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2020 March Madness odds: Three teams co-favored to win

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We are less than a month away from tournament tip-off and as the hype for March Madness grows, we give you a rundown on the odds for the top teams to take home this year’s NCAA men’s college basketball championship.

In what is easily the most wide-open field we have seen in years, there is a three-way logjam as favorite to cut down the nets on April 6 as Kansas, Baylor, and Gonzaga all top the list with +1,000 odds. Duke and Louisville, the two top teams in the ACC, come in next at +1,400 and +1,600, respectively, while undefeated San Diego State gives bettors odds of +1,800.

Oddsmakers at Bet365, one of the most popular online sportsbooks in the world, aren’t expecting a repeat champion as the Virginia Cavaliers sit at +5,500. Texas Tech, the 2019 runner up, comes in at +6,000.

Here are the updated odds for the Top 40 betting favorites:

Odds to win 2020 March Madness

Team Odds to win March Madness
Kansas Jayhawks +1,000
Baylor Bears +1,000
Gonzaga Bulldogs +1,000
Duke Blue Devils +1,400
Louisville Cardinals +1,600
San Diego State Aztecs +1,800
Dayton Flyers +2,000
Kentucky Wildcats +2,200
Maryland Terrapins +2,200
Oregon Ducks +2,500
Michigan State Spartans +2,500
Seton Hall Pirates +2,800
Auburn Tigers +3,000
Florida State Seminoles +3,300
Villanova Wildcats +3,300
Arizona Wildcats +4,000
Penn State Nittany Lions +4,000
West Virginia Mountaineers +4,000
Michigan Wolverines +4,500
Ohio State Buckeyes +4,500
Butler Bulldogs +5,000
Creighton Bluejays +5,500
Virginia Cavaliers +5,500
Houston Cougars +6,000
Texas Tech Red Raiders +6,000
Illinois Fighting Illini +6,000
Colorado Buffaloes +6,000
Xavier Muskateers +7,000
Iowa Hawkeyes +7,000
Purdue Boilermakers +7,000
Marquette Golden Eagles +7,000
Wichita State Shockers +7,000
North Carolina Tar Heels +8,000
Memphis Tigers +8,000
Arkansas Razorbacks +8,000
Saint Mary’s Gaels +8,000
LSU Tigers +9,000
Florida Gators +9,000
Wisconsin Badgers +9,000
Tennessee Volunteers +9,000

Understanding March Madness futures odds

Sportsbooks will post odds for the NCAA men’s basketball championship as early as the summer before the season starts. These odds are constantly adjusted throughout the offseason as players get hurt, suspended or are traded. Once the season begins in November, title odds will change as often as daily as teams win and lose games and as players get hurt or suspended. Sportsbooks will also adjust the March Madness futures odds based on handle and liability to certain teams.

March Madness futures odds will usually look like this:

  • Kansas Jayhawks +1,000

This means that on a $100 bet, you’ll stand to win $1,100 if the Jayhawks win the NCAA men’s basketball title. If it’s close to the end of the regular season or even during the tournament and college basketball has a very dominant team, you might see that a team is has a minus sign (-) ahead of its odds.

  • Duke Blue Devils -120

This means that you would need to bet $120 to win $100 on a Duke championship.

Above we have posted the American odds for March Madness futures. However, these are easy to convert to decimal odds or fractional odds with our odds converter tool.

How to bet college basketball futures

Predicting the winner of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament is one of the hardest things to do in sports betting. The lose-and-go-home format and the fact that a school needs to win six straight games against quality opponents means that the favorites don’t always take home the title.

Another factor that comes into play is that the tournament bracket isn’t set until Selection Sunday, which falls on March 15, 2020, this year. As the college basketball season winds down, you can be pretty sure that the big favorites will slide into the bracket as top seeds. But for teams in the middle of the pack, nothing is certain. Take a team like North Carolina as an example. They sit within the Top 40 betting favorites at +8,000 but the Tar Heels are in the middle of a losing season and would likely need an ACC tournament win to go dancing in 2020.

As always when betting futures odds, be sure to look into injuries and suspensions. You might find some current value in a team that is expecting to get a key player back before March Madness begins.

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.