Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/25/2008 04:57:00 PM
Day 14: Following The Money
NEW YORK -- For the NCAA, Vegas odds are such a taboo subject that they'll be making teams participate in mandatory "Don't Bet On It" gambling seminars at this week's regional sites. And while gambling is not condoned by this blog, there is plenty of good information to be gleaned from sportsbooks' handicapping of NCAA tournament futures. Because as much as I'd like to think our writers' brackets on SI.com have some value, it's probably more worthwhile to just follow the money.
Tourney Blog collaborator Jacob Wheatley-Schaller, the Emory student behind Vegas Watch, calculated the percentage chance each Sweet 16 team has to reach the Final Four, based on Monday odds from multiple sportsbooks. I'm reprinting Jacob's data here, along with my commentary. Let's start with the South Region, where I'll be this weekend:
South Region: Houston
Sd. Team Vegas% 1 Memphis 37.0% 2 Texas 27.8% 3 Stanford 21.8% 5 Michigan St. 13.4%
What you should care about: Of all the No. 1 seeds, Vegas has the least confidence in Memphis to make the Final Four. The Tigers check in at a whopping 14.2 percentage points lower than Vegas' second-most-vulnerable No. 1 seed, North Carolina (51.2 percent in the East). The rest of the Heels' region looks like this:
East Region: Charlotte
Sd. Team Vegas% 1 North Carolina 51.2% 3 Louisville 22.6% 2 Tennessee 16.8% 4 Washington St. 9.4%
What you should care about: For those who put cash behind their picks -- and don't just pontificate on SI.com -- Tennessee's stock is really slipping. Vegas thinks Louisville has a much better shot than the Vols do of reaching San Antonio.
What you should care about: The Badgers are at least getting a little bit of credit for their School of D. Davidson isn't being given much of a shot to knock off UW, even after beating Gonzaga and Georgetown in Raleigh.
West Region: Phoenix
Sd. Team Vegas% 1 UCLA 64.6% 7 West Virginia 15.7% 3 Xavier 14.9% 12 Western Ky. 4.8%
What you should care about: Percentage-wise, UCLA has the easiest road to the Final Four, and Western Kentucky is the biggest longshot of the 16 -- but you probably didn't need odds to come to that conclusion. What's more interesting is that seventh-seeded West Virginia is given a better shot that third-seeded Xavier. Bettors love Huggs, apparently.
• In the Tourney Blog pool, where only SI.com fame -- and not cash -- is on the line, we have two leaders out of 5,490 brackets after the first weekend. The pair who are tied with 54 points are:
- Michael Edwards, a senior at the University of South Florida ... who unfortunately also picked Duke to win it all. - Kellen Freeman, from Honolulu, Hawaii, who has Memphis beating Louisville in his final.
The blog has contacted both of them via Facebook, in hopes of learning more about our frontrunners. If you're near the lead in the Blog Pool and want pub once you jump to No. 1, send over a friend request.
(If you care, I'm currently ranked 243rd. Top five percent ain't bad.)
• We slacked a bit on the Tourney Playlist, curated by Gorilla vs. Bear, so we're dropping two mp3s today: Day 13's track is King Khan & The Shrines' Welfare Bread, and Day 14's is Spoon's The Underdog, which could be Western Kentucky's anthem in Phoenix.