2023 NCAA Tournament Maryland vs. West Virginia odds: Game sees biggest spread shift, most one-sided action of all first-round matchups
The first game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament's first round tips off on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Ala., as No. 9 seed West Virginia of the Big 12 faces No. 8 Maryland of the Big Ten in South Region action. There's a long way to go, but as of today this game has had the biggest spread shift at Caesars Sportsbook of any first-round matchup and also is taking the heaviest action on one side.
Oddsmakers opened Bob Huggins' Mountaineers as 1-point underdogs, but they are now -2 with West Virginia taking a whopping 98% of the betting handle on the spread.
"This game definitely seems like a toss-up," said Adam Pullen, Assistant Director of Trading at Caesars Sportsbook. "I can't say I'm surprised by the move, the Big 12 gets a lot of love and it's deserved since I think it's the best conference top-to-bottom in college basketball. The percentages early on are a bit skewed because the public isn't really getting involved just yet. The sharps were on West Virginia when we opened it, but there will probably be more Maryland bets coming in closer to the tip."
With Jim Boeheim having retired after Syracuse's ACC Tournament loss, Huggins now is the winningest active men's coach. He has led two teams in his career to the Final Four, and the Mountaineers are +1400 to win the South Region. This will be West Virginia's 31st NCAA appearance and its 11th under Huggins, who owns a 14-10 record in the tournament at his alma mater.
Kevin Willard is coaching his first season at Maryland after a successful 12-year run at Seton Hall in which he led the Pirates to five Big Dance appearances, including a second-round game in 2018. The Terrapins are +2500 to win the South. This will mark the 30th all-time appearance for Maryland, which has a 43-28 record in the NCAA Tournament and won has 14 of its past 15 opening round games dating back to 1997. The Terrapins were 17-1 at home this season and 4-11 elsewhere, so perhaps that helps explain all the early WVU action.
The Terrapins and Mountaineers share one common opponent in East No. 1 seed Purdue. West Virginia lost by 12 to the Boilermakers in a neutral-site matchup, while Maryland split two regular-season meetings with the Big Ten champion – winning easily at home and losing a tight one on the road.
West Virginia leads the all-time series with Maryland, 24-14, with the teams last meeting in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The winner presumably faces No. 1 overall seed Alabama in the Round of 32.
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