March Madness basketball betting begins this week

After the long regular season that began way back in November, and the conference regular-season races, and two weeks worth of conference tournaments, the real Madness of March arrives this week. Play begins in the 2013 NCAA basketball championship tournament with play-in games Tuesday and Wednesday, and by Sunday night the field of 68 teams will be cut down to 16.

Here's a quick peek at some of what's happening on the NCAA tournament betting boards this week.

This year's Big Dance opens Tuesday with a pair of what they call “first-round” games in Dayton. In the opener 19-16 North Carolina A&T and 15-20 Liberty meet for the right to play No. 1 seed Louisville, followed by 27-6 St. Mary's and 28-5 Middle Tennessee State meeting to decide who plays sixth-seeded Memphis.

On Wednesday 21-9 LaSalle, playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years, takes on 21-10 Boise State with the winner advancing to play fourth-seeded Kansas State. And 20-13 LIU-Brooklyn and 20-14 James Madison get together to decide who plays No. 1 seed Indiana.

In the early betting NC A&T was favored by a point and a half over Liberty; St. Mary's was favored by three points over MTSU; Long Island was favored by a point over JMU; and Boise State was favored by a point and a half over LaSalle.

The craziness really begins Thursday with 16 “second-round” games. In the West No. 8 seed Pittsburgh was an early five-point favorite over No. 9 seed Wichita State; and No. 6 seed Arizona was favored by five points over No. 11 seed Belmont.

In the East No. 6 seed Butler was chalked at -4 over No. 11 seed Bucknell; and No. 5 seed UNLV was favored by three points over No. 12 seed Cal.

And in the Midwest No. 4 seed St. Louis, champion of the Atlantic 10, was favored by nine points over No. 13 seed New Mexico State; No. 5 seed Oklahoma State was favored by three points over No. 12 seed Oregon; and No. 9 seed Missouri was favored by three points over No. 8 seed Colorado State.

On the NCAA tournament futures market Indiana, Duke and Louisville top the betting, all getting right around 6/1 to cut down the nets April 8 at the Georgia Dome. Florida and Kansas come next, both at around 8/1, followed by the likes of ACC champion Miami and Michigan at 10/1, Michigan State, Syracuse and Georgetown at 12/1, Big Ten champion Ohio State at 15/1, New Mexico and Wisconsin at 25/1, and North Carolina, North Carolina State and Kansas State at 40/1.




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