Bettors can now wager on any college basketball team to reach the Final Four well before the bracket is released and a single meaningful game is played. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has posted odds for 188 schools and will also post odds on any other team, upon request.
Duke, Kansas and Kentucky all have the lowest odds (+125). The Jayhawks and Wildcats landed key transfers, and and the Blue Devils welcome the nation's top three freshmen from the ESPN 100 to a team that must replace its entire starting lineup.
"Even though Duke probably has three lottery picks, it's hard to win with such young players," head Westgate oddsmaker Ed Salmons told ESPN. "I have them all really close."
Last week, the Westgate made similar bookmaking history by offering odds for 78 different schools to reach the College Football Playoff.
"I expect more interest in basketball because the format is much more conducive to long shots," Westgate oddsmaker and director of race and sports John Murray told ESPN. "Some football teams have no chance because of their conference. In basketball, you just have to win on the court and not worry about voting."
A team seeded seventh or higher has reached the Final Four in six straight years. "You can't get a Central Florida situation," Murray said, referencing the Knights' undefeated season and omission from the College Football Playoff.
Sixty different teams carry 1,000-1 odds. Loyola-Chicago, the most recent Cinderella, is posted at 100-1 odds.
The idea to post these odds did not even originate with an oddsmaker. A Westgate executive requested it.
"This is the first time I can remember that someone told us to put something up," Murray said. "It is unusual for the brass to add things to the menu, but it is a good idea."