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Sharp, public bettors on same side before Monday’s NCAA title game

Connecticut has been a cash machine for NCAA Tournament bettors the last two years.

The Huskies have won 11 straight games by 13 points or more while going 11-0 against the spread.

Sharp bettors backed Connecticut to improve to 12-0 ATS when it opened as a 6-point favorite over Purdue in Monday’s national championship game. The betting public also is all over the Huskies, who were up to consensus 6½-point favorites Sunday night to win their second straight national title.

Connecticut pulled away from Alabama in the Final Four on Saturday en route to an 86-72 victory as a 10½-point favorite. Purdue improved to 5-0 ATS in the tournament in its 63-50 victory over North Carolina State as a 9½-point favorite in the other national semifinal.

“The market’s moved up since the opener and I understand why,” Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said. “I thought Alabama played about as well as they possibly could’ve, and they still couldn’t even cover the spread.

“We know the public’s going to bet UConn. Every time you bet UConn, you win, so why would people stop.”

The SuperBook will actually be rooting for the Huskies. It’s on the hook for six figures if Purdue wins the national championship the year after it lost to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round.

“We have a bad future position on Purdue. We win a good amount on UConn,” Murray said. “We really would’ve been in a lot of trouble if Alabama had won (Saturday).”

The early money and ticket counts favored Connecticut at Station Casinos.

“It’s hard to go against a team that’s been so dominant for the last two years,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “Bettors have backed UConn in every game. My guess is we’ll need Purdue when this tips off.”

The total has dipped to 145½ at the SuperBook from an opener of 148½. Connecticut is -280 on the money line and Purdue is +240.

The showdown of No. 1 seeds also will feature a matchup of 7-footers in Boilermakers 7-foot-4-inch center Zach Edey and Huskies 7-2 center Donovan Clingan.

“It’s a great matchup of two No. 1s who have kind of been on a collision course for almost two years and two big men on each side,” Esposito said. “It’s definitely a heavyweight bout, no question about it. It’s going to be fun.”

Pro handicapper Paul Stone won the Review-Journal March Madness Challenge with a 12-5 ATS record. He selected Connecticut as his national champion tiebreaker.

“I still like Connecticut to win the national championship,” said Stone, who is based in Texas. “But Purdue is the one team that matches up favorably with the Huskies. If Zach Edey gets the best of Donovan Clingan in their matchup, I think the Boilermakers have the supporting cast to challenge the Huskies.

“I like Purdue and the 6½ points, but believe UConn wins outright in a close, hard-fought game.”

Stone (@Paulstonesports) noted Purdue has thrived in recent years as the betting underdog. The Boilermakers have gone 6-2 ATS in that role the last three seasons. Purdue was an underdog twice this season. It defeated Arizona 92-84 on a neutral floor in December as 2-point underdogs and later upset Illinois 77-71 on the road in March getting 2½ points.

Circa Sports posted a prop March 12 on whether Purdue or Connecticut would win the national title. Yes opened at +260 and bettors who wagered on that already are winners. No opened as the -330 favorite.

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy placed a $600,000 wager March 20 at DraftKings Sportsbook to win $2.16 million on Connecticut to win the national title at +360.

“I have made a large bet. I really don’t think there is anybody who can play with UConn,” Portnoy posted on X above an image of the bet slip. “Like +360 is not great odds but at the same time great odds. Yes I am worried that everybody is picking them.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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