Setting The Super Bowl 55 Odds For Brady Versus Mahomes Showdown

Tom Brady and Tampa Bay are hosting the Super Bowl, but NJ online sportsbooks have Patrick Mahomes and defending champion Kansas City as the early favorites.

Super Bowl 55 is on the board for New Jersey online sports bettors, dripping with intrigue for the underdog Tampa Bay Buccaneers and favored Kansas City Chiefs.

William Hill sent out a press release during Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game announcing a Super Bowl betting line of Kansas City -3 and the over-under of 57, which moved early to 56.5.  Other NJ online sportsbooks followed soon after, giving bettors some separation to handicap with.

FanDuel Sportsbook opened its over-under of 57.5 and DraftKings had the line at Kansas City-3.5. Ahh, some line-shopping already. And there will be more to come over the next two weeks.

Here is some of the compelling overview for the big game.

William Hill + notable future bets

Some William Hill customers are on the brink of being awarded for having some major foresight. Even though these wagers were not placed in the Garden State, these bets provide a small sampling of what’s likely to come.

William Hill reported a $40,000 wager made on Jan. 2, with the Bucs at +1200, to win the Super Bowl. That’s a gutsy leap, as the Bucs had to win three road contests and beat the N0. 1 and NO. 2 seeds. The bet would return $480,000.

Another wager was made on Jan. 1 for $115,000 on the Chiefs at +150. It would net $172,500.

How about this one from last June? A bettor put $7,500 on the Bucs and it would net $112,500.

Most of the NJ online sportsbooks report the Bucs as their biggest Super Bowl liability. When Tom Brady left New England for Tampa Bay in March, books took money on Tampa Bay from 50-1 all the way down to 14-1.

Tampa Bay gets wagering love in each game too. FanDuel reported that it paid out more than $1.8 million Sunday as part of an odds boost featuring Mike Evans to score the first TD at +470 with a max bet of $50.

Super Bowl 55: Closer look at Chiefs vs. Bucs

The Bucs will be the first team to play on its home field in a Super Bowl.  Ironically, it’s Tampa Bay’s first home game of the postseason. The Bucs advanced to the Big Game by winning at Washington, at New Orleans and at Green Bay. And now they get to enjoy a home-field Super Bowl.

Kansas City, which bludgeoned a game Buffalo Bills team in the AFC conference final, tries to become the first Super Bowl champion to repeat since the New England Patriots did it in the 2005 game. And that victory canoe against  the Philadelphia Eagles.

Who quarterbacked the last team to do it? Brady, who goes for the Bucs in his record 10th Super Bowl. He has six Super Bowl rings.

Brady and Patrick Mahomes are the last two quarterbacks to win the Big Game. This is a Super Bowl matchup that has never happened before. Brady earned it for the Patriots two years ago, Mahomes won for the Chiefs last year.

Call it the old guard versus the new guard, with 25-year-old Mahomes battling the 43-year-old Brady

Kansas City edged Tampa Bay on this field, 27-24 in late November. It’s the last time the Bucs have lost. They have won seven straight, including the playoffs.

Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, now running the show in Kansas City, faces his one-time defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who is Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator.

Both teams showed championship pedigree to punch their respective Super Bowl tickets.

Chiefs looking for second straight Super Bowl

Mahomes made the big plays superstars are expected to in the win over Buffalo.

Perhaps his best two came back-to-back.

With Kansas City leading 14-9 in the second quarter, he was trapped in the backfield on an important possession.  However, Mahomes avoided what looked like a certain sack, he faked the defender out and completed a long pass.

And the same thing happened one play later.

Two would-be sacks had turned into 44 Kansas City yards.  Instead of punting, the Chiefs scored a touchdown. They went up 21-9 and never looked back.

The Bills played well in the championship game, but faltered inside the Kansas City 10-yard line when they were still in the game.

The Bill were stopped twice, late in the second quarter and midway through the third period, settling for field goals.

