Finally, March Madness betting in West Virginia has arrived.
While there was plenty of doubt around this latest men’s college basketball season, it appears that we are going to crown a champion. Of course, last year’s NCAA Tournament wasn’t played due to the coronavirus.
The 68-team field is set, and the Big Dance is ready to get underway. The action from the First Four doesn’t start until Thursday, but WV sportsbooks are overflowing with markets to bet on.
Even though the WVU Mountaineers endured a tough finish to the season, they’re set up fairly well to make a run. Coach Bob Huggins and his squad earned a No. 3 seed in the Midwest region.
Those watching the selection show on Sunday could’ve been surprised by this outcome for the Mountaineers. They certainly had a successful season thus far; however, they lost to Oklahoma State in their final two games.
The Cowboys took them down in the regular-season finale, then proceeded to win again in the second round of the Big 12 tournament.
Still, WVU received a top-three spot in the bracket and has an opportunity to make some noise.
Let’s take a look at the Mountaineers’ path through the tournament and examine potential matchups going forward.
March Madness betting at WV sportsbooks
Before we dive into WVU’s opening contest, where do WV sportsbooks list the team as a whole?
According to WV FanDuel, the Mountaineers have odds of +5000 to win it all. This gives them the 12th-best odds to lift the trophy, tied with Kansas, Purdue and Virginia.
The online sportsbook shows the following teams with better odds:
- Gonzaga +200
- Baylor +600
- Illinois +600
- Michigan +800
- Iowa +1700
- Houston +2100
- Ohio State +2100
- Alabama +2200
- Oklahoma State +3500
- Texas +3500
- Florida State +4000
FanDuel gives the Mountaineers odds of +750 to make the Final Four.
Different markets are available depending on which WV online sportsbook you prefer to use. WV DraftKings Sportsbook provides betting odds for if teams will qualify for the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight.
For these markets, DraftKings allows you to wager on both the Yes and No option. The Mountaineers have odds of -118 to make the Sweet 16, while bettors can take them to lose in the first two rounds at -106.
These odds take a big jump when looking at the probability of making the Elite Eight. WVU is shown at +350 to win three games, while the No choice is -480.
Despite being the No. 3 seed, BetMGM WV Sportsbook puts the Mountaineers as fourth in their region. It features Illinois (+150), Oklahoma State (+400), and Houston (+500) ahead of the Mountaineers at +600.
WVU’s path to the 2021 Final Four
While WVU doesn’t have a lot of momentum right now, the team is definitely talented enough to win several games. If it can get focused and execute its best basketball, there’s no reason WVU can’t make a deep run.
The Mountaineers start things off on the opening day of the first round, this Friday, March 19. They match up with the Morehead State Eagles in the opener, scheduled to tip off around 10 p.m. EST.
Morehead finished the year with a 23-7 record, which was good enough for second place in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Eagles won their postseason tournament, though, beating Belmont to snag the league’s automatic bid.
Although some teams face potential upsets in the Round of 64, WV sportsbooks seem to like WVU’s chances. DraftKings has the Mountaineers laying -12.5 in the point spread, while their moneyline odds are a sizable -1000.
The online sportsbook lists Morehead State with odds of +650 to win the game.
Anything is possible during March Madness, but this game feels safe for the guys from Morgantown. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index says WVU has around a 91% shot at a victory.
Things get a lot more interesting in the following round. If WVU can advance, it will face the winner between No. 6 San Diego State and No. 11 Syracuse.
A Syracuse win would be considered an upset on paper, but the spread is much tighter in this one. WV sportsbooks have San Diego State giving just -3 in the spread.
Regardless of the outcome, the Mountaineers are likely to be favored again. Bettors should expect to see a tight spread against the 16th-ranked Aztecs and something larger if the Orange triumph.
Betting on the Mountaineers
Two wins this upcoming weekend will land the Mountaineers a spot in next week’s Sweet 16. Here, they will likely find the No. 2 seed in Houston.
Unlike the first few rounds, Houston would probably have the advantage at sportsbooks against WVU.
The Cougars have a 24-3 record and are ranked No. 6 in the last AP Top 25 of the season.
They’ll have to take down Cleveland State and then either Rutgers or Clemson in the second round.
Houston played just one ranked opponent all year, but it won that game. Coincidentally, this was against a Big 12 member in Texas Tech.
The Cougars beat the Red Raiders by 11 points at home in just their third game. In spite of this game taking place in November, Houston’s proven it’s a real contender.
WVU also won both of its meetings with Texas Tech.
No. 2 seeds in the tournament are 34-22 since 1985 when going against No. 3 seeds. Barring an injury, this spread would be a close one, but that doesn’t mean the game will be.
Surprisingly, nine of the 11 games of this variety since 2013 resulted in at least a 10-point differential.
A win for WVU would mean its first Elite Eight appearance since 2010. That was the team’s last time at the Final Four as well.
Midwest region favorite
Hopefully, for the Mountaineers’ sake, the top half of their region is complete mayhem. It’s possible that No. 4 Oklahoma State or No. 5 Tennessee could make it through, but the odds are with No. 1 Illinois.
It just won the Big Ten Tournament behind two stars in guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn. They’re averaging over 38 points per contest and lead a confident group.
The Fighting Illini went 7-3 against ranked teams and were an incredible 16-4 in the treacherous Big Ten. Since they are tops in the Midwest and ranked second in the country, it’s safe to say WVU’s an underdog here.
That being said, if WVU wins its first few games, it will be playing well enough and have the confidence it needs. There’s no reason why it can’t limit Illinois to an off night and escape to the Final Four.