2022 March Madness Betting Takes Shape
The annual 68-team NCAA Spring Basketball Tournament, this year known as 2022 March Madness, is less than two weeks away— oh, how time flies.
Though there is still much to be decided during the final days of the regular season, the betting picture has already begun to take shape.
All signs point to this year’s tournament being the biggest, in terms of betting participation and patronage, marking yet another step towards the future of sports entertainment.
Numbers and Motives
16.9 million average viewers tuned in to last year’s NCAA Championship match between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Baylor Bears, a game that was decidedly won by the latter, 86-70. This was Gonzaga’s only loss of the season.
Forbes announced before last year’s Spring jollities that $8.5 billion were expected to be gambled throughout the four-week event. This drastically exceeded handles from years prior, such as $458.2 million in 2018; the credit was given to the arrival of online sports betting, which allows gamblers to place deposits from anywhere they please, so long as they are in a legalized location.
As 2022 March Madness approaches, 33 states are allowing sports betting in some form, and 18 of these have online gambling up and running. The door is wide open for all sorts of betting records to be obliterated this Spring.
2022 March Madness
The favorite heading into 2022 March Madnes is once again Gonzaga (+400), the top-ranked team in the land. The Bulldogs have a 24-3 record this season and, despite seeming worse on paper than last season, have been more convincing in their performances. Forwards Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren lead this outfit, each providing mastery of mid-range scoring, defensive intelligence, and rebounding prowess.
Next in line is Kentucky, a +700 favorite to win the NCAA Tournament, who is led by National Play of the Year candidate and double-double machine, Oscar Tshiebwe. The Wildcats have gone 23-6 and are second in a loaded Southeastern Conference that will have multiple representatives in the Big Dance. UK dominates most facets of the game and will have to be caught totally off guard to be upset because their talent is unmatched.
The bronze medal-winner of the favorites is Arizona, a +750 pick to emerge as the national champs. The Wildcats lead the Pacific-12 Conference with a 25-3 record and have a stud in Bennedict Mathurin (17.1 points, 5.3 rebounds) leading the line. Arizona dominates the boards and moves the ball extremely well, making their offensive intangibles the highlight of their program.
What to Watch For
Bettors have fallen in love with March Madness for the very reason it is named as such— madness.
The tournament seems to always produce a miracle Cinderella story, or an underdog that makes a run through the tournament and reaches a stage that nobody believed was possible. With the increased availability and visibility of sports betting filtering into the festivities, there is a near guarantee for growth in popularity within the industry.
The biggest winner from this year’s tournament, aside from the winning program itself, will be lawmakers in states where sports gambling has not been legalized because they will have just gotten their next “best” proof as to why sports betting is a hit.