And although Bills quarterback Josh Allen played well, he took a pair of  huge sacks. In each case, he would have saved chunks of yards by throwing the ball away.

Uniform changed, but Brady does it again

In Tampa’s 31-26 triumph over the Green Bay Packers, the Bucs were one big play ahead of the Packers the entire game. Yes, the Tampa Bay defense sacked Aaron Rodgers five times and played well.  However,  this game was decided on third-down performance. The Bucs made the big plays, the Packers did not.

Green Bay trailed literally every time its offense took the field. They never even had the ball with the game tied, even though it dominated the time of possession (34:37 to 25:23).

The Packers defense could never get off the field when it had to.

Three big second-quarter developments and an early third-quarter turnover decided the game.

With the score tied 7-7, Tampa Bay had third and long and Brady hoisted a bomb. One defender was ready to knock it away. But Chris Godwin leaped up and took it for a 52-yard gain.  One play later, the deflated Packer defense could not halt Leonard Fournette. They had stopped him in the backfield, but he bounced off and rumbled for a 20-yard score.

In two plays, Green Bay had gone from a likely defensive stop to a 14-7 deficit.

Green Bay could not reach the end zone on the following possession after getting inside the Tampa Bay 10.

And it’s hard to forget about the first backbreaker. What could Green Bay have been thinking about on the last play of the first half?

Trailing 14-10, the Packers allowed a 39-yard  scoring  from Brady to Scotty Miller on the final play.  Tampa Bay had no timeouts. No place to go but the sidelines.

Call it an inexplicable defensive lapse.

When it happened to the New York Jets against the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this season, the Jets fired their defensive coordinator. This is on the same level.

And then came the Green Bay turnover to start the second half. That led to another Tampa Bay touchdown and a 28-10 lead.

The Packers clawed back, but missed a two-point conversion on a dropped ball after coming within 28-23.

Trailing 31-23 later, Rodgers passed up a possible open run to the end zone and fired an incomplete pass. The Packers kicked a field goal and never got the ball back.

Green Bay was for a pass interference call on the final Tampa Bay possession. Prior to the penalty,  the referees had let pass-interference infractions go all day.The pass looked uncatchable and the flag came in quite late, essentially closing out the game.

Otherwise, the Packers would have gotten the ball back, with timeouts.

All of that said, Brady was masterful for Tampa Bay on third-down passes, even after the Packers got back into the game.

And now it’s Brady-Mahomes. Let the Super Bowl 55 excitement begin.

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps




Football Five: NFL Playoff Field Down To Chiefs And Three Strong Contenders

The Packers, Buccaneers, Chiefs,  and Bills head into NFL Conference Championship weekend riding hot streaks, but only two will advance to Super Biowl 55.

There’s hot. There’s sizzlin’. And then there’s the equator, like performance of the NFL’s Final Four class.

The Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs,  and Buffalo Bills have amassed an enviable, perhaps unprecedented pre-championship winning streak.

Discounting Kansas City’s resting of its regulars in Week 17, the conference championship aspirants have won an incredible 32 straight games.

Thirty-two. That’s the equivalent of two undefeated seasons. No wonder all the major sportsbooks have both games in the vicinity of a field-goal difference.

The teams are that good.

This week’s Football Five takes is a closer look at the two games from a NJ sports betting perspective.

Packers  remains a slight favorite over Bucs

Kansas City holds a tenuous edge over Buffalo. The health of Patrick Mahomes keeps that gambling line in a holding pattern. The Chiefs starting quarterback was knocked out of last Sunday’s division-round victory over the Cleveland Browns.

However, gamblers love the Bucs and Brady.

“I could tell you the money was going to be on the Bucs even before they played the Washington Football Team and I could say the same thing before the game against New Orleans,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJ Gambling Sites.

“Last week we had a ton of money on the Bucs moneyline and it kept pouring in, even on game day. We have been getting a lot of Bucs money ever since Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay (back in March).”

