Before the Final Four, Virginia was listed as a 3-point favorite over Texas Tech at Las Vegas sportsbooks in a lookahead line on Monday’s national title game.
But that line reopened at 1 after the Cavaliers barely escaped with a 63-62 victory over Auburn on Saturday and the Red Raiders were impressive in their 61-51 win over Michigan State.
The total opened at 120, which is believed to be a record low for an NCAA championship game, and the number quickly dipped as low as 117½ for Monday’s matchup of two of the nation’s top defensive teams.
“If you go around the streets now, you’d get 80 percent of people tell you Texas Tech and the under,” Westgate sportsbook manager Ed Salmons said Sunday. “Valuewise, this spread should be higher. But it’s not, because everybody knows everybody wants to bet on Texas Tech and the under.
“There’s zero value on Texas Tech and the under. The only way to bet this game is Virginia and the over. But I’m probably the only person in the world saying that. That’s where all the line value is.”
Salmons set the total for a regular-season game between the teams at 123.
“You have to bet the over or don’t bet. If you bet under, numbers mean nothing to you and you just want to gamble,” Salmons said. “It could wind up 42-40 but there’s zero value in betting the under.”
Virginia pulled out its controversial win over Auburn when Kyle Guy was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 0.6 seconds left and made all three free throws. It also benefited from a no-call on a double-dribble by Ty Jerome with four seconds left.
The Cavaliers blew a 10-point lead in the final five minutes to burn bettors who backed them as 6-point favorites. But Virginia money line bettors cashed their tickets, including an MGM Resorts gambler who wagered $96,000 to win $38,400 on the Cavaliers (-250).
“We took quite a few five-figure bets on the Virginia money line,” The Mirage sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback said. “Those people got very lucky.”
An MGM bettor who wagered $105,000 on the Texas Tech-Michigan State second half over wasn’t so fortunate. The total was 69 and landed on 68 after Jarrett Culver missed one of two free throws with 28 seconds left and Cassius Winston missed a 3-pointer with 15 seconds to go.
An MGM bettor placed a $165,000 wager to win $150,000 on Virginia minus 1 over Texas Tech to push the line to 1½. And CG Technology sportsbook risk manager Tony DiTommaso said sharp bettors took the Cavaliers as 1-point favorites.
Salmons said perception is the main reason the line dipped from 3 to 1 following the national semifinals.
“Virginia is just not a sexy team. I guess it’s because Texas Tech looks better at what they’re doing than Virginia does,” he said. “But Virginia’s pedigree all year is much better than Texas Tech.”
The bettor who placed a $1,500 wager to win $300,000 on Texas Tech at the Westgate at 200-1 odds in November to win the national title didn’t sell his ticket on PropSwap, where he had it on sale for $65,000.
But another bettor sold an $800 bet to win $100,000 on the Red Raiders for $20,250 before Saturday’s game. The wager was placed at 125-1 odds in December at the William Hill sportsbook at the Plaza.
Fitz leans to Texas Tech
Handicapper Doug Fitz went 2-0 ATS Saturday to run his Review-Journal record to 13-6 ATS (68.4 percent) in the tournament. Fitz, who gives away all of his picks for free at Systemplays.com, leans to Texas Tech, which is riding a 13-2 ATS streak. Virginia is on a 3-5 spread slide.
“Texas Tech power rates one point better than Virginia,” he said. “Virginia has led a very charmed existence through this run and I think it comes to an end. They’re pretty evenly matched. But when it’s all said and done, I think Texas Tech is a little bit better.”
Last Man Standing
There are five entries remaining from a field of 2,942 in Station Casinos’ Last Man Standing contest. The winner takes all of the $59,425 prize pool. The national champion pick is the tiebreaker.