By MARK ANDERSON (AP Sportswriter)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — March Madness isn’t just about filling in — and later deleting — parentheses. There are even more ways to bet on the field at the NCAA tournament, an event that’s sure to delight basketball fans over the next three weeks. Here’s a look at the favourites, underdogs and long shots.
WHO FAVORITE TO REACH THE FINAL FOUR?
Earlier this week, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, the front runner Houston was the plus-135 favorite, who emerged as representing the Midwest region and played in Houston. That means a bet of $100 pays out $135. The next top team in the region is No. 5 Texas at plus-350.
Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed, was up 150 for coming from the South.
The most competitive region seems to be the West. Top-seeded Kansas opened as a slight favorite but later shared that spot with No. 7 UCLA at plus-330. No. 9 Gonzaga was not far behind at plus-400.
Top seed Purdue was up-300 to come from the East, but the Boilermakers lost in the first round.
WHO WILL BE PREFERRED TO WIN THE TITLE?
After a series of upsets in the first round, the favorites listed by FanDuel Sportsbook got a little mixed up heading into the second round of the tournament.
Alabama was the top favorite at plus-500, essentially swapping places with Houston (+700), whose star Marcus Sasser is nursing an injury. UCLA was next (+1000), Gonzaga and Texas were both +1200 and Kansas was +1300.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST UNDERDOG?
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Nineteen teams were listed up 50,000: Arizona State, Charleston, Colgate, Furman, Grand Canyon, Howard, Iona, Kennesaw State, Kent State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Montana State, Nevada, Northern Kentucky, Oral Roberts, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi , Texas Southern, UC Santa Barbara, UNC Asheville and Vermont. Furman advanced to the second round with a big win over 4th-ranked Virginia.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SPREAD DIFFERENCE?
Alabama was a 23 1/2 point favorite over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Kansas was favored 22 1/2 over Howard in the first round – the same spread Fairleigh Dickinson faced before his shocking 63-58 win over Purdue.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OVER/UNDER?
The old adage goes that life is too short to bet on the bottom, but it’s often the wise game. Some of these totals may give bettors concerns before taking the helm, but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong move.
The highest totals for the tournament were Gonzaga-Grand Canyon, Missouri-Utah State, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi-Southeast Missouri State at 155 1/2 each, Xavier-Kennesaw State at 153 1/2, Auburn-Iowa at 151 1/2 and Florida Atlantic-Memphis and Colgate-Texas at 150 1/2 each.
NOT REAL UNDERDOGS
Just because the committee favors one team over another doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the better team in the minds of the odds makers. Games where the lower-seeded favorite was in the early series: 10th Utah State, 1 1/2 points clear of Missouri in seventh (Missouri won), West Virginia in ninth, 2 1/2 clear of Maryland in eighth (Maryland won) and Auburn was 1 1/2 ahead of Iowa in eighth place (Auburn won 83-75).
Estimating the odds that the 5-12 excitement trend will continue in the opening round, Circa Sports in Las Vegas posts the odds for a No. 12 seedling at minus 510. Chances are also good for a No. 13 to have a foursome with minus 250 beats.
A win of #14 (up-110), #15 (up-195), and #16 (up-745) isn’t that likely, but that’s March Madness: A 15 and a 16 have in the first round won , finally.
The Big 12 had the highest total of tournament wins in any conference at 11.
The hunt for the perfect mount in office pools and everywhere else ended before the second round this year. Wins by 15 seed Princeton, 13 seed Furman and 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson against No. 1 Purdue left the number of perfect brackets down to 0 late Friday in the major competitions hosted by ESPN, CBS Sports, the NCAA and others .
AP March Madness coverage: and bracket: and and