Brackets are set. Sports betting lines are shifting, and Caesars Sportsbook March Madness betting is peaking before the tournament kicks off.
Which teams saw the biggest movement in futures odds after the bracket came out? Which team has taken the most handle? Caesars sports trader Grant Tucker sat down with TheLines.com to give us some insight.
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Walk us through the process of setting lines…how quickly after brackets are set do lines go up?
Caesars got the lines up this year really quickly. As the years go on, it gets easier and easier. At this point in the season, you have 30-32 games that you have seen for each team, so there is a lot of data to go off of. And there’s not much of a home-court advantage. Some of the higher seeds have games about 30 minutes away, but that doesn’t really get factored in as a home-court advantage. About 98% of the time it is a neutral venue. This year, we got the numbers up within 30 minutes once they announced the field.
Which teams were the biggest movers in the futures market once the bracket came out?
In recent years, I can’t remember seeing a team move this much. Obviously, the committee tries to balance the bracket out and make everyone’s road somewhat difficult and even things out. Before the bracket came out, Kansas was 14-1 to win it all, and they were one of the biggest movers I have ever seen. We had to cut them down to 9-1. We were taking a ton of action on the Jayhawks. They are the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region and the public seems to think their road is a little bit easier. When you take a look at it..it kind of is. They have LSU in their region without a head coach.
What percentage of bets come in early in the week vs. game day?
As you would expect, when you first put a line up, the bets you are getting aren’t from your recreational bettors. These people are not betting for entertainment value. They are professional customers trying to make a profit. The day of, you are getting the guys that love the tournament, the ones sitting at their cubicles sweating games. Both customers are awesome. As far as handle goes, the majority is coming in within 24 hours of the game, maybe 60-70%.
Have you seen any popular sides or totals come in from professional bettors?
One of our most respected customers played Chattanooga +8. They play Illinois and that number is long gone now. I think it’s down to +7. He also played Houston -8.5. You can probably still get that one. There has been some opposition on the other side. Houston plays UAB in the first round.
There are a bunch of trendy Cinderella teams. One of the most interesting lines, in my opinion, is the South Dakota State vs. Providence game. Providence is the No. 4 seed and South Dakota State is No. 13 and Providence is only favored by 2 points. That jumps off the page. So we are taking a lot of money on South Dakota State, and that’s because the line really jumps out at you.
Another one that is similar is another No. 4 vs. No. 13 matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks against the Vermont Catamounts. Arkansas is favored by five, but it opened as high as -6.5. We took a bet from one of our sharp guys at Vermont +6 and now it is down to five.
Who has taken the most action so far in Caesars Sportsbook March Madness betting?
As far as ticket count and handle, it is Duke. Duke has 9% of total tickets. After that it’s Gonzaga with 8% and Kentucky and Arizona at 7% each.
Which team is Caesars’ biggest liability?
Gonzaga and Duke so far are the biggest liabilities for the sportsbook.
Anything else we should cover?
LSU was a team I was high on going into the season. I was high on Will Wade as a coach. It’s a weird dynamic now. They are going into the NCAA tournament after just losing their coach. I can’t remember the last time this happened, at least the timing of it.
You wonder if the players will be extra motivated or less motivated. From my understanding, Will Wade was a game-time coach. He could make adjustments on the fly. Let’s say they get to the second round of the tournament. These power five schools have a head coach, associate head coach, and two assistants. So they will divide out the scouting and game plan versus upcoming opponents. I feel like it is super difficult to do that with two guys on staff.
If they get through the first round, they face a really tough Wisconsin team in the second round. I hate to say it…but I think an early exit for the Tigers is more than likely.
Caesars Sportsbook March Madness Betting Splits
Data according to Caesars Sportsbook, as of Wednesday evening. These numbers will shift as tip-off approaches.