Maryland Is NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tourney Favorite, But Will Sport Attract Betting?

Posted on May 13, 2022 - Last Updated on May 23, 2022

The Maryland men’s lacrosse team, ranked No. 1 in the country at 16-0 this season, continued its quest for a potential national championship with an 18-9 win over Virginia in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. With the victory, the Terrapins advance to their seventh Final Four in the last nine years.

The NCAA lacrosse tournament is underway, and this may be a sport that Marylanders flock to on the betting front in the future. Some national operators boast title odds for their online sportsbooks.

Unfortunately, a retail sports betting option doesn’t exist for Maryland bettors currently. Despite some skepticism within the industry, mobile sports betting is expected to launch in the state by the end of the year.

There’s reason to believe lacrosse could be popular at sportsbooks. Here’s why.

Lacrosse is a growing sport

Nationally, lacrosse is not a widely popular sport. Some sportsbooks don’t even carry odds for the NCAA tournament.

However, nearly 400,000 viewers tuned into last year’s championship game. That’s a respectable number that puts it in line with regular-season MLB games and some NBA games.

On the women’s side, ESPN recently announced that it would cover 450 games on its networks. And Maryland, both the people and the tax department, could profit next year when one can place bets online.

Lacrosse is a Maryland sport

Maryland, whose state team sport is lacrosse, is a staple in the tournament. A Maryland team played in the men’s championship game in five of the past 10 years. The women’s team did even better, representing the Old Line State in seven of the last 10 championship games.

Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote how both the men’s and women’s programs at Maryland are special. Right now, however, you can only find lines on the men’s tournament, and even those games are not widely available.

Those odds are encouraging and unsurprising after a dominant season for the undefeated Terps. On DraftKings, which doesn’t have a physical presence in Maryland, they were given -160 odds to win it all prior to the tournament’s start. Georgetown, who lost to Delaware in the first round, was a distant second choice at +425.

BetMGM, Horseshoe Baltimore’s betting partner, also boasts title odds for the men’s lacrosse tournament, but they are only offered online. The Terps were given -145 odds to win it all here, while no other team carried odds shorter than +600 (Georgetown).

When it comes to Maryland’s strength, Terry Foy of InsideLacrosse said, “Maryland is an easy No. 1 pick.”

ESPN’s Quint Kessenich, however, provided a word of caution for bettors prior to the tournament. It was never going to be an easy road for the Terps, who sit on the same side of the bracket as No. 3 Princeton, No. 6 Yale, No. 9 Virginia and No. 10 Brown (RPI rankings).

“You’ve done Maryland no favors. This bracket has zero equity,” Kessenich said.

Lacrosse’s betting strength

While we can only speculate on how much Marylanders would bet on lacrosse in the future, that amount should be higher than in most other states.

Currently, Indiana, Colorado, and New Jersey are in the minority of states that publish detailed revenue reports that include a betting breakdown by specific sport. Both Indiana and New Jersey only include football, basketball, baseball and parlays, while the rest get placed into the broad “other” category.

However, these two states may not be the most ideal to use as examples of how lacrosse could possibly fare in Maryland. Indiana has little appetite for the sport and New Jersey’s betting law doesn’t allow wagering on in-state colleges.

Colorado is different, though. The state breaks down its sports more specifically. The University of Denver was in the tournament last year and even claimed the men’s championship in 2015 … beating Maryland.

In May 2021, over half of Colorado’s handle went to basketball and baseball (54.6%), while parlays were third with 17.5%. In fourth was “other,” which would include lacrosse, but unlike Indiana and New Jersey, Colorado continues to list the sports within. Those included hockey, table tennis, soccer, tennis, golf, and MMA.

The “other” category received 6.7% of total wagers that month. In June (once the tournament ended), the percentage dropped to 5.6%. Correlation does not equal causation, but one can imagine. Lacrosse in Maryland would likely get more tickets than table tennis did in Colorado, with a whopping 4.1% that month.

It’s safe to assume that online betting will be the preferred method of betting among Marylanders whenever mobile does launch within the state. For reference,  Colorado bettors placed 100% of their wagers for “other” sports, all $16.75 million, online. This could be a situation in which these offerings were only available online, but one would have to think lacrosse could bring in a hefty sum of wagers.

How to watch

Following its win over Virginia, Maryland will square off against Princeton in the national semifinals. The Terps got their revenge over the Cavaliers, who were the last team to defeat Maryland during last season’s title game.

Princeton advanced to the Final Four after defeating Yale 14-10 over the weekend. The two teams will play with a trip to the finals on the line on Saturday, May 28. The game will air on ESPN 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Maryland women’s team also advanced to the Final Four of their tournament with an 18-5 win over Florida. The second-seeded Terps will face No. 3 Boston College with a chance to advance to the finals on Friday, May 27. The game will air on ESPNU at 5 p.m. ET.

Maryland is the only school with both its men’s and women’s programs in the Final Four.

Photo by AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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Ethan Matthew

Ethan Matthew was born and raised in Silver Spring and has written articles for PlayVirginia and George Washington University's HNN. He also researched and wrote content for museum exhibits in both Boston and Washington, DC.

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