March Madness Betting Recap, First Round

Mercer and Harvard made sportsbook managers smile while Baylor and Florida made them frown in the first week of March Madness.

Mercer’s upset of No. 3 Duke was a huge win for sportsbooks such as Bovada. Ditto the ‘meaningless’ late baskets by Harvard, which allowed them to cover an 8.5-point spread against Michigan State.

“We had a huge loss the Baylor spread over Creighton, but also on the moneyline as there was lots of action on the Bears,” said Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager of Bovada.

And with 16 teams remaining, futures bets don’t amount to a huge exposure for sportsbooks, although Florida is still the choice of many future tickets. The best result for Bovada would be for Tennessee to go all the way from the play-in game 11 seed.

Lower seeds edged out a 17-13-2 ATS profit from a 9-23 SU record (in the Round of 64 matchups, excluding the play-in games). Once again, the 12 seeds were the big troublemakers for bracket pickers and chalk bettors as 12s went 3-1 SU and 3-0-1 ATS, just missing the first ever sweep of 5 seeds when Saint Louis rallied to beat NC State in OT.

Asked if there were any worries about Duke and Kansas getting bounced and seeing a negative impact on betting, Bradley said: “This tourney is so big, it really makes no difference who is in at this point, everyone will still take a huge volume of wagers, it's just the way it is and March Madness is so popular.”

Three of four No. 1 seeds remain after Wichita State lost to Kentucky on Sunday. Florida, Virginia, and Arizona are all favored in the Sweet 16.

See the latest Sweet 16 odds, along with Sweet 16 betting trends for every game.

ADVERTISEMENT: Bet on Sweet 16 action and pocket up to 50% in bonuses when you check out Bovada.

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