The biggest bets in Las Vegas are on North Carolina, the favorite to win the NCAA tournament, heading into Final Four weekend.
The Tar Heels are a 4.5-point favorite over the Ducks in Saturday's second national semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Gonzaga was a 6.5-point favorite over upstart South Carolina in the first game, a game the Bulldogs went on to win 77-73 to advance to the national championship.
The early betting action on the two Final Four games throughout the week had been evenly divided for the most part, though sportsbook directors estimate that 90 percent or more of the money bet on the games will be placed Saturday. But there already have been some large wagers on the Tar Heels.
The South Point sportsbook reported taking a $525,000 money-line bet this week on North Carolina to beat Oregon outright Saturday night, a wager at minus-210 odds that would net $250,000 if the Tar Heels prevail. According to South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews, the bet was placed by a deep-pocketed new customer who has been backing North Carolina consistently during the tournament. The same bettor risked $100,000 on North Carolina to beat Kentucky in the Elite Eight.
"Actually, before that bet, we had quite a bit of money on Oregon on the money line, but nothing like this," Andrews said.
William Hill's Nevada sportsbook said the Tar Heels are its biggest concern, in large part because of a $50,000 futures bet on North Carolina to win the national championship made on March 24, when the Tar Heels were listed at 4-1. The bet would net $200,000.
Regardless of which of the four teams win, Caesars Palace is in good position on its odds to win the national championship. Director of specialty games Frank Kunovic said the Tar Heels are the book's worst-case winner, "but they're still a good six-figure win for us."
South Carolina, the largest long shot remaining, was listed as high as 500-1 to win the national championship during the season. The Gamecocks were 225-1 in December when a bettor at the Wynn risked $500 on coach Frank Martin's squad. If South Carolina can pull off two more upsets, the bettor will net a $112,500 profit.
As of Saturday morning at William Hill, 52 percent of the money bet on the South Carolina-Gonzaga point spread was on the Bulldogs. Oregon had attracted 59 percent of the money bet in its showdown with North Carolina.