March 26, 2019
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has routinely attracted many millions of dollars in wagers (mostly bet illegally). This year, however, several states have taken advantage of the Supreme Court decision which invalidated federal laws which limited sports betting to the State of Nevada. And the result has been both more money bet legally and more transparency in how those bets are being made.
And some of those bets make you scratch your head.
For instance, according to this report from ESPN, one bettor placed a $150 bet that Duke — the top-ranked team in the country — would beat North Dakota State in the first round. Duke did. The bettor was rewarded with the return of his $150 plus an extra dollar.
Almost as crazy was the bettor who put down $500,000 on Michigan to beat Montana in the first round. The Wolverines did, and the bettor netted $27,777. He then reinvested that entire amount, and bet $527,777 that Texas Tech would beat Northern Kentucky. They did. The bettor netted $37,698.
Meanwhile, one better wagered 14 cents on a bet in which he had to correctly pick the winners of seven games — against the spread — AND the correct over/under in total points. He did. His return on that 14 cent investment? A cool $1,345.78.
In 2014, Warren Buffett offered $1 billion to anyone who could correctly predict the outcome of every NCAA tournament game. No one managed to do so. And no wonder: the odds of doing so are roughly 2.4 trillion-to-one. In fact, according to the NCAA, no has ever officially picked a perfect bracket and the best anyone has ever done is to predict the first 39 games of the 67-game tournament, in 2017.