Heading into Sunday night, legal sportsbooks in the United States knew who had automatic bids for the 2022 NCAA D1 women’s basketball championship tournament. With the 2022 Selection Sunday show now over and the bracket official, the entire field of 68 teams is public knowledge.
How have legal sportsbooks reacted to seeing the initial matchups and potential meetings? More importantly, which teams look like a great value now given their possible roads to a national title? In a word, it’s madness.
How the markets looked prior to 2022 Selection Sunday
Early Sunday, the consensus favorite between Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel was the South Carolina Gamecocks. Caesars had the best odds on them winning their second women’s basketball championship at +200.
The Connecticut Huskies carried the second-shortest odds at all three of those books with the best action split between DraftKings and FanDuel at +350. Again, the three books agreed on their third choice, the Stanford Cardinal. Caesars had them +600.
After having a similar opinion on the North Carolina State Wolfpack (+1000 at Caesars), that’s where the markets diverged some. DraftKings and FanDuel had the Louisville Cardinals at +1200 and +1500 respectively. Meanwhile, Caesars slotted the Maryland Terrapins at +1200.
After the brackets came out, there was some immediate reaction.
How Caesars, FanDuel reacted to the brackets
The games don’t begin until Wednesday but the action is live now. Caesars wasted no time in making adjustments to its lines based on the pending and potential matchups of teams. Here’s how the lines look now on both apps.
|North Carolina State||+650||+1100|
Across the board, Caesars has done far more adjusting based on the matchups than FanDuel. For example, Caesars shortened the odds for the Texas Longhorns to +2000 after they sat +3000 yesterday morning. Meanwhile, winning the Big 12 conference tournament title game was only worth a slight bump from +4200 to +4000 at FanDuel.
Another example of a big shift at Caesars but in the opposite direction was Maryland. Caesars dropped the Terrapins to +4000 after seeing their spot on the bracket last night. FanDuel kept them right at +4000.
So did Caesars overreact or has FanDuel not acted enough? The answer could be some of both at the same time. A look at the possible paths forward for these teams sheds some light on the subject.
Looking at Caesars’ and FanDuel’s possible rationale
This is the first time the D1 women’s field has 68 teams and the odds reflect that. The path to a championship for the favorites has a lot of intrigue and some value for bettors who are looking to get some action down now.
Keeping with our examples of Maryland and Texas, it’s easy to see some of the motivation behind the moves at Caesars when you look at the bracket. As the No. 2 seed in the Spokane region, the Longhorns might have to face defending champion and top-seeded Stanford in the Elite Eight.
However, Texas defeated the Cardinal on its home court already this season. That game happened all the way back on Nov. 14 but the Longhorns limited Stanford to just 56 points in the game. Texas also comes in on an 11-game winning streak.
Another team that the Longhorns could face in the Elite Eight is the Terrapins, who are the 4-seed in the Spokane Region. Maryland could face the Cardinal in the Sweet 16. Later in November, Stanford went into College Park and left with an 18-point win over Maryland.
The Terrapins also come in having dropped two of their last three contests. For Caesars, previous head-to-head results and recent form seem to carry a lot of weight. On the other hand, FanDuel seems to be trusting its models taking teams’ entire bodies of work into account.
Bettors shouldn’t take this as an omen that FanDuel will continue to keep its lines static as the tournament lunges forward. Thus, if you’re a believer in teams like Maryland, now could very well be the time to buy. The odds are only going to get shorter if they move on.