2023 NCAA Tournament bracket, odds, trends: Sportsbook most exposed on top seeds Kansas, Houston
There has been no repeat national champion in college basketball since Billy Donovan's Florida Gators accomplished the feat in 2007, but a sizable amount of action at BetMGM is on defending champion and West Region No. 1 seed Kansas to cut down the nets in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, even though the Jayhawks might be in the toughest region.
Kansas probably would have been the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance had it won the Big 12 Tournament, but it was smacked in the final by Texas – the Longhorns also soundly defeated Kansas in the regular-season finale. Now Kansas sits atop a loaded West bracket with No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Gonzaga and No. 4 UConn to contend with, among others.
Coach Bill Self missed the Big 12 Tournament for health reasons but is expected back for the Big Dance opener against MEAC Tournament champion Howard on Thursday, with the Jayhawks opening at -21. Up next would be either No. 8 Arkansas or No. 9 Illinois. On Sunday, before the bracket was released, eight teams had national title odds of +1500 or shorter at Caesars Sportsbook. Four of those teams -- Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga and UConn -- landed in the West.
Since BetMGM originally opened 2023 NCAA Tournament odds months ago, Kansas has gone from +1200 to +800 to win it all and is taking the most tickets at 11.6% and most money at 15.8%.
Houston, the No. 1 in the Midwest, is the +550 favorite and taking the second-most tickets at 7.1% and handle at 10% but may have an injury concern with star Marcus Sasser, who didn't play in Sunday's AAC Championship Game loss to Memphis after suffering a groin injury against Cincinnati on Saturday.
Kansas and Houston would meet in the Final Four. It's been 33 years since the last time a champion came from a conference that received fewer than four bids. Houston was one of only two teams to make it from the American Athletic Conference in its final season as a member before it heads to the Big 12.
"This year's NCAA Tournament is wide open. We are expecting more action than ever. We're crossing our fingers that we don't get cleaned out by a massive underdog run like Saint Peter's last year," said Seamus Magee, Sports Trader for BetMGM.
Each of the past five national champions -- and 12 of the last 15 -- have been No. 1 seeds, while no other seed has more than one title in that span. The last No. 1 overall seed to win it all was Louisville in 2013. Alabama (+800) is the top overall seed this year.
Two notable big bets at BetMGM so far to win the tournament: $10,000 to win $250,000 on Gonzaga and $10,000 to win $90,000 on Kansas. They would meet in the Elite Eight.
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