The Las Vegas sports books are overdue for a busy night. After raking in more than $138 million dollars in wagers on February’s Super Bowl, Nevada is ready for its next biggest event on the sports calendar. Prospective gamblers will likely flood the internet in hopes of cashing in on the NCAA Championship game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Gonzaga Bulldogs, which tips off this evening in Glendale, Arizona at 9 ET. But, are there any safe bets in tonight’s contest?
If you’re looking to drop some money on the big game, but are confused as to which team you should gamble on, chances are, you are not alone. Historically, Las Vegas has had no clue either. The only guarantee tonight, is that a #1 seed will take home the NCAA’s top prize.
While both North Carolina and Gonzaga enter the evening as a top seed from their regions, the Tar Heels are actually a 1.5 point favorite even though their regular season record pales in comparison to the Bulldogs’ campaign. UNC enters the championship with a 32-7 record, while Gonzaga finished the year, 37-1. So, why are the Tar Heels favored? Do odds makers truly believe in Roy Williams and company, or are they simply taking a shot in the dark based on their history of championship game predictions?
According to Vegas Insider, 15 favorites have captured the title game, while 16 underdogs have won in the last 31 championship games (Duke vs UNLV did not feature a line in 1990). The past three title games have been taken by the underdogs – Villanova, Duke, and Connecticut. Does this make Gonzaga the better bet or is this a total crap-shoot for gamblers?
There may be some history on the Bulldogs’ side in addition to the underdog winning streak. The Tar Heels are looking to avenge their championship loss to Villanova from the past season. The last team to go to two title games in a row, Butler, lost both times in 2010 and 2011. Could history repeat itself for the boys from Chapel Hill?
If you’re unwilling to drop some dough on the Bulldogs, perhaps, betting the over/under may be the way to go. Sports Line currently has the over/under at 155 total points. Vegas has had better luck setting this line over the years. UNC has averaged 84 points per game in the NCAA tournament, while the Zags are putting up an average of 73 points per contest. If both teams stay true to form, gamblers can expect a 157 point night overall.
Seemingly, the only safe bet tonight, is that this will be a tight contest. 15 of the past 21 title games since 1995, have been decided by 10 points or less. This includes the past four games that have finished with a result of 6 or less points.
By the way, I wouldn’t dare make a prediction on the outcome of this game between UNC and Gonzaga, because I have no clue who will win. And, even though they’ll never admit it, Las Vegas doesn’t either.