After a lot of upsets and a crazy Cinderella story, the Sweet 16 is officially set. Bettors are getting ready for the second wave of March Madness wagering. The next slate of games begin on Thursday, March 24.
What was the single biggest win for the book? For the public? Caesars Sportsbook sports trader Grant Tucker sat down with TheLines to give us an inside look.
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Q&A with Caesars Sportsbook’s Grant Tucker
After last weekend’s games, how aggressively did you have to move Kansas’ line again?
The Jayhawks survived a scare against Creighton. Now they play Providence on Friday and then the winner of Iowa State and Miami. Compared to the other team’s matchups in the Sweet 16, they definitely have an easier route. If you just look at their path to the Final Four, the Jayhawks definitely have the easiest one. We had to bump them down. We have them now at +475. Last week we had them at 9-1. They are second on our odds board just behind Gonzaga.
Which March Madness games have been the biggest winners for Caesars so far?
Generally speaking, any time a big favorite goes down it is good for the books. When Kentucky was an 18-point favorite, they were shot down by 15-seed Saint Peter’s. It’s really hard to believe honestly. The Peacocks just couldn’t miss. If they play that game 100 times, Kentucky probably wins 92 of them. Kentucky had 7% of our total outright tickets going into that game on Thursday. People were shooting them in through the first three or four rounds and maybe even anticipating them to make a deep run in the tournament. The public thought they were going to win it all but they couldn’t even get past a No. 15 seed.
Another game that stood out is New Mexico State vs. UConn. UConn is a team you are used to seeing deep in the tournament. And New Mexico State is a team that many people, including myself, were really high on. But winning that game outright was a shock to most people.
Another one that was really big was Richmond over Iowa. Iowa was one of the hottest teams in the country and nobody really saw the Richmond Spiders pulling that one off. So that was another big one for the book.
What about the biggest winners for the public?
The public also had a few good wins over the weekend. The first one that jumps off the page is UNC over Baylor. We took a lot of late action on the Tar Heels. UNC had 93% of the money and 53% of the tickets. UNC was +5.5 in that game.
The public likes to back good teams. They have been laying the points with Gonzaga, Kansas and Duke and it has been working out well for them.
There was one Duke game … it was Fullerton in the first round, where the public got a bad beat with a dunk with no time left. But as a whole, the public has been backing those top seeds and they have been covering the points.
Have you taken any big bets to win the title or the region once the Sweet 16 was decided?
There hasn’t been anything too noteworthy heading into the Sweet 16. A big bet we did take on this first weekend was right before tipoff. We had one customer bet $230,000 on the TCU Horned Frogs at +2.5 against Seton Hall. That was a nice win for him. TCU blew them out.
Which game do you anticipate to be the most heavily bet on this round?
Everyone always loves a good Cinderella. Saint Peter’s is a team that is on the news on every single channel. The Peacocks are everywhere. So that is a team that will be high in the public’s eye because they are in the spotlight.
But when it comes to the most anticipated games in this round, I would say Texas Tech vs. Duke is one that jumps off the page. Texas Tech is a one-point favorite there. Coach K is trying to go on this miracle run. So that is going to be a good game.
Houston vs. Arizona I think is the matchup of the weekend. The winner of that game can go on a deep run. I think Houston has the playing style and the athletes to really contend with Arizona. And we saw Arizona the other night barely escape against TCU. In my opinion, Houston is like a better TCU. A very similar playing style. They can shoot a lot better. A little bit more athletic. So I think TCU maybe showed them the blueprint of how to contain the Wildcat offense. So I think Houston has a great chance in that one.
You have a Cinderella story happening with Saint Peter’s out of New Jersey … what is the impact of people in the state not being able to legally wager on NJ college teams?
Any time a local fanbase can’t back their team, especially when it’s a great story like this, there’s definitely an impact. I feel bad for the fans. But I did see some articles where the state might be looking into this rule.
Current March Madness Splits at Caesars
Arkansas vs. Gonzaga
- Arkansas: 59% of tickets
- Gonzaga: 56% of dollars
- Over: 51% of tickets, 64% of dollars
- Gonzaga moneyline: 84% of tickets, 77% of dollars
Houston vs. Arizona
- Arizona: 68% of tickets, 61% of dollars
- Over: 64% of tickets, 75% of dollars
- Arizona moneyline: 65% of tickets, 65% of dollars
Texas Tech vs. Duke
- Duke: 64% of tickets, 68% of dollars
- Over: 78% of tickets, 76% of dollars
- Duke moneyline: 72% of tickets, 80% of dollars
Michigan vs. Villanova
- Villanova: 55% of tickets, 67% of dollars
- Over: 79% of tickets, 60% of dollars
- Villanova moneyline: 71% of tickets, 60% of dollars