This year’s NCAA Tournament has lived up to the March Madness billing. With upsets all over the bracket, it’s no surprise that only one No. 1 seed (Kansas) made it to the Final Four.
But will the Jayhawks be the ones to cut down the nets? Will they even be able to get by Villanova? What about the rivalry matchup between Duke and North Carolina? Can Coach K and company keep dancing for one more game?
These are the questions Maryland bettors are asking themselves ahead of the Final Four games on Saturday. For a better look heading in, PlayMaryland set out to paint a picture of the betting trends prior to tip-off.
Online sports betting in Maryland is currently not live. However, residents can place bets in-person at several casinos around the state.
Before getting into it, a disclaimer: The numbers used below were reported through Tuesday at MGM National Harbor and through midday Thursday at Horseshoe Baltimore. With a large number of bets expected in the next 24 hours, these trends are subject to change.
Rival UNC to ruin Coach K’s last ride?
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced before the start of this season that this one would be the last of his legendary career. He’s led the Blue Devils for the last 42 seasons, and the only thing standing between him and a potential storybook ending is longtime rival North Carolina.
In Krzyzewski’s final game ever at Cameron Indoor Stadium to close the regular season, the Tar Heels pulled off the 94-81 upset. They’ll look to play spoiler again on Saturday in the Final Four, this time as a four-point underdog, per Caesars Maryland Sportsbook.
At Horseshoe Baltimore, which boasts a Caesars sportsbook, Duke (-190) is dominating the moneyline over the Tar Heels (+170), with 71% of the handle on 59% of tickets. However, most Maryland bettors are picking UNC to cover the spread at 63% of tickets placed. Duke still holds a slight edge in handle there at 51%.
“The data we’re seeing from Horseshoe Baltimore on UNC vs. Duke is not too surprising,” Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “More money going Duke’s way has been a common theme with the Coach K factor figured in. Plus, Duke has been a top team most of the year, while Carolina has improved steadily through the season, culminating with this great run in the tournament.”
BetMGM is seeing similar results at MGM National Harbor with 64% of bettors in the state selecting the Tar Heels to cover. The big difference here is on the handle, with 61% of it in favor of North Carolina. When looking at the national scale for BetMGM, that number increases to 80%.
When looking at the moneyline at MGM National Harbor, 59% of bets within the Old Line State are also being placed on North Carolina. However, the Blue Devils hold 65% of the handle here.
Of the remaining four teams, Duke is also the most bet-on team within the state to win it all with 15.9% of the national champion pick handle, per BetMGM.
Will Villanova spoil the party at Maryland sportsbooks?
On the other side of the bracket, a lot is riding on Kansas when it comes to the handle. The Jayhawks are given -190 odds to win, per Caesars, while the Wildcats are +170 on the moneyline. Not only are 67% of tickets at Horseshoe Baltimore on the Jayhawks, but they also make up 89% of the handle.
The majority of bettors (54% of tickets) at Horseshoe Baltimore are also picking Kansas to cover the 4.5-point spread as the favorite. The handle? Eighty-three percent.
Similar to above, MGM National Harbor’s handle — both for the spread and moneyline — is also overwhelmingly in Kansas’ favor. While 54% of bets are choosing Villanova outright, 75% of the Maryland moneyline handle at BetMGM Sportsbook is for the Jayhawks. That number increases to a whopping 93% among Maryland bettors for the spread.
In regards to national champion picks, Kansas (7.1% handle) is second behind Duke, while Villanova (3.8%) is last of the remaining teams.
If Villanova is to pull off the upset, it’ll have to do so without one of its star players in Justin Moore. The team’s second-leading scorer tore his Achilles against Houston in the Elite Eight and won’t play on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t put anything past Jay Wright and the Wildcats,” Pullen said. “I don’t think at all that this game will be a mere formality for Kansas, even if the bettors are saying that so far.”
Catch the games on TBS on Saturday, starting with Kansas-Villanova at 6:09 p.m. ET. Duke-UNC will follow from New Orleans at 8:49 p.m. ET.