The Tampa Bay action was so heated that Draft Kings took a bit of a hit from the New Orleans result.

“This week, I think Green Bay is going to be bet pretty well,” said Avello. “Lay the Packers with the points and take a shot with the Bucs on the moneyline, I think that how this game will be played.”

The Kansas City shuffle

Avello expects significant late money to come in on the Chiefs and Bills because of the Mahomes situation.

If Mahomes is considered fully capable, the prevailing wisdom at mid-week, the Kansas City line could move as high as -4, Avello believes. If Mahomes can’t play, Buffalo may be -4. That’s evidence of the eight-point swing we have previously referred to regarding Mahomes’ perceived value to the line.

Buffalo bettors may toss in a few bucks at this line on the hope Mahames would later be ruled out. They would be giving themselves roughly a touchdown if Mahomes sat.

But they can’t go too heavy. If Mahomes does play, the Bills bettors would gain a better line later, Avello asserts.

“Nobody is whaling in yet,” he said. “If you come in with a large amount of money now, it’s totally a guess. “

It’s important to note the handicapping variable surrounding Mahomes’ status. He ran off the field after being injured and DraftKings posted a line for Buffalo-Kansas City on Sunday night. If there was concern that he could not play, the game would have been taken off the board.

That indicates the expectation that Mahomes will go, but he must clear several protocols required by the NFL.

“If I had to say right now whether he goes or whether he can’t, I believe he will play,” Avello said.

That is the consensus throughout the sports-betting community.

Watch that line, and rumors. Anything indicating uncertainty for Mahomes could be enough to change it.

Kansas City bettors provided enough money to create an early line move. A couple of hours after we spoke with Avello, the Kansas City line went from Kansas City -2.5 to -3 at DraftKings, evidence of confidence that Mahomes will start.

William Hill shakers and movers

Here are the mid-week numbers.

Green Bay is a 3-point favorite (-125) at William Hill, with the total sitting at 51.

The Packers are -175 on the moneyline, whereas the Buccaneers are +155 to take the contest outright. Green Bay opened as a 3.5-point favorite and went up to -4 before dropping down to its current number.

The total in this one has had some movement, too, as it dropped from 52 to 51. One bettor put down $11,000 on Buccaneers at Packers under 51.5 (-110) for a total potential payout of $21,000, which is the largest 2021 Conference Championship wager taken thus far at William Hill.

A closer look  at Chiefs-Bills showdown

This is the third straight year that Arrowhead Stadium has been the home of the AFC Conference Championship. The host Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots two years ago and surged back from an early deficit to topple the Tennessee Titans last year, earning their trip to the Super Bowl.

On the other side, third-year signal-caller Josh Allen has led the Bills to their first Conference Championship appearance since 1994.

The Chiefs are 3-point favorites (-110) at William Hill, and the total has settled at 53. The defending Super Bowl champions are -145 chalk on the moneyline and the Bills are priced at +125,

Kansas City was originally listed as a 3.5-point favorite when William Hill first listed AFC Conference Championship odds this past Sunday. The total has jumped two points from the opener, as it went from 51.5 all the way up to 55 before dropping back down to 53.

Checking out the NFL  early bird value

If you’re looking to get a head start on the Super Bowl odds, William Hill also has moneyline matchups for the Big Game in New Jersey.

The Chiefs are +350 against the Packers and +550 over the Bucs.

The Packers are +400 over the Chiefs and +600 over the Bills.

The Bucs are +750 over the Chiefs and +950 over the Bills.

The Bills are +900 over the Bucs and +550 against the Packers.

These high odds are profitable to bet on early, before official matchups are established.

A few weeks back, for example, Buffalo was +2000 to defeat the Packers in the Super Bowl.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

NFL Playoff Odds Boosts: Looking at the Brady Versus Smith Showdown

NFL Wild Card Weekend means there will be six, not four, games, and NJ sports betting customers have a full menu of boosts, props and promos.

