Though betting the NCAA wrestling tournament used to be the best-kept secret in Vegas, the lines for the NCAA tournament have tightened up over the years. Still, there is value to be had, and I'm here to help you identify that value and make better, more profitable bets. Remember, I'm in no way responsible for what you bet, or if you bet. Please, ask your wife before laying down JR's college fund this year on a bet for an unseeded wrestler to win the title at 165 pounds.
For the newcomers, here's how it usually works:
A few numbers for thought before we break down the weight classes (all data is since the 2003 NCAA tournament):
A winning Field bet usually pays well. Steve Bosak belonged to the 184-pound field last year that was offered at +1450 ... Let that sink in ... Got it? OK. Find the Field bet you like, and you might find your NCAA tournament expenses paid. You might also cover your flights, lodging, drinks, and more Des Moines corn than you can handle.
On to this year's weight classes and my personal (pre-official) lines:
125: Alan Waters is undefeated and is rightfully your top seed. The round-robin between Matt McDonough-Nico Megaludis-Jesse Delgado had been following ro-sham-bo rules until Delgado broke format at last weekend's Big Ten tournament. ACC champ Jarrod Garnett owns a win over Delgado and should join Megaludis, Nahshon Garrett and a few more capable ACC wrestlers in the field. Tempting.
The lines: Waters +135, Delgado +150, McDonough +200, Field +450
The play: McDonough's third title looks like a long shot at this point, but it's unwise to count him out, especially in his own backyard. "Dirty" Waters and Delgado have been great but if the field comes in any better than +450, it could be a nice value bet to take a chance on a pretty wide-open weight class at this point. I like the field and/or McDonough.
133: Logan Stieber proved two weekends ago at the Big Tens that he's still a notch above Tony Ramos, though the Iowa wrestler has undoubtedly closed the gap by showing an ability to escape from bottom. Tyler Graff stuck with Ramos to the end at Big Tens and Chris Dardanes is the only wrestler in the bracket who owns a win over the top seed. They will join A.J. Schopp, Jon Morrison, and a game Scotti Sentes in the field.
The lines: Stieber -250, Ramos +200, Field +1450
The play: I think Logan Stieber is the biggest "lock" to win a title behind Ed Ruth. This Field line will be high, but stay away from it if you like money. Ramos has a reasonable chance to take the title and will be charged in front of a Hawkeye-heavy crowd. But ... he also has a tough lower bracket and a chance to be upset before the final, while Stieber does not. If Stieber comes in any lower than -250, bet him hard. Even with the black & gold factor, the Buckeye is still one notch above.
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