Sportsbook Director Details Best And Worst March Madness Results For Vegas On Opening Weekend

A fan holds up money for a basketball bet.


A respected sportsbook director is dishing on the best and worst results for Vegas on the opening weekend of March Madness. John Murray, director of the SuperBook, detailed the winners and losers in an interview with ESPN.

The biggest movers included the fall of a Blue Blood, an awfully bad beat, and a historic upset.

First, let’s start with the best game for the sportsbooks. Not surprisingly, it involved the Duke Blue Devils. Jon Scheyer’s group was playing as well as anyone in the country this March, taking home the ACC tournament championship and winning a first-round matchup against Oral Roberts.

They wouldn’t fare as well in the round of 32 as the Blue Devils were beat up by Tennessee in a 13-point loss. The Vols took it to their opponent, pulling off the upset as a 3.5-point underdog.

Here’s what John Murray had to say about that Tennessee win, which he called the best of the weekend for Vegas.

“We were loaded with Duke money line and Duke minus the points and scooped the pot. Bookmakers look really smart when Duke and Kansas lose on the same day during the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.”

While the Duke win was huge for the sportsbooks, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the oddsmakers. A pair of weekend games landed some big money for the public, one of which came on a historic first-round upset.

Fairleigh Dickinson became just the second No. 16 seed to take down a No. 1 seed when it knocked off Purdue on Friday afternoon. While there weren’t many backing the Knights, it only takes a few money line wagers to turn a profit at 20-1 odds.

FDU’s upset reportedly produced the biggest loss of any March Madness game on the opening weekend, at least for Caesars.

“When you’re talking about 20-to-1 odds, it doesn’t take a lot of money to build up a lot of liability, and that’s what happened,” said Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook. “It was a bad game for Caesars Sportsbook, but it was a great game for college basketball.”

That wasn’t the only bad loser for Vegas in the first round. On Thursday’s opening night of action, San Diego State covered a five-point spread against Charleston in maybe the worst beat of the tournament thus far.

Trailing by four points in the final seconds, the Cougars fouled the Aztecs. Referees actually had to go to replay to make sure the foul came before the buzzer.

Officials put 0.7 seconds back on the clock, and the SDSU player continued to sink both free throws to hit the six-point mark. Here’s what John Murray said about that game.

“That was painful. It was a tough scene in the risk room, watching them add time to the clock and march down to the other end of the floor for those two free throws to cover the spread. Your readers would have been sobbing if they could have seen our faces as we ran all the different final scenarios during that fiasco. Painful.”

Murray notes this loser as his book’s worst result with most bettors backing the Aztecs.

Overall, it was still a winning weekend for Las Vegas to kick off March Madness. We’ll see if the public can flip the script in the Sweet 16.