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Muir: A guide to betting the NCAA wrestling tournament

Brian Muir

3/19/2013
Brian Muir, Resident Oddsmaker
brimuir@gmail.com, Twitter: @MuirOrLess

On Thursday the nation's top wrestlers will meet in Des Moines to put their wrestling careers to the test and their legacies on the line. Likewise, die-hard college wrestling fans will flock to online and offline sports books to place action on the best-valued wrestlers in the tournament. If you're not in a tournament pool right now, then you're missing out on the excitement.

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:

  • Each weight class is broken down with a money line on the top two or three individuals (usually by seed). Then the remaining wrestlers, or the Field, are given a collective money line to win.

  • For clarity purposes each line uses a base amount of $100. So if the line is +150, that means you risk $100 to win $150. Likewise, if the line is -150, you risk $150 to win $100.

    A few numbers for thought before we break down the weight classes (all data is since the 2003 NCAA tournament):

  • The top seed at the NCAA tournament has won almost exactly 50% of the time.
  • A wrestler seeded third or lower has won approximately 30%.
  • A wrestler seeded fourth or lower has won approximately 20%.
  • The Field comes in on average twice a year.
  • The last time all ten NCAA champs came from a third seed or higher was 1999.
  • The last time all 10 champs came from one of the top two seeds? ... John Smith was wrestling Joe Melchiore for his second NCAA title .

    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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  • Comments

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    averageatbest (1) about 1 year ago
    where can I find the betting lines?
    ohioslayer (1) about 1 year ago
    The lines aren't out yet. But you can usually find the lines on a few different online sports books. Here are a couple that should have them:

    http://www.sportsbook.ag/
    http://www.bovada.lv/
    ohioslayer (1) about 1 year ago
    [deleted]
    averageatbest (1) about 1 year ago
    still can't find any lines, when do they post them? cutting it a little close.
    Muir (1) about 1 year ago
    Sportsbook.com
    Muir (1) about 1 year ago
    Under the MMA/Boxing heading. They are a little different this year but themes above stand.
    Widowmaker (1) about 1 year ago
    Muir Proclaims he is the resident oddsmaker lol what a joke!
    There is only one sportsbook in vegas that is taking wagers
    on the 2013 NCAA 1 Wrestking Tournament and you have to
    place your wager in person w/Cash and by the way the odds
    came out on Monday evening. Hint: Take the Field on 125,157 &174
    6 t0 1, Locks: Ruth, Kilgor