There are six NFL wild card playoff games this weekend. Many New Jersey sports bettors have already found their edge — or lack of one — regarding the teams and players.

It’s a smaller schedule than the regular season and will push more NJ online sportsbook customers in the direction of boosts, props and promos.

Let’s observe the prolific betting landscape.

Fox Bet boosting Nick Chubb

Can Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns rush for more than 100 yards and score a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers? Fox Bet has boosted it to an eye-opening +400, up from +333. Chubb is certainly capable, and the Browns are a good rushing team.

Chubb accomplished this feat five times during the regular season. The latest was last week, against the Steelers. Pittsburgh, however, rested some key players.

For this realistic possibility to pay that well, the book is saying the public expects the Steelers to dominate and force Cleveland to throw more.

This bet is as much about where one thinks Cleveland will be in the game as whether Chubb can hit the number.

If the bet hits, it pays very well.

How well?

For Derrick Henry to achieve the same totals in the Tennessee Titans-Baltimore Ravens game, the odds are +100 — a staggering difference for the same achievement.

The intangible thrown into the Chubb bet is the absence of Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, who won’t be behind the bench. He’s out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Will this have an effect on the team’s organization?

The bet offers indirect insight on the game. For Chubb’s prop number to be that large, insiders don’t expect him to be a major factor. It would correlate with Pittsburgh dominating the game.

But will the bettors agree?

Tom Brady vs. Alex Smith

Here’s one from the Washington Football TeamTampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday evening game.

Can Tom Brady of Tampa Bay and Alex Smith of Washington each toss two or more touchdowns? It’s +300 for a reason.

Brady has been on a roll, picking apart defenses with 12 touchdowns against only one interception over recent games. But those performances have come against the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions.

Washington hasn’t allowed two passing touchdowns in a game since Week 13 and will be the best defense Brady has seen in several weeks.

Smith did throw two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles in the team’s last game. Plus, Tampa does have a porous defense, so he will have a chance here. But he looks hobbled and can’t extend plays well.

Nonetheless, two touchdowns apiece is not a ridiculous thing to ask.

Colts-Bills kick off Wild Card Weekend

Here’s a prop to make bettors think about where the Indianapolis Colts-Buffalo Bills game will be during the fourth quarter.

Can each team come up with at least two touchdowns and two field goals?

The yes has been boosted from +225 to +250.

It’s a respectable return, because teams are not locked into scoring in each quarter. The key is believing the game will be close enough for a field goal to matter in the fourth quarter. Both teams are not shy about bypassing field goals and going for touchdowns, even in the red zone.

But with everything on the line, they could be tempted to play more conservatively and grab sure points when possible.

The proliferation of two-point attempts has also changed the number of field goals attempted. In taking this bet, you are hoping for a more conventional style of play.

More NFL betting possibilities

Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints to score twice against the Chicago Bears has been added. It’s gone up to +300.

There are some props for Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, but be wary. His status is uncertain versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Here’s an apples-to-apples comparison to benefit line shoppers

FanDuel Sportsbook has boosted the moneyline payout for Buffalo, Seattle and Tampa Bay to win their games from +160 to +190. This is meaningful because most other books have this one in the +160 range.

Thirty basis points is a substantial edge for the bettor.

Moneyline parlays are a good idea in the first place, especially with clear-cut favorites involved. In most instances, bettors will hit the majority of the wagers and always feel as though there’s a good chance this will hit.

The question is whether they can get that last one, and there usually is one difficult or sweat part of the wager, to make the bet pay.

Sign Up Bonus Up to $1,025
Up To $1,025 Free
Sign Up Bonus. T&Cs Apply.
$25 Free No Deposit Needed
Up to $1,000 Deposit Bonus
To Claim: Click Play Now

DraftKings Sportsbook luring newcomers

If you haven’t joined the parade yet, now is an excellent time.

For Wild Card Weekend, DraftKings Sportsbook is offering an easy score for first-time users.

