Each Monday, our “What’s On Tap,” series will preview the week ahead in the world of sports betting. Come here for a summary of upcoming financial happenings, legislative and regulatory meetings, industry conferences, top games scheduled for the week, and much more. Also, check out our weekly review Get A Grip and Wide World of Gambling at US Bets for a look back at last week’s relevant news.
Monday, March 15
March Madness openers
After last year’s cancellation of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, sportsbooks nationwide anticipate considerable pent-up demand for the return of March Madness. The tournament will have a slightly different format and plenty of COVID rules this year, and all games will be played in a bubble Indiana. Savvy bettors can lock in their first-round picks early when top sportsbooks release their openers for the tournament. Given the competitive nature of the NCAA tournament, every half-point is critical when betting against the spread. Consequently, bettors can spot a favorable price on Monday before the line moves several points as tip-off nears. Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 50 upsets by a 12-seed over a team seeded fifth in a first-round bracket. Two years ago, three of the four teams seeded 12th prevailed in the Round of 64.
Odds on No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups at Circa Sports
- East: No. 5 Colorado (-4) No. 12 Georgetown
- West: No. 5 Creighton (-8) No. 12 UC Santa Barbara
- Midwest: No. 5 Tennessee (-9) No. 12 Oregon State
- South: No. 5 Villanova (-8) No. 12 Winthrop
To commemorate Derek Stevens' yearly tradition of betting $10k per game on the opening lines of the NCAA tournament, @CircaSports will be taking $10k app limits on NCAA Openers tomorrow. The shoe is officially on the other foot. Good Luck. https://t.co/99EK8lISnS
— Matthew Metcalf (@MMpact) March 13, 2021
New York legislature releases one-house budgets
Staring at an April 1 deadline to hammer out the state’s 2022 fiscal-year budget, New York political leaders are set to begin negotiations on the status of mobile sports betting in the upcoming year’s budget. As expected, both the New York State Senate and State Assembly included line items on the regulation of mobile sports betting in their respective one-house budgets, released Monday. The most contentious negotiating item between the legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration surrounds Cuomo’s proposal to run mobile sports betting through a public-private partnership. The lottery-based model could limit online sports wagering to one or two operators, while a Senate bill calls for the issuance of up to 14 mobile sports betting licenses, more commonly known as “skins.”
NYS Senate one-house budget bills are out today. Joins Assembly on big tax hikes on wealthy, legalization of mobile sports betting, big school $ boost. Houses reject Cuomo plan to issue request for info to start process for final 3 commercial casino licenses (to be in NYC area).
— Tom Precious (@TomPreciousALB) March 14, 2021
Tuesday, March 16
Team COVID-19 deadlines for March Madness
Approximately 48 hours after the brackets are released on Sunday night, participating teams face a 6 p.m. ET deadline for withdrawing from the NCAA tournament. The NCAA has two sets of protocols for replacing teams that pull out due to COVID-19. If one of the 31 conference champions withdraws before the deadline, the automatic qualifier will be replaced by a school designated by its conference ahead of the tournament. The protocols differ for the other 37 at-large teams that complete the 68-team field. If an at-large team is forced to withdraw, the school will be replaced by the highest-seeded team that went unselected during the initial release of the brackets. For college basketball futures, be sure to check the house rules at the sportsbook where you place a wager. Top-ranked Gonzaga is the first team to enter the tournament undefeated since Kentucky in 2015. The Bulldogs are seeking to become the first undefeated team to win a national championship since 1976 when Indiana completed the feat.
🏆 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐨𝐝𝐝𝐬 🏆
Who are you taking to win it all?
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) March 14, 2021
Wednesday, March 17
Winston, Smith Schuster remain unsigned as NFL league year begins
The 2021 NFL free-agency period begins Wednesday when the new league year commences at 4 p.m. ET. Following Drew Brees’ retirement on Sunday, quarterback Jameis Winston is largely expected to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints. Still, Winston will hit the market as the top-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2021. While five prominent players — Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams, Tampa Bay Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin, Washington Football Team offensive guard Brandon Scherff, Chicago Bears Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson, and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons — have already been given their team’s franchise tag, a bevy of Pro Bowlers are set to enter the open market. There is a deep pool at edge rusher with Yannick Ngakoue (Baltimore Ravens), Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers), Carl Lawson (Cincinnati Bengals), and Melvin Ingram (Los Angeles Chargers) all becoming free agents. Bucs edge rusher Shaq Barrett avoided free agency on Monday when he signed a four-year, $72 million deal, according to ESPN. Three prominent wide receivers, Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions), Corey Davis (Tennessee Titans), and JuJu Smith Schuster (Steelers) will also test the free-agency waters.
