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March Madness betting guide: Alabama, Houston favored

Alabama coach Nate Oats reacts after a score during the second half of the team's second-round college basketball game against Maryland in the men's NCAA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/AP
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FR111446 AP
Alabama coach Nate Oats reacts after a score during the second half of the team's second-round college basketball game against Maryland in the men's NCAA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

March Madness was just that over the first two rounds with No. 1 seed Purdue going down to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson and No. 2 seed Arizona falling to No. 15 seed Princeton. And then things got crazier on the final shot of the weekend when TCU's Damion Baugh hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer that covered the 4 1/2-point spread against Gonzaga. Now, the NCAA Tournament moves to the Sweet 16 and beyond. Here's a look at what to watch for from a betting standpoint when games resume Thursday.

WHO’S FAVORED TO REACH THE FINAL FOUR?

Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed, is a minus-145 favorite to come out of the South Region, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, meaning someone would have to bet $145 to win $100. Sixth-seeded Creighton is next at plus-175.

Houston is the other No. 1 seed still playing, and the Cougars are minus-115 favorites in the Midwest Region. No. 2 seed Texas is next at plus-190.

In the West Region, No. 4 seed UConn is the favorite at plus-185, second-seeded UCLA is at plus-195 and No. 3 seed Gonzaga is not far behind at plus-230.

All four East Region teams are somewhat close to each other — fourth-seeded Tennessee at plus-125, No. 7 seed Michigan State at plus-270, No. 3 seed Kansas State at plus-320 and No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic at plus-470.

WHO’S FAVORED TO WIN THE TITLE?

After a batch of upsets, the favorites heading into the Sweet 16 are: Alabama at plus-330, Houston at plus-410, UCLA and UCONN at plus-850, Creighton at plus-950 and Texas at plus-1,000. According to FanDuel, Houston has been the most bet on team since the tournament began, but UConn has received the most money.

WHO IS THE BIGGEST UNDERDOG?

This might be the tournament to take a flier. Two south Florida teams, No. 5 seed Miami and FAU, are each listed at plus-5,000 and Xavier is at plus-4,200. Princeton is the only school not listed on the FanDuel website.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST SPREAD DIFFERENCE?

Alabama was a 7 1/2-point favorite to eliminate fifth-seeded San Diego State. Houston is favored by the same amount over Miami.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST OVER/UNDER?

Only two games have totals north of 140 points — Texas-Xavier at 148 1/2 and UCLA-Gonzaga at 145 1/2.

HE DID WHAT?

Gonzaga led 84-78 with .7 seconds left in Sunday's second round and had no interest in playing defense in a game that was wrapped up. Baugh wasn't ready to stop, however, even as the players and coaches began to shake hands. He jogged behind a rolling ball up the court so that the clock wouldn't tick all the way down. Then shortly after crossing midcourt, Baugh scooped up the ball and threw in a 3-pointer to make the final scored 84-81. Gonzaga players didn't seem to notice, but those who bet on the game certainly did. Baugh's shot awarded those who bet TCU with the cover on the 4 1/2-point spread. Gonzaga bettors were not too pleased and let Baugh know about it. He responded on Twitter by saying, “Nobody Told Y'all To Bet.”

NOTABLE EARLY BETS

A Caesars Sportsbook bettor in Indiana put $500 on Fairleigh Dickinson to beat Purdue at 20-1 odds and took home $10,000. One Caesars customer in Kansas looked for the sure thing and put $150,000 on Texas at minus-1,200 on the money to beat Colgate and won $12,500.

Parlays are popular, too. At Caesars, an Ohio bettor turned $300 into more than $35,000 by hitting a six-team parlay, and a person in New York cashed when an eight-teamer came in and turned $50 into more than $9,400.

But then there was the 20-team parlay that came in for a BetMGM bettor. The person, whose location was not made available, turned a $1 flier into a $15,650 payout.

PROPS

Circa Sports in Las Vegas has a number of player totals. Among them: Gonzaga's Drew Timme and UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. at 19 points each, UConn’s Adama Sanogo at 17 1/2 and Kansas State's Markquis Nowell at 17.

BRACKETS

Five of the top 10 picks on the ESPN Bracket Challenge game to reach the Final Four are gone — Kansas, Purdue, Arizona, Marquette and Duke. Alabama, however, was the most popular choice to make the Final Four at 36.1%, and the Crimson Tide are on 52.9% of brackets to make the Elite Eight. The Tide also are a popular pick at CBS Sports, appearing on 92.5% to advance this far and 22.3% to win the national championship. The top 33 potential Final Four combinations were eliminated.

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