The Blue Devils, the No. 2 seed in the East Region, have moved into the role of favorites at sportsbook operator CG Technology. Duke was 9-1 on Sunday but has been shortened to 9-2 over the past three days, thanks to a flurry of money on the Blue Devils to win it all.
CG Technology reported taking a $4,800 bet on Duke at 9-1 and a $7,000 bet at 5-1, with several $1,000 bets in between this week. Since Sunday, 31 percent of all money bet on the book's odds to win the tournament has been on Duke. That's nearly triple the amount of the next closest teams, North Carolina and Arizona.
Other books also have seen notable bets on the Blue Devils, including William Hill, which on Monday took a $10,000 bet on Duke at 7-1. But North Carolina, at 5-1, remains the favorite at William Hill, the Westgate SuperBook and the Wynn race and sportsbook.
In ESPN's Tournament Challenge, the Tar Heels, as of Wednesday afternoon, are the most popular pick to win the title and can be found on 14.9 percent of more than 12.15 million brackets entered. Defending champion Villanova is next with 13.3 percent, followed by Duke with 12.2 percent.
While Duke and North Carolina sit on top of most sportsbooks' odds, No. 7 seed Michigan has attracted enough action to make the Wolverines the worst-case scenario for Station's Casinos. Michigan can be found at 60-1 to win the tournament.
Bettors also are lining up on the Wolverines in their opening-round game against Oklahoma State. The line opened at pick 'em, but has grown to Michigan -2.5. As of Wednesday afternoon, 94 percent of the money bet on the Michigan-Oklahoma State game on Friday was on the Wolverines. Of the first 51 bets on the game at CG Technology, only nine were on the Cowboys, and Caesars Palace reported taking a $10,000 wager on the Wolverines, one of the book's largest bets so far on the tournament.
"Duke and Michigan won their conference tournaments," CG Technology vice president of race and sports Jason Simbal said. "The public remembers that, and they're betting them nonstop."
Some bettors are, however, taking a more risky approach. There have been five national championship bets on 16-seed Mount St. Mary's at 2,500-1 and four bets on 16-seed Texas Southern at 2,500-1 at William Hill. Mount St. Mary's is a 26½-point underdog to overall No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday. Texas Southern is a 27-point underdog to North Carolina on Friday.
The sportsbook at Treasure Island in Las Vegas has posted a money-line on the North Carolina-Texas Southern game. The Tigers are 60-1 to pull off the upset, which would make them the first 16-seed ever to win a game in the tournament.
You'd need to risk $180 to win $1 on a North Carolina victory