Madness In Minneapolis: Is There Betting Value To Be Found Among The Final Four?

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We’re just three NCAA tournament games away from the end of the men’s college basketball season, which, in sports betting terms, means we have three games left to wager on.

Top-seed Virginia takes on the closest thing we have to a Cinderella in Auburn, a fifth seed, in the early game Saturday, and second-seed Michigan State meets third-seed Texas Tech in the nightcap. The winners then square off for the title on Monday. All games take place at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

At the 13 legal online sportsbooks in New Jersey, you can bet in any number of ways: spreads, moneylines, points totals, first-half breakdowns, second-half breakdowns, and player props, such as the random dart throw that is “Who will score the first basket?”

And of course, you can parlay or tease the two semifinal games together. Or you can take a plunge on the unofficial parlay that is picking a champion right now.

Odds to win it all

The only way to get plus money on the favorites, Virginia and Michigan State, is to back one of them to go 2-for-2. And if you believe in Texas Tech or Auburn, you can get serious bang for your buck on one of them winning twice more.

Here’s a look at the payout possibilities at a half-dozen of the New Jersey sportsbooks:

 DraftKingsFanDuelPointsBetFOX BetHard RockGolden Nugget
Virginia+140+125+130+120+130+125
Michigan State+195+190+200+170+175+150
Texas Tech+400+460+450+450+450+400
Auburn+700+800+700+700+700+600

The value of comparison shopping is on full display here. A few takeaways:

  • If you have a sports betting account at Golden Nugget and no place else, you’re doing it wrong. Nugget has the worst return on your money almost across the board.
  • DraftKings’ odds on favorite Virginia are the best in the business, while rival FanDuel can say the same about the two longshot teams. PointsBet should be your book of choice if you believe in Tom Izzo’s Spartans.
  • No, but seriously, why would anyone bet on any of these teams at Golden Nugget? GN’s price on Michigan State is almost the same as DK’s price on Virginia.

If you’d rather bet individual game spreads, the numbers are within a half-point at all the books — though sometimes a half-point makes all the difference. Virginia is either a 5½- or 6-point favorite over Auburn for the Tigers’ first trip to the Final Four, and fellow Final Four rookie Texas Tech is getting 2½ or 3 points against Michigan State.

As has been the case all tournament, PointsBet is offering -105 lines on both sides of either spread, while most other books charge a higher vig at -110.

No need for promo FOMO

The mobile sportsbooks aren’t offering as many special March Madness promotions as they were at the start of the tournament, but there are still a few offers to consider:

  • FanDuel Sportsbook has a new promotion specific to the Final Four: Place a pre-game spread bet of $25 or more on any of the three remaining games, and you get a $25 bonus if your bet wins. So by betting exactly $25, you’re turning -110 odds into +191 odds. Even PointsBet can’t compete with that price. (Needless to say, you can’t bet both sides of the same game.)
  • At DraftKings Sportsbook, they still have their “$50 Matched Bet Bonus,” which bettors are eligible for as long as they haven’t placed a spread bet on any NCAA tournament game yet. For your first such bet, DK will match your bet, up to $50, in the form of a free bet after the bet settles.
  • In addition to the -105 lines, PointsBet still has its “Make It Rain” promo for three-pointers in effect.
  • And then there’s a BetStars promo that, logically for the sports betting arm of PokerStars, has a poker tournament entry as the potential reward for wagering on basketball games. If you opt in and bet at least $500 on hoops by this Sunday, April 7, you’ll get a free ticket to enter Sunday’s $50k guaranteed “Final Big Game” poker tournament. The buy-in without a ticket is $50.

Photo by Shutterstock.com

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Eric Raskin

Eric is a veteran writer, editor, and podcaster in the sports and gaming industries. He was the editor-in-chief of the poker magazine All In for nearly a decade, is the author of the book The Moneymaker Effect, and has contributed to such outlets as ESPN.com, Grantland.com, and Playboy.

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