March Madness betting, odds: Kansas is most popular bet to win it all, and it's not close
Some of the blue bloods that have been non-factors most of this season, like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina, are waking up a bit as March gets closer.
Kansas has been here the whole time. Bettors have been buying in.
The Jayhawks are the one comfortable, recognizable team near the top of the seed lines in mock brackets. They are comfortably a No. 1 seed less than two weeks before the bracket is announced, and even a loss in the Big 12 tournament might not change that. Kansas won the national championship last season, lost several key pieces and it hasn't mattered much.
Maybe it's Kansas' play or maybe it's the familiarity with the brand name, but bettors have loaded up on Jayhawks futures. At BetMGM, Kansas has by far the most tickets and handle to win the NCAA championship.
In terms of money bet on the NCAA champion, Kansas has almost twice as much as any other team.
Kansas is popular among bettors
At BetMGM, 12% of all tickets to win the NCAA tournament are on Kansas. Purdue is second at 7.5% and Houston is 6.7%.
In terms of money bet in that market, Kansