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October 24, 2014

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College basketball:

Louisville seizes status as NCAA Tournament favorite in Las Vegas

Miami, Gonzaga among teams sports books rooting against this March

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Associated Press

Louisville’s Peyton Siva celebrates with teammates after an NCAA college basketball game against Syracuse at the Big East Conference men’s tournament Saturday, March 16, 2013, in New York. Louisville won 78-61.

The Rebel Room

Rebels get a rematch in NCAA Tournament

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The brackets are out and the Las Vegas Sun sports team is here to discuss UNLV's draw as the 5-seed in San Jose, Calif., and a rematch with Cal.

2013 Selection Sunday

Members of the UNLV men's basketball team, from left, Anthony Bennett, Savron Goodman, and Anthony Marshall, learn their selection while watching the NCAA Tournament's Selection Show at the Mendenhall Center Sunday, March 17, 2013. UNLV will play Golden Bears in its NCAA tournament opener on Thursday at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Launch slideshow »

Note: Full future odds available at the bottom of the page.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the parity among the elite in college basketball this season better than a brand-new team sitting atop betting boards in future odds to win the NCAA Tournament days before it begins.

Although Las Vegas sports books have rated Louisville highly all year, it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that the Cardinals became the favorite to win the title all over town. The LVH Superbook posted Louisville at 9-to-2 win the NCAA Tournament after Sunday’s selection show.

“There are always those flavors of the week that come throughout the season,” LVH Superbook Executive Director Jay Kornegay said. “They were the pick this week.”

Louisville captured the Big East Conference tournament at Madison Square Garden and stretched an against-the-spread winning streak to seven games last week. The Cardinals' rise coincided with a downturn for Las Vegas’ longest reigning favorites, Indiana, which exited the Big Ten tournament in the semifinals after getting upset by Wisconsin.

The Hoosiers are only 2-4 against the spread in their past six and 3-3 straight-up. They’re bumped up to 7-to-1 to win the tournament at the Superbook only four days after being 9-to-2.

The other two No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas and Gonzaga, are 10-to-1 and 12-to-1, respectively.

“Indiana has weakened and Gonzaga doesn’t have a lot of force behind them,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, William Hill sports books spokesman and veteran oddsmaker. “So if you had to narrow it down to one right now, it’s Louisville.”

It's the second time in the last five years that Louisville enters as the favorite under coach Rick Pitino's watch. The first time, in 2009, the Cardinals advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to Michigan State as 6.5-point favorites.

The Superbook has three teams right behind Louisville and Indiana tied for third lowest odds. Second-seeded Duke, second-seeded Miami and third-seeded Florida are 8-to-1.

“Duke and Florida, we really like those teams,” Kornegay said. “Duke and Florida are more our opinion as compared to Miami, which is all about money.”

The Superbook opened the Hurricanes at 200-to-1 to win the title before the season. Their price kept getting adjusted down with their success, but plenty of Miami believers jumped on board along the way.

At the LVH, Miami making a deep run is a worst-case scenario.

“We certainly have some liability tied to this Miami team,” Kornegay said. “This is a team I’d like to see out sooner rather than later. There’s always one or two out there, and Miami is that team this year. They could hurt us.”

Vaccaro said Miami wasn’t a scare team for William Hill. As far as which team he’s rooting against, Vaccaro would prefer to see Gonzaga and Michigan State knocked off early.

William Hill took several bets on the Bulldogs and Spartans at around 25-to-1 earlier in the season.

“Those two teams would be a loser, but you can cover it up because there’s just so much interest anymore,” Vaccaro said. “We write so much money on futures that we can maneuver to put ourselves in a good spot.”

Sports books agreed with the widespread sentiment that the Midwest Region — with Louisville as the 1 seed, Duke as the 2 and Michigan State as the 3 — boasted the toughest bracket. The Superbook even adjusted Louisville, who was 3-to-1 to start the day, upwards because of its draw.

Teams that went the opposite way and saw their odds improve to win the tournament included Kansas and Ohio State at 15-to-1. There were no drastic adjustments, though.

Las Vegas sports books, for the most part, thought this year's NCAA Tournament was selected and seeded appropriately.

“The committee did a very good job, one of the best they’ve ever done,” Vaccaro said. “None of the teams that didn’t make it had a real argument. The teams are getting closer and closer, and I think that makes the booking the games easier.”

Odds to win the NCAA Championship

  • Louisville — 9-to-2
  • Indiana — 7-to-1
  • Duke — 8-to-1
  • Florida — 8-to-1
  • Miami — 8-to-1
  • Kansas — 10-to-1
  • Gonzaga — 12-to-1
  • Ohio State — 15-to-1
  • Michigan State — 18-to-1
  • Georgetown — 18-to-1
  • Michigan — 18-to-1
  • Wisconsin — 25-to-1
  • Syracuse — 30-to-1
  • Saint Louis — 30-to-1
  • New Mexico — 30-to-1
  • Marquette — 40-to-1
  • Pittsburgh — 50-to-1
  • Arizona — 50-to-1
  • North Carolina — 50-to-1
  • VCU — 50-to-1
  • NC State — 60-to-1
  • Kansas State — 60-to-1
  • Missouri — 75-to-1
  • Oklahoma State — 100-to-1
  • Minnesota — 100-to-1
  • Notre Dame — 100-to-1
  • UNLV — 100-to-1
  • Memphis — 100-to-1
  • Creighton — 100-to-1
  • Butler — 100-to-1
  • UCLA — 100-to-1
  • Oregon — 100-to-1
  • Illinois — 200-to-1
  • Colorado — 300-to-1
  • Cincinnati — 300-to-1
  • San Diego State — 300-to-1
  • Wichita State — 300-to-1
  • California — 300-to-1
  • Temple — 500-to-1
  • Villanova — 500-to-1
  • Iowa State — 500-to-1
  • Ole Miss — 500-to-1
  • Colorado State — 500-to-1
  • Oklahoma — 500-to-1
  • Saint Mary's — 1000-to-1
  • Davidson — 1000-to-1
  • Belmont — 1000-to-1
  • La Salle — 1000-to-1
  • Boise State — 1000-to-1
  • Field — 150-to-1
  • Source: LVH Superbook

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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