Illinois jumps Michigan in NCAA tourney bets

Illinois was seeded below Michigan before winning the Big Ten tournament title and the Illini are carrying that momentum into the NCAA Tournament in the eyes of bettors.

Gonzaga remains the heavy favorite, but Illinois is now the second-most backed team to win the title at several sportsbooks.

The top-ranked and undefeated Bulldogs are +205 favorites to win the title at BetRivers and DraftKings, and are being backed by 24 percent of the handle at both sportsbooks. Gonzaga is the overwhelming outright winner favorite with 37 percent of the total bets at BetRivers, but holds only a narrow edge with 17 percent at DraftKings.

Baylor (+500) has the second lowest odds to win the title at both books, and the Bears are being backed by 8 percent of the handle at BetRivers and 5 percent at DraftKings.

Giorgi Bezhanishvili
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Illinois is being backed by 13 percent of the handle and 15 percent of the bets at BetRivers, which is offering the Illini at +700. They were outside of the top 10 in most wagered-on NCAA title futures bets at the sportsbook before the start of conference tournaments.

Illinois has event shorter title odds at +600 by DraftKings, but still has the second-highest backing at 18 percent of the handle and 15 percent of the total bets.

Michigan Getting More Love At PointsBet

Michigan has received more action at PointsBet. The Wolverines are being offered at +825, and the 12.86 percent of the handle and 10.88 percent of the bets backing Michigan is second only to Gonzaga (24.91 percent and 14.59 percent at +210).

The Wolverines are +800 at the other two books and are being backed by 10 percent of the handle at DraftKings and 8 percent at BetRivers.

The book said its biggest current liability in first-round matches is between No. 8 North Carolina and No. 9 Wisconsin. The Tar Heels are a 1.5-point favorite and are being backed by more money than any other team in the first round.

Meanwhile, 13th-seeded Ohio is backed by the largest percentage of spread handle (93 percent) and spread bets (86 percent) of any first-round game as a 7.5-point underdog against No. 4 Virginia.

Team, Odds (Handle%/Bet%) – BetRivers

  • #1 Gonzaga +205 (24%/37%)
  • #1 Baylor +500 (8%/10%)
  • #1 Illinois +700 (13%/15%)
  • #1 Michigan +800 (8%/7%)
  • #2 Iowa +1700 (5.5%/4%)
  • #2 Houston +2000 (5%/4.5%)
  • #2 Alabama +2000 (5%/4%)
  • #2 Ohio State +2000 (4%/3%)
  • #4 Oklahoma State +2700 (4%/3%)
  • #3 Texas +3300 (3%/2%)

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)