Ohio had just two teams in the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the first that sports fans in the state can bet on since the Jan. 1 launch of legal sports betting in Ohio.
And now, following Kent State’s first-round loss to Indiana, just one Buckeye State team remains in the brackets heading into the Sweet 16.
Cincinnati’s Xavier University won its first- and second-round matchups in the first weekend of the tournament, overcoming an upset bid by 14-seed Kennesaw State before easily handling 11-seed Pitt.
Later this week, the Musketeers move on to face the Texas Longhorns in the Sweet 16.
Xavier earns first Sweet 16 since 2017
A 3-seed in the tournament, Xavier was heavily favored in its opening round game against Kennesaw State, who were playing in the tournament for the first time in school history.
For much of the game, the 14-seed Kennesaw State seemed to be on the brink of pulling off a major upset. The Musketeers were down 13 with less than 10 minutes to play. But late in the second half, Xavier turned on the jets and went on a 15-0 run, then holding on for a 72-67 victory.
Xavier looked much better in their second-round game against Pitt, who had upset Iowa State in the first round to advance. A 5-point favorite going into the game, Xavier led most of the game. Six Musketeers scored in double figures (including all five starters), with forward Jack Nunge leading the way with 18 points.
Xavier beat the 11-seed Panthers 84-73 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the ninth time in program history and the first time since 2017.
Head coach Sean Miller, who began his second tenure leading the Muskies this year, took Xavier to the Elite Eight in 2008 and the Sweet 16 in 2009, his last two years with the team before he left for Arizona.
BetMGM Sportsbook currently has Xavier with +3000 odds to win the tournament. The Musketeers opened the season with +8000 odds to win the championship. Last week, BetMGM had Xavier at +5000 odds to win it all.
Musketeers to face Texas in Sweet 16
Xavier will face a more formidable opponent in their Sweet 16 matchup. According to DraftKings, the 2-seed Texas Longhorns open as a 4-point favorite over the Musketeers in their game this Friday.
The Longhorns are playing in their first Sweet 16 since 2008. That year, Texas moved on but lost to Memphis in the Elite Eight.
The Longhorns entered the tournament with a 26-8 record and ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25 college basketball poll. Xavier came into the tournament with a 25-9 record and ranked 13th.
Texas has a balanced attack, with a stingy defense and potentially explosive offense. The Longhorns went 12-6 in Big 12 play during the season and handily defeated top-seeded Kansas in the Big 12 tournament earlier this month.
Marcus Carr leads the Longhorns with 15.9 points per game, followed by Jabari Rice, who averages 12.9 points per game. Xavier will also need to contain red-hot forward Dylan Disu, who scored a season-high 28 points in Texas’ second-round NCAA tournament win over Penn State. In that game, Disu set the Texas NCAA tournament record for most made field goals in a game with 14.
BetMGM had Texas at +4000 odds to win the National Championship at the start of this season. The Longhorns are currently at +900 odds to win the tournament, according to BetMGM.
Longhorns favored to move on to the Elite Eight
Xavier and Texas have only played once before. The Longhorns beat the Musketeers in overtime, 78-76, when the two teams met in the second round of the NIT in 2019.
Here’s the skinny on the teams’ Sweet 16 matchup:
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 2 Texas
- Game date: Friday, March 24
- Game time: 9:45 p.m. ET
- Game site: Kansas City, Mo.
- TV broadcast: CBS
All of the Ohio sportsbooks are currently favoring Texas to win. Here’s how Bet365 Sportsbook currently has odds set for the game:
- Spread: Texas -4 (-110); Xavier +4 (-110)
- Over/Under: Over 147.5 (-110); Under 147.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Texas -185; Xavier +165
Alabama remains favorite to win National Championship
According to BetMGM Sportsbook, Alabama remains the favorite to win the tournament. The Crimson Tide’s odds of winning it all are +400. Alabama began the season with BetMGM giving them +2000 odds of winning the National Championship.
After Alabama, UCLA has the next best odds of winning the tournament (+800) at BetMGM, followed by the aforementioned Texas (+900), UConn (+900), Creighton (+1000) and Gonzaga (+1100).
Creighton moved way up from their +10000 odds of winning it all at the start of the season. Other teams remaining in the field who greatly defied preseason expectations:
- Kansas State opened the season with +20000 odds of winning the national title. The team is currently +2500 to win the tournament.
- Florida Atlantic’s preseason odds of winning it all were +25000; those odds are now +5000.
- Princeton — just the third 15 seed to ever make it to the Sweet 16 — currently has the longest odds to win the tournament (+15000), but that’s way up from where their preseason odds sat: +100000.
|Team||Current Odds||Preseason Odds|
|San Diego State||4000||8000
BetMGM shares further 2023 tournament insights
BetMGM says that, so far, March Madness sports betting has gone very well … especially for them.
“This has been the best start ever to the NCAA Tournament in terms of action and results for the book,” BetMGM lead sports trader Seamus Magee said in a press release. “Duke, Kansas and Purdue losing were all good outcomes for BetMGM in the futures market. The public did also win big with Duke smashing Oral Roberts and Kentucky beating Providence in the Round of 64.”
According to BetMGM, the favored Alabama are leading the way in ticket and handle percentage:
Highest Ticket %
- Alabama 10.9%
- Kansas 8.8%
- Houston 7.2%
Highest Handle %
- Alabama 14.7%
- Kansas 11.1%
- Houston 9%
BetMGM Sportsbook has had a few notable bets going into the final stretch of the tournament.
Someone thinks that Gonzaga (+2500) will finally pull it off and win a National Championship this year, putting $10,000 on the Bulldogs to win it all. If the bet hits, that bettor will bring home $250,000.
Another bettor has put up even more money on Houston (+1000) to win the tournament. Someone used BetMGM to put down $500,000 on the Cougars to claim the National Championship. If Houston wins, that person will be $5 million richer.