Amid the NFL’s highest-scoring season ever, all you need is a touchdown. It’s what DraftKings likes to refer to as a no-brainer bet. The rules are simple:

  • Sign up for an account using the above link.
  • Deposit at least $5 into your DraftKings Sportsbook account.
  • Bettors will be issued one single-use odds boost (+100) to use for any team to score a touchdown during Wild Card Weekend.
  • The wager must be placed prior to the kickoff of Saturday’s Bills-Colts game.
  • You must select the boost from your betslip before placing the bet.
  • The maximum bet is $50.

There is a similar promo for existing customers, but the maximum wager is $25.

PointsBet says you drink the ‘juice’

PointsBet has an exciting slate of promotions to kick off NFL Wild Card Weekend, including the return of No Juice +100 spread lines. The max bet is $10,000.

This eliminates the vig, or the price of playing the bet, usually 10% of the wager.

The promo has particular significance on large bets. A $10,000 wager will usually result in a vig of about $1,000.

The principle applies for smaller bets, too. A $300 wager, for example, would provide a savings of roughly $30 if the vig vanishes.

William Hill + NFL Saturday playoff bonus

Here’s an if-you-win angle from William Hill. It involves all three Saturday games.

All it takes is wagering at least $50 on a pregame bet, and if you win, bonuses will kick in. Basically, you’ll receive free bet dollars for your team’s top running back’s stats. Here are a few examples:

  • $1 toward a free bet per 10 rushing yards.
  • $6 toward a free bet per rushing touchdown.
  • $6 toward a free bet per receiving touchdown.

Credits will be applied directly to accounts within five business days after the promotion period has expired. The free bet must be used within seven days after it is awarded.

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton



Football Five: NFL Playoff Odds Heading Into Wild Card Weekend

With six wild card games taking place this weekend, there are plenty of questions to consider as the NFL playoff season gets underway.

Welcome to the NFL playoffs Week 1.

Football Five, make it six, goes one step further this week. There are six playoff games and six key questions that will be answered, deciding who advances.

For the NJ sports betting crowd, action has been brisk enough to move a couple of the lines.

Here’s  a look at the playoff picture.

Can the Buffalo Bills handle the NFL playoff stage?

The Bills haven’t hosted a playoff game in 25 years. However, they were immediately installed as a one-touchdown favorite against the Indianapolis Colts for Saturday’s opening wild card game.

But William Hill still had the line at -6.5 on Tuesday. That’s a difference maker for bettors.

The Buffalo optimism is justified.

Josh Allen has turned into that special quarterback this year, adding a nice passing touch to his well-established running credentials. Stefon Diggs gives him a great target as the league’s leading pass catcher, 127 of them. Isaiah McKenzie had a second-quarter hat trick in the team’s 56-26 season-ending triumph over the Miami Dolphins.

What further helps the implied coronation is local officials allowing roughly 7,000 people to attend the game.

The question is what happens if Buffalo finds itself in a tight game late? The Bills have been playing from ahead, way ahead, in recent games and have been able to remain loose.

Indy will try to keep this tight with a ball-controlled game, hoping Buffalo makes a key mistake.

How does Indianapolis counter?

Jonathan Taylor has become the power back this team has long needed. He brought stability to the Colts, helping minimize mistakes from quarterback Phillip Rivers. Taylor rushed for an insane 253 yards last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is the key to Indy’s chances.

The Colts also have Frank Reich, one of the top coaches in the game and a mastermind behind the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning season three years ago. Reich was a Bills quarterback in the 1990s.

Reich will try to steal a couple of possessions from Buffalo via long, sustained drives.

The line says Buffalo’s weapons are younger and a bit faster.

Did John Wolford become a veteran for the Rams?

It was John Wolford’s first game as a quarterback. He didn’t find the end zone and threw some interceptions. But Wolford settled down, and his rushing total of 56 yards helped the Rams do just enough to capture a must-win victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17.

Can he step it up one more notch against a better Seattle Seahawks team in Saturday’s middle game?

