Bookies vs. Bettors: Who Came Out on Top in the Finals?

David Lawrence

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 5:30 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 8, 2014 5:30 PM UTC

Take a look as we recap the NCAA Basketball betting odds throughout the season, and some of the expectations sports bettors and oddsmakers had for the Kentucky Wildcats and UConn Huskies.

If you were a sportsbook, you were probably a little nervous heading into the March Madness championship game. Nothing you hadn’t expected or weren’t prepared for, but still a tad nervous. That’s because there were a slew of Kentucky Wildcats futures that could have cashed in that would have really made things uncomfortable.

The Futures Aspect
If you watched the March Madness tournament, it’s easy to remember that the Kentucky Wildcats were the preseason No. 1 and the favorite at +300 to win the NCAA Championship at the beginning of the season. In the Tournament, they looked every bit that good. 

However, if you watched the regular season, you probably forgot all about Kentucky and the fact that they were the favorites. Just about five weeks ago, they lost to SEC cellar-dweller South Carolina and many people felt it was the low-point in the John Calipari era.

Remember, this was the first team ever to miss the tournament the previous year and then become the preseason No. 1. They were so hyped that some sportsbooks had props one whether they would go undefeated. So the sportsbooks were pretty pleased that the biggest favorite on the futures – and we all know that bettors love betting the favorite on futures – were not going to be in the picture. They were seeded eighth, after all and had a fairly tough draw. At 24-10, they weren’t going to do much damage, right? Wrong. With their marvelous NCAA Tournament run, the Wildcats futures to win it all – and all of the bets from the preseason – came into play once more. That’s why seeing Connecticut cash in and put those bets to bed was a welcome sight for the books.

Not many people invested in the Huskies to win it all. Not preseason, not during the season and not even before the NCAA Tournament. It’s not that they weren’t capable. It’s just that weren’t nearly as sexy a pick as Kentucky. With the Wildcats going down, that helped the books on the futures.

The Championship Game Itself
In terms of the action on the Championship Game specifically, the action looked fairly mixed. Pretty much across the board at all books, the early action came in on Kentucky. Early lines at Pinnacle and BetOnline had the Wildcats as a 2.5-point favorite to start and the line quickly moved up to -3. The moneyline also inched up, starting at -149 at Pinnacle and reaching as high as -155. But then the action on UConn started to take over and the line shifted back down. Right around the time when recreational books came into the picture with their opening lines – most of them around -3 – the action came in on UConn and pushed everyone’s lines down to -2.5.

In theory, one would think that Kentucky would attract more action. They were the sexier team with more talent and a more exciting game than the defensive-minded Huskies. Bookies are probably very happy with the result – especially that the Kentucky futures didn’t cash in.

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