start with what teams are the most popular wagers to win the title.
"They're taking everybody," Vaccaro said. "When you get a season like this where it's a total roller coaster, it's good for the books. There are so many teams you can make a case for, and that's what makes booking futures great.
The NCAA may not be thrilled with the prospect of sports betting, but there's no doubt that it's something many fans look forward to this time of year.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
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