— NBC Sports EDGE Betting (@NBCSportsBet) March 11, 2021
Thursday, March 18
Michigan State-UCLA matchup highlights the First Four
When the NCAA tournament opens on Thursday night, two of the most storied programs in college basketball will face off in the First Four. UCLA, an 11-time national champion, earned a spot despite limping into the tournament on a four-game losing streak. The Bruins will face a Michigan State team led by Tom Izzo, a coach who has made eight Final Fours over the last 25 years. Michigan State opened as a 1.5-point favorite at PointsBet. The winner of the Michigan State-UCLA tilt will face BYU in the Round of 64. There are three other games in Thursday’s First Four: the tournament kicks off in Bloomington, where No. 16 seed Texas Southern faces fellow 16 seed Mount St. Mary’s in an East Region matchup. It will be followed by a matchup in West Lafayette, where No. 11 seed Wichita State takes on another 11 seed in Drake. Wichita State is a 2-point favorite, while the total is 139.5. Drake (25-4) opened the season 18-0, but has struggled of late with injuries. Also in Bloomington, Appalachian State will face Norfolk State in the other meeting on Thursday between 16 seeds. Appalachian State is a 3-point favorite at William Hill U.S.
America’s Cup finale
Luna Rosa Challenge, an Italian yacht, can become the first team from Italy in the history of the America’s Cup to capture the prestigious event. As of March 15, Luna Rosa remained tied at 3 against Emirates Team New Zealand in the Best-Of-13 series. At Smarkets, the New Zealand team is a decisive favorite to win the 36th America’s Cup, with a probability of 60.6% to emerge victorious. Luna Rosa has odds of +300 at Smarkets to pull off the upset. The Cup finals have been marred by multiple delays stemming from COVID-19 and inclement weather. Though Italian yachts have finished as runner-up twice over the last eight renditions of the Cup, a team from the nation has never won the event.
Saturday, March 20
Virginia’s NCAA title defense hampered by COVID-19 concerns
Virginia, the 2019 national champion, is scheduled to make its tournament debut on Saturday night against Mid-Atlantic Conference champion Ohio. The Cavaliers pulled out of the ACC tournament ahead of a semifinal matchup against Georgia Tech when the team reported a positive COVID-19 test. On Sunday night, Virginia coach Tony Bennett confirmed that his team does not plan to arrive in Indianapolis until March 19, at the earliest. Virginia opened as 8.5-point favorites over Ohio in Bloomington. The Bobcats have moneyline odds of +350 to win straight up. Another intriguing matchup on Saturday pits No. 8 seed LSU against No. 9 seed St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies captured the Atlantic 10 finals on Sunday with a win over VCU, while LSU suffered a one-point loss to Alabama in the SEC finals. LSU opened as a slight 1.5-point favorite at FanDuel. Two No. 1 seeds, Gonzaga and Michigan, are scheduled to play on Saturday, as well as a pair of No. 2 seeds — Alabama and Iowa. All four are double-digit favorites.
Tony Bennett announces Virginia will not be traveling to Indianapolis until FRIDAY.
Keep in mind the team will not be able to even practice until Thursday, when quarantine ends.
Also have to wait and hope for no more positive tests.
This is going to be very interesting.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 15, 2021
Sunday, March 21
Potential Baylor-Carolina matchup tops Sunday’s NCAA tourney slate
With a 22-2 record, Baylor received the No. 2 overall seed in the Field of 68. But if North Carolina defeats Wisconsin on Friday night, the Bears could face a challenging matchup in Sunday’s Round of 32. The Tar Heels front court features four forwards 6-foot-10 or taller, including forward Armando Bacot, the team’s leading scorer. While Baylor is adept at forcing turnovers, the Bears rank 288th in Division I in defensive rebounding percentage. If North Carolina can place an emphasis on taking care of the ball, the Tar Heels appear to have a decided advantage on the boards. North Carolina has odds of 12/1 at FanDuel to make the Final Four. Another bet at FanDuel allows customers to wager on whether Baylor will make the Sweet 16. The Bears currently have odds of -325 to win their first two games, providing a strong indication that North Carolina will be a heavy underdog in a possible matchup.