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It might as well be Christmas Eve because it's been two years since we have had the chance to sweat brackets and bets. The field of 68 tips off tonight with the First Four, then tomorrow we really get it on. I have already placed six bets for Friday's games and I'm sure I will place at least six more later today.
Before we really get into the madness, I'm going to take a few moments to run down the futures market based on data provided by our partners at PointsBet.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are clearly the betting favorite to win the whole tournament at +250. In fact, 11 % of the wagers placed on the outright tournament winners market back the Bulldogs. That 11% of the bet counts for 19% of the money in the outright winners market. In my opinion, the Bulldogs basically have a bye to the Final Four.
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The Michigan Wolverines have attracted the second-highest ticket count to win it all at 8%. Wolverines backers have 10% of the money in the outright winners market. Michigan has not looked great down the stretch, and they have a tough draw as the top seed in the East. Sports betting became legal in Michigan earlier this year, which could be why a national title for Michigan at +825 would be a worst-case scenario for sportsbooks. I would fade the Wolverines.
The Fighting Illini of Illinois have received 7% of the overall bet count and they look excellent heading into the tournament. However, the Midwest region does have some upset-minded teams and a weekend matchup between Illinois and Loyola-Chicago would certainly be a lot of fun to watch. The Fighting Illini at +725 to win it all is being backed by 7% of the money.
The South region's top-seeded Baylor Bears have 6% of the ticket count in the outright market. Currently on PointsBet, Baylor is +625 to win it all, but the Bears' road to the Final Four won't be easy. A second-round matchup vs. either North Carolina or Wisconsin would be hotly contested, while Texas Tech, Arkansas and Ohio State won't make it easy for Baylor to escape the region.
In addition to the No. 1 seeds, the Texas Longhorns at +4000 on PointsBet have received over 2% of the ticket handle and 2% of the money count to win it all. If the Longhorns, which are the No. 3 seed in the East (Michigan is No. 1, Alabama is No. 2), were to cut down the nets, it would be a critical blow to sportsbooks. My final futures market wager will be $100 on Texas to win the whole thing.
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