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Betting on Basketball

March Madness is always popular among gamblers, fans.

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Betting on Basketball

Junior Andrew Meyers holds up his March Madness bracket. He picked Gonzaga to win it all.

Junior Andrew Meyers holds up his March Madness bracket. He picked Gonzaga to win it all.

Jones Reavis

Junior Andrew Meyers holds up his March Madness bracket. He picked Gonzaga to win it all.

Jones Reavis

Jones Reavis

Junior Andrew Meyers holds up his March Madness bracket. He picked Gonzaga to win it all.

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March Madness is one of the highest anticipated and unpredictable sporting events every year.

This year, 17.2 million brackets were filled out for March Madness, but after the first day only .25% were still perfect. Every year 64 of the top college men’s basketball teams compete to take home the National Championship.  

This year’s Tournament was as popular as ever, but one major reason for the popularity of March Madness is the gambling surrounding it. In Las Vegas alone, over $8 billion was bet on the Tournament, and much more can be added to this when you include all the office brackets and illegal gambling going on.

This year’s tournament actually brought in less betting money than 2018. In 2018 a total of $9.5 billion was bet at Vegas. This year Virginia had a -129 to 106 over-under lead over Texas Tech to win the title, and was a 1.5 point favorite, according to sportsbooks. This means a couple of things: firstly it means that it was expected to be a very close game, with Virginia winning by a margin of 2 points. It also meant sport betters were expecting a low scoring game.  Texas Tech was definitely not a favorite to even make the Final Four, let alone get into the Title Game. The odds for Texas Tech winning the title was 200-1, at the beginning of March Madness. However, Texas Tech ended up covering the point spread with a 85-77 loss to the Cavaliers.

Besides money, many people fill out a bracket just to compete with their friends to see who gets more rounds correct. In March Madness history, no one has ever filled out a Perfect Bracket. This year someone lasted 50 games until Purdue’s loss to Tennessee in the Sweet 16.   

Junior Luke Davis filled out a bracket this year. He had three of his four Final Four teams correct, but he only one of his final teams correct. Davis correctly predicted Virginia playing in the finals but he had them playing Gonzaga, not Texas Tech. Davis said he enjoys the competition with his friends, but also the fun trying to predict the games.

“Making a bracket with my friends brings another element to March Madness. It makes it more interactive for the fans,” he said.

March Madness is not only lucrative for the people who bet on the teams. The NCAA brings in over $1 billion in endorsement money and ticket sales. Just by making the Tournament a school brings in $1.67 million for its conference.

Junior Derek Becker said he doesn’t think it’s fair that the schools and NCAA makes so much money, but the players themselves play for free.

“I don’t really like how the NCAA makes so much money off the athletes, while the athletes make virtually nothing,” he said.

Besides basketball, gambling is popular all over the United States. It is estimated by the American Gaming Association that gambling is a $240 billion industry.

On May 14, 2018 the Supreme Court legalized sports betting across the United States, leaving it up to the individual states to decide whether they would allow it. There are 10 states which allow sports betting–currently Missouri is not one of those states.

Becker said he would definitely gamble if Missouri allowed sports betting.

“I never really liked betting but I think I’d be good at it because I watch a lot of basketball and know who’s good,” he said.

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Betting on Basketball