Betting underdogs open NCAA tournament red-hot

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USA Today Sports

If you listen carefully you can hear the sounds of millions of NCAA tournament brackets getting ripped up and thrown into the air. That’s because 10 games into this year’s March Madness, including the four play-in games, underdogs are a perfect 10-1 against the spread and 7-4 straight up.

“We are going to need the underdog majority of the time,” Nick Bogdanovich, US director of trading for William Hill, tells Covers. “We will see how the night games go but, knock on wood, it’s a big day for the house.”

Some of those games have been decided by a huge 3-pointer in the closing seconds, like Georgia State topping Baylor, while others have been surrounded by controversy, like UCLA’s win over SMU with a questionable goaltending call to finish the game.

The biggest decisions for sportsbooks so far have been Notre Dame failing to cover the 12-point spread in a 69-65 win against Northeastern, and Georgia State’s 57-56 stunner versus Baylor as a 9.5-point underdog. Heading into the night, bookmakers will be cheering for No. 16 Hampton (+34 versus Kentucky) and No. 9 LSU (+2) versus NC State.

“The night shift big one is LSU, we have a lot of money on NC State,” says Bogdanovich. “And we’re definitely going to need Hampton, a lot of money on Kentucky. Those are our only two major decisions.”

Even if the favorites cover in every remaining game on Thursday, underdogs will still be 10-11 against the spread in the NCAA tournament.

The remainder of the games for Thursday night are as follows:

(16) Lafayette Leopards vs. (1) Villanova Wildcats (-22.5)
(9) Purdue Boilermakers vs. (8) Cincinnati Bearcats (-2)
(13) Harvard Crimson vs. (4) North Carolina Tar Heels (-9.5)
(12) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. (5) Utah Ues (-7)
(9) LSU Tigers vs. NC State Wolfpack (-2)
(16) Hampton Pirates vs. (1) Kentucky Wildcats (-34)
(12) Wofford Terriers vs. (5) Arkansas Razorbacks (-7.5)
(13) Eastern Washington Eagles vs. (4) Georgeton Hoyas (-8)

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