The teams split games on their own fields in the regular season. This is ground-and-pound, methodical football. The Rams will try to stay close enough to take this away from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with a big defensive play.

The spread says bettors favor Wilson’s credentials over Wolford’s — unless Wolford’s running presents problems.

The teams scored 29 total points against each other two weeks ago. Seattle won the game, 20-9. The over-under for this one opened at 43.

Does Washington have any chance against Tampa Bay?

The line says no.

A home playoff team getting more than a touchdown is unusual. And the initial line of the Tampa Bay Bucs -7.5 did not attract Washington money. The line surged to -8.5 early in the week.

The Washington Football Team has epic problems scoring, and the Bucs figure to flush injured quarterback Alex Smith out of the pocket, where he has trouble moving, especially to his right. Tampa does not have a strong defense, but how good does it have to be here?

Washington limped to the wire but captured the NFC East with seven wins. Tampa Bay won 11, including the last four, and Tom Brady has never been better as a Buc than over the last four games. He’s got Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, along with a premier offensive line. The Tampa Bay mantra is winning shootouts.

The Washington defense is excellent and will make Brady battle for everything, but Brady is playing with renewed purpose now. This team has come together.

For Tampa bettors, the line is getting dicey, and many will tease it down, pay the premium and link this game into another one.

Note that the last two teams to win their divisions with sub .500 records, the 2010 Seahawks and 2014 Carolina Panthers, won their opening-round games. It’s hard to see a three-peat, though.

Who will win Ravens-Titans ground show?

The Ravens opened as slight favorites, the closest game of the first playoff week.

Don’t miss this one, opening Sunday’s schedule, especially if you love running games.

The over-under of 55 is the highest on the board this weekend. Titans running back Derrick Henry will be the subject of a prop-betting frenzy, from total yards to total touchdowns, anytime scoring and being the first touchdown scorer.

Henry surpassed 2,000 yards for the season in this past Sunday’s nail-biter over the Houston Texans. The Ravens stormed for 404 rushing yards, the first time in 20 years an NFL team did that, in crushing the Cincinnati Bengals, 38-3.

This is a Bengals team that had just beaten the Houston Texans, and then the Texans nearly defeated the Titans. That means the Ravens are scaling upward. Does that translate to an edge here?

Offensively, the teams have parity. Ryan Tannehill is an excellent, intelligent quarterback for the Titans. Henry is called “The Beast” for a reason. He has led the league in rushing the last two years. A.J. Brown is a bona fide deep threat for the Titans.

One intangible: The Ravens have been playing good defense, in part because their offense chews up a lot of time. Tennessee has one of the worst playoff defenses.

The defensive edge goes to the Ravens.

The second intangible, however, is the past.

The Titans stunned the Ravens, knocking them from the playoffs last year after Baltimore had compiled a 14-2 record. And earlier this season, the Titans beat the Ravens in overtime.

Do the Titans have the Ravens’ number, or is this Baltimore’s bounce back?

Great game coming.

Is there any NFL playoff love for Da Bears?

According to the odds, no.

The New Orleans Saints are the NFC’s No. 2  seed, which is represented by the opening week’s most lopsided line against the Chicago Bears, the last team to reach the playoffs.

Before bowing to the Green Bay Packers 35-16 last week, the Bears had scored 30 points or more in four straight weeks, a feat they had not accomplished since the 1960s. This is an overmatched Bears team but not a bad one, and the spread is huge.

The Saints should win, but it will be tempting for bettors to tease the line down.

Why is the Browns-Steelers line moving again?

Last week, the Cleveland Browns were -9 when they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in a must-win situation. They did.

On Tuesday, they were +6 for the rematch, a swing of a whopping 15 points in two days.

What happened?

Pittsburgh had been an underdog for what became Sunday’s 24-22 loss to the Browns because it rested key players like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Even with that, the Steelers nearly pulled it out and opened for the rematch at -4.5.

