Yesterday in our NCAA tournament worksheet, we outlined the current futures prices for the 2017 Big Dance and the percentage equivalents for each team. Today, we’re going to take things a step further.
Any bet on a team at its futures price is basically a “Yes” vote for that team to win the tourney. Chris Andrews, sports book director at the South Point, has made available “the other side of the coin.” You can now bet “No” if you DON’T think they’re going to win the tournament.
Quick example: Duke is currently 5/1 to win the NCAA’s. That’s your return if you want to bet the Blue Devils. But, if you HATE Duke’s chances to run the table after surviving four-games-in-four-days in the grueling ACC tournament, you can now bet -700 on “No.” In pure money terms, a $100 bet on Duke wins you $500 if they cut down the nets in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday, April 3. You can bet $700 to win $100 that they won’t win the tournament.
It’s clearly a lot more expensive to bet “no” than “yes” on any team, because the true odds are so naturally stacked against any individual side. It takes a special kind of mindset to attack these. But, value can be found if you believe the marketplace has mispriced the possibilities. Are you ready to pull $700 out of your pocket now to earn a profit of $100 if Duke gets knocked out? Are there any teams that are such absolute certain failures that no price could dissuade you?
We’ll run the full list of Yes/No prices currently available at the South Point in a moment. First, let’s talk about the fascinating dynamics of this particular Duke option. If you’ve been listening on Sirius/XM radio or watching the streaming broadcasts here at VSIN, you know that sports books have been pounded with Duke money of late. The South Point in particular has taken some big bets on the Blue Devils to go the distance. That’s why they’re priced like the #1 seed in the whole event even though they’re just a #2 seed in the East region (and would probably have been a #3 seed at best a week ago).
Many analytics approaches aren’t nearly as optimistic as the Nevada marketplace in terms of this particular team. Nate Silver’s 538 website only has Duke at 7% to win the tournament right now. The percentage equivalent of a 5/1 futures payout is 17%. Big difference.
South Point’s “No” price is -700
538’s “No” price equivalent (no vigorish) is around -1300
Different approaches are going to come up with different projections. Duke backers will point out that the team is at full strength line-up wise right now, is peaking at the right time, and just established a very high level of play in the toughest conference in the country. Duke faders know that it’s difficult to maintain that high a level of play for weeks on end, and that a potentially dangerous bracket has #1 overall seed Villanova as a likely hurdle in the Elite 8 round. Duke might have to take out three different #1 seeds to earn a “One Shining Moment” music video tribute.
A case can be made that Duke’s playing better right now than anyone. Yet, a case can also be made that -700 is still too short a price for “No” when you throw all the elite (and hot) teams into a hat before pulling out the winner.
Here’s a look at the South Point Yes/No props available as of Tuesday morning March 14…
-700 no, plus 500 yes: Duke, North Carolina
-900 no, plus 600 yes: Gonzaga
-1100 no, plus 700 yes: Villanova, Kansas
-1400 no, plus 800 yes: Arizona
-2000 no, plus 1000 yes: UCLA, Kentucky, Louisville
-3000 no, plus 1500 yes: Oregon, West Virginia, Florida
-5000 no, plus 2500 yes: Notre Dame
-6000 no, plus 3000 yes: Baylor, Florida State, Minnesota
-4000 no, plus 2000 yes: Purdue
-8000 no, plus 4000 yes: Butler, Virginia
-10000 no: plus 5000 yes: SMU, Iowa State
As fans and handicappers, it’s much easier to visualize a “No” scenario for any team entering the tournament. There are so many potential potholes even for the best teams. And, most contenders have at least one flaw that could take them down once the elite are squaring off against each other.
VSIN’s Matt Youmans has mentioned that he can’t see UCLA winning this tournament because of the Bruins’ soft defense. Do you agree? If you think the Bruins shot is close to ZERO, then risking $200 to win $10 or $2000 to win $100 might seem like a virtual ATM machine. Is it a smart risk in your view to bet that UCLA (who you may have just watched struggle with USC and lose to Arizona in the Pac 12 tourney) won’t suddenly get red hot?
Florida can’t beat Vanderbilt. They’re suddenly going to roll off SIX in a row against Dance caliber teams? Costs you $300 to make $10 on that sentiment (or anything in that same ratio). Butler couldn’t quite win it when Brad Stevens was coach. He’s with the Celtics now. $800 to win $10 on “no” for Butler might be better than letting that $800 sit in a checking account for three weeks.
All wagers come with risks. You gonna take a shot at some of these? Yes or no?