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 22
Abilene Christian, Ohio look to extend upset bug
After a crazy weekend in the NCAA tournament, the action continues on Monday when four double-digit seeds look to advance to the Sweet 16. One double-digit is already assured of a Sweet 16 appearance, as 11-seed UCLA takes on 14-seed Abilene Christian on Monday evening in Indianapolis. The Bruins are a 4.5-point favorite on the Vegas Consensus line. Already, three double-digit seeds — 15-seed Oral Roberts, 11-seed Syracuse, and 12-seed Oregon State — qualified for spots in the regional semifinals. Over the first four days of the tournament, underdogs have gone 28-15 against the spread, according to ESPN.com. A $100, 4-team parlay on four decisive underdogs Sunday paid an astounding $14,185.
- 8-seed Loyola-Chicago (+270) over Illinois
- 11-seed Syracuse (+160) over West Virginia
- 12-seed Oregon State (+230) over 4-seed Oklahoma State
- 15-seed Oral Roberts (+350) over 7-seed Florida
Among mid-majors on Monday, 13-seed Ohio will look to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2012 with a win over 5-seed Creighton in Indianapolis. Creighton is a 5.5-point favorite, while the total is 149. Meanwhile, Alabama, the SEC tournament and regular season champions, will face 10-seed Maryland on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indy. The Crimson Tide are 5.5-point favorites at DraftKings. The Pac-12 has opened the tournament with a 6-0 record through Sunday night. Besides UCLA, three other Pac-12 teams — USC, Oregon, and Colorado — can reach the Sweet 16 with wins on Monday. The Trojans are 1-point favorites over Kansas in a West Region second round matchup.
Last night, Abilene Christian forced 23 turnovers against Texas.
Tonight, Oral Roberts forced 20 turnovers against Florida.
These scrappy teams are bringing the defensive intensity required to win games. Not just fluke wins. Real, NCAA Tournament wins.
— Emma Houghton (@emma_houghton9) March 22, 2021
Tuesday, March 23
Tennessee hearing examines role of payday lenders in sports betting
Over the last several months, the activities of sportsbook operator Tennessee Action 24/7 have come under intense scrutiny after several well-publicized incidents. In January, Sports Handle published an exclusive story on the vendor application approval of Advance Financial, a Nashville-based lender of high risk “flex loans.” The high-risk loans carry annual interest rates of up to 279.5%, raising significant concerns among problem gaming experts on the ability of distressed customers to easily obtain loans for betting on sports.
Tina Hodges, who serves as CEO of Advance Financial, is also the president of Action 24/7, a Tennessee-based sportsbook. Last week, Action 24/7 became the first U.S. operator since the Supreme Court’s 2018 PASPA ruling to have its license suspended. During an emergency meeting March 19, the Tennessee Education Lottery’s board of directors suspended Action 24/7’s sports betting license indefinitely amid accusations of credit card fraud, money laundering, and illegal proxy betting. Hodges expressed disappointment with the ruling, while asserting that Action’s staff quickly spotted the suspicious activity and suspended the player accounts in question swiftly.
On Tuesday, a Tennessee House subcommittee will discuss HB 0824, a bill authored by Rep. Darren Jernigan. The bill prohibits a licensee that offers interactive sports wagering from allowing a person to place a bet at the same location where the person entered into a “flex loan plan, a title pledge agreement, a deferred presentment services agreement, or a check cashing transaction.” There is a separate bill in motion, HB1267, addressing which entities shall have regulatory authority for purposes of adopting rules and taking disciplinary action against a licensee. This one also up for committee discussion on Tuesday.
Top seeds UConn, Stanford heavy favorites in Women’s tourney
With a four-day break in the Men’s tournament, the focus will shift to the Women’s side with three top seeds in action on Tuesday. In San Antonio, 1-seed South Carolina will face 8-seed Oregon State in the opener before UConn, another one seed, takes on 8-seed Syracuse in the nightcap. Despite the absence of coach Geno Auriemma, the Lady Huskies cruised to a 102-59 win over High Point, beating a 41.5-point spread. UConn guard Paige Bueckers scored 24 in the victory, setting a school record for points in a tournament debut. The status of Auriemma for Tuesday’s game is unclear. Auriemma, the Hall of Fame coach, missed the win over High Point due to COVID-19 protocols. A third 1-seed, Stanford, will also take the court on Tuesday night, when the Lady Cardinal face 8-seed Oklahoma State. Stanford (+190) entered the tournament as the slight favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook.
2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Champion
- Stanford +180
- UConn +300
- Baylor +600
- South Carolina +1000
- Maryland +1100
- NC State +1300
- UCLA +3500
- Michigan +3500
- Gonzaga +5000
- Louisville +5000
- Arizona +5000
Thursday, March 25
Exclusive chat with Leonsis highlights SportTechie conference
As the intersection between cryptocurrencies and professional sports intensifies, top crypto advocates in sports continue to promote the synergies between the two. Earlier this year, the NBA formed a blockchain advisory group, a committee that features prominent owners such as Ted Leonsis, Mark Cuban, Steve Pagliuca, and Vivek Randive among others. Leonsis, who serves as CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, will discuss the outlook for the advisory committee during an exclusive chat at SportTechie’s State Of The Industry 2021 conference. There are strong indications that crypto assets will take on an increased presence in the U.S. sports betting ecosystem. Just this month, BLOK SPORTS, a decentralized social sports betting exchange and predictive gaming platform added former NFL All-Pros Marshawn Lynch and Andre Reed as stakeholders and members of its advisory board. The two-day conference also features appearances from NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier and NBA All-Star forward Chris Webber, as well as keynote panels with NASCAR President Steve Phelps and NBA Chief Fan Officer Danielle Lee.
Saturday, March 27
Sweet 16 begins with intriguing Baylor-Nova matchup
Despite all the upsets, there will be at least one chalky matchup in the Sweet 16 when 1-seed Baylor meets 5-seed Villanova in a South Region semifinal. Baylor opened as a 6.5-point favorite at DraftKings. Villanova, the 2016 and 2018 National Champions, struggled down the stretch following a season-ending injury to All-Big East guard Collin Gillespie. But the Wildcats have rebounded in the tournament, defeating their two opponents by an average of 16.5 points. Baylor, which has been ranked in the Top 5 for the entire season, advanced Sunday with a 76-63 win over Wisconsin.
Also on Saturday, Arkansas will face Oral Roberts in the other South Region semi. The Razorbacks opened as an 11-point favorite at DraftKings. Arkansas defeated Oral Roberts 87-76 in the regular season. Oral Roberts looks to become the first 15-seed to ever reach the Elite Eight. In 2013, Florida Gulf Coast lost as a 15-seed in the Sweet 16. In the Midwest Region, 2-seed Houston will take on 11-seed Syracuse after both teams survived close wins on Sunday. Houston opened as a 6.5-point favorite. Syracuse reached the Sweet 16 for the third time as a double-digit seed in the last 10 years.
Cool #MarchMadness history tonight.
With Oral Roberts' win, Max Abmas is only 5th nation's top scorer to reach Sweet 16 since 1985.
– 2021: Max Abmas, Oral Roberts
– 2011: Jimmer Fredette, BYU
– 2006: Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
– 1994: Glenn Robinson, Purdue
– 1990: Bo Kimble, LMU pic.twitter.com/AKywtgWqnF
— Jeff D Brackets (@JeffDLowe) March 22, 2021