But that line moved Tuesday once news broke that head coach Kevin Stefanski won’t coach on Sunday. He tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t be available to lead the team. That’s bound to have some effect, especially regarding communication on the field during the game. Some players also tested positive, but none, as of Tuesday afternoon, were overly significant.

Steelers bettors who jumped on the 4.5 relish that early decision.

Historically, the Steelers have owned the Browns at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh crushed Cleveland there 38-7 midway through the year.

How’s this matchup overall?

The Browns have a better running game; the Steelers own a better passing game and defense. And they have been here before, often. This is Cleveland’s first postseason appearance since 2002.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar



Road To Indiana: All NCAA Tournament Games Will Take Place In Hoosier State

Now that we know where all 67 games of the 2021 NCAA Tournament will be taking place, here’s a look at March Madness odds.

Count it. The NJ sports betting industry just hit a three-pointer. March Madness, two golden words in the American psyche, is back.

Gamblers, sportsbooks and the nation’s college basketball fans are celebrating the rumors that became fact as the new year began.

The NCAA will bring back the NCAA Tournament for 2021 and conduct the entire tournament in Indiana.

The official announcement came Monday afternoon.

2021 NCAA Tournament plans

According to, the majority of the tournament’s 67 games will occur in Indianapolis.

NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said, “The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event.”

“With the direction of the Men’s Basketball Committee, we are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented. We’re fortunate to have neighbors and partners in Indianapolis and surrounding communities who not only love the game of basketball as much as anyone else in the country but have a storied history when it comes to staging major sporting events,” said Gavitt.

As far as where the games will be played, the NCAA will be using several locations:

  • Two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum
  • Mackey Arena in West Lafayette
  • Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington

Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14.

And plans remain to have the Final Four on April 3 and 5.

The dates of preliminary-round games are still to be determined.

Looking at March Madness odds

There is still a long way to go before conference champions are crowned and Selection Sunday takes place. However, it’s never too early to look at the NCAA Tournament futures.

NCAA Tournament, a cultural cornerstone, revived

Monday’s March Madness announcement is welcome news for bettors. Remember, the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled. And it coincided with COVID-19 pushing college and pro sports to the sidelines.

Although the NBA’s shutdown last March 11 was the pandemic’s acknowledged reference point, the NCAA had already been canceling conference championships.

That’s why the return of March Madness in any form is a financial and emotional lift.

Many logistics will be called into play here, and the tournament will have a bubble-type structure similar to those used to successfully complete the NBA and NHL 2020 seasons.

As far as the NCAA plans go, the Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility, with multiple courts set up inside the venue.

Marriott properties, an official NCAA corporate partner, will house most of the tournament teams. The hotels are connected to the convention center via skywalks and within a controlled environment. All teams will be housed on dedicated hotel floors, with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms, as well as secure transportation to and from competition venues.

So this may be the move that puts college basketball back on the front burner. The league began its season slowly, with an emphasis on regional games, limited travel and postponements for a couple of weeks when necessary.

March Madness will have a different feel

For operators like DraftKings Sportsbook, the 2020-21 NCAA men’s basketball season continues to be unique.

“College basketball feels different to me right now, but it will get better as we get through this (the pandemic),” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told in late December. “I get it, they are looking after the safety of the students, etc., and they are proceeding with caution.

“After the first of the year, especially, if we get everything under control, and if we feel comfortable heading into March, things should be all right.”

On a related matter, Avello said that although Garden State bettors can’t wager on New Jersey teams, it’s a minuscule liability for the books. Besides Seton Hall, there are few teams that would generate wagering interest for New Jersey gamblers.

“There used to be a law that Nevada bettors could not wager on teams in their state, which primarily meant UNLV and Nevada Reno,” said Avello.  “They changed that law a little over 20 years ago, and you were allowed to bet on those teams.”

“We did not get an abundance of money in the state for them. Customers are not looking at betting ‘their’ home team. It’s one thing if you lived in Boston and you bet the New England Patriots because they covered 70% of the time and made you money, but otherwise I don’t think anybody, regardless of the sport, is going to play the home team consistently,” said Avello.

A closer look at NCAA championship odds

Whomever they back, bettors wager into the lessons of past performance. Most teams will lose at least a handful of games and, throughout the season, top rankings will shift.

Some team in the 11-25 slot usually suffers an upset loss each week. This is a fertile area to bet into.

And the dynamic was even more pronounced last year, as teams in the Top 5 were shifted, too.

With no champion crowned last year, here are some numbers reflecting the betting sentiment. Good prices are still available on the national championship front:

DraftKings has Gonzaga at + 350, less of a deal than a month ago, but still good.

Villanova has rocketed up to No. 2 at +700. Baylor stands third at +800, followed by Wisconsin at +900 and both Houston and Texas at +1100.

There is good value in the Big East with Villanova at +225 and Creighton +375.

But, like all futures bets, the value will diminish for good teams over time.

March Madness futures at FanDuel and William Hill

There is variety at other books, including FanDuel Sportsbook.

Gonzaga (+350) is still the big pick, but Villanova improves to +900 here. And if you like Creighton, the team is +2500 at FanDuel.

At William Hill, the same major characters exist, with some slight wrinkles. Villanova, for instance, is +1000 to win the championship.

Gonzaga, Villanova and Baylor sat atop the college rankings as the year began. Eventually, the ranked teams will provide some sense of the circuit for bettors.

Villanova, which postponed its next three games Monday because of COVID-19 issues, remains an enigma. There will be no data to push the futures price either way.  By the time Villanova resumes, it will have gone through a multiweek break.

This is just part of the puzzle. Short term, some teams have issues. Longer term, meaning March, music has begun for the Big Dance.

Dreamstime photo 

CBS Sports, William Hill Planning For ‘Explosive Growth’

In a new partnership announced earlier this week, William Hill will become the official sportsbook and wagering data provider of CBS Sports.

In a new partnership announced earlier this week, William Hill will become the official sportsbook and wagering data provider of CBS Sports.

CBS Sports will begin to showcase its new partnership starting next month. The goal is to have a full rollout just in time for fantasy football season.

This new partnership joins similar ones made by:

Public responding favorably to the CBS Sports William Hill deal

According to Legal Sports Report, the news of the CBS Sports-William Hill partnership was met with positive feedback as the stock price for William Hill climbed 5%.

Wiliam Hill brings brand name recognition, along with its 140 sportsbooks to a well-established CBS Sports Digital sports vertical.

It has more than 80 million users per month across its sites and apps. It also has tens of millions of followers on social platforms. 

The combined outreach of the two will attract new New Jersey sports betting customers, especially when March Madness and the NFL season kicks off.

What they’re saying about the CBS-William Hill deal

“We’re thrilled to launch this momentous partnership, which will allow us to deepen our investment and further extend our leadership in delivering multi-platform sports wagering content while providing William Hill with unprecedented reach for their market-leading betting platform as they continue to grow their industry-leading U.S. business,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Sports in a press release.

“The power of our distribution, combined with the strength of our brands and the expertise of William Hill, has us well positioned to tap into the explosive growth of the legal sports betting industry in the U.S.  Together, we will deliver even more value to this rapidly growing segment of sports fans.”

In this new partnership, William Hill will be promoted across CBS Sports’ broad range of digital properties. That includes promotion to CBS Sports Fantasy, one of the largest fantasy platforms in the world.

Additionally, William Hill will benefit from being promoted through:

  • CBS SportsLine
  • CBS Sports HQ

“CBS Sports, similar to William Hill, has a longstanding history of connecting fans directly to the biggest events and most iconic moments in sports,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US, in a press release.

“We are excited about this partnership, with assets including mass-reach digital content products, one of the largest fantasy sports databases and platforms in the world, and leading sports television programming, which will allow us to expand the William Hill brand across America quickly and efficiently.”