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NCAA basketball betting futures odds: Books rooting against Florida State, for Duke or Baylor

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OK folks, with conference tournaments starting Tuesday, it’s a good time to check in on national championship futures odds in NCAA basketball betting. Covers finds out which teams are trouble and which are terrific for bookmakers, with college basketball insights from Alan Berg, senior oddsmaker at Caesars sportsbooks, and Matt Chaprales, head of content at PointsBet USA.



First off, let’s clarify by noting that the baseline for this article is teams that are solid NCAA Tournament units. Sure, there’s a good chance that Vermont – out of the America East Conference – will be dancing in a couple weeks’ time. And there might be significant NCAA title liability on the Catamounts; at 350/1, a book’s burden can build off just a few bets.

But there’s a reason Vermont is 350/1. So, with that clarification made, Berg and Chaprales each pointed to three teams that present issues for their respective books, with Florida State topping the list at Caesars’ operations – in Vegas and across the country – and at PointsBet in New Jersey.

Although the Seminoles fell short Saturday at Clemson, they’re a rock-solid 24-5 SU and beat Louisville by 15 last week. The ‘Noles opened 50/1 at Caesars, stretched as far as 100/1, but are now 18/1. PointsBet opened Florida State at 50/1 and is currently at 16/1.

“We took $5,000 on Florida State at 25/1, so that bet alone represents a six-figure liability,” Chaprales said. “Dayton is obviously the biggest mover from the preseason, while Kentucky has generated some recent interest, which is a combination of an increasingly attractive price point and the Wildcats’ perennial public status.”

Dayton is arguably the biggest surprise of the season. The Flyers, ranked third and on an 18-game win streak, opened as a 250/1 long shot at PointsBet, dropped to 50/1 by December 1, 20/1 by Feb. 1 and are now 12/1. Kentucky’s tightest point was actually its opener, +850, and the Wildcats reached 22/1 on Feb. 1 before rebounding to 15/1.

Back at Caesars, San Diego State opened 100/1, its longest odds, and is now 15/1. Michigan also creates significant liability, opening 20/1, sliding to 100/1, but now sitting at 30/1.
Interestingly, Dayton (27-2 SU) is not an issue for Caesars, despite an opening price of 200/1 and current odds of 12/1.

“Dayton is a small winner for us,” Berg told Covers on Friday.


NCAA Basketball Futures Odds – Caesars Sportsbooks

Florida State 50/1 100/1 18/1
San Diego State 100/1 100/1 15/1
Michigan 20/1 100/1 30/1




Joining Dayton in the “Interestingly Enough” category at Caesars books is Baylor, ranked No. 1 for a few weeks before a Feb. 22 home loss to Kansas. Despite opening at 500/1 and now sitting 9/1, the Bears having their one shining moment would be the best outcome for Berg and the rest of Caesars’ risk team.

Likewise at PointsBet, although Baylor represents the third-best outcome, after opening at 30/1 – note: Caesars had Baylor posted in the futures book much earlier than PointsBet – expanding to 40/1 by Dec. 1 and currently sitting at +950.

Duke is the best outcome for PointsBet and the second-best for Caesars, although of course the Blue Devils’ odds have been reasonably short all along. PointsBet opened Duke 9/1, never got longer than 11/1 and is at 10/1 now, while Caesars opened 10/1, reached 16/1 and currently sits 13/1.

Gonzaga is PointsBet’s second-best outcome, going from a 20/1 opener to 8/1 Feb. 1. The Bulldogs are currently +850.

“No real surprise here,” Chaprales said. “After Kansas, these teams (Duke/Gonzaga/Baylor) have the shortest odds, so not a ton of appeal to public bettors.”

Louisville is a very good result at Caesars, too, opening 15/1, stretching to 30/1, then back to 18/1.


NCAA Basketball Futures Odds – PointsBet USA

Duke +950 11/1 10/1
Gonzaga 20/1 20/1 +850
Baylor 30/1 40/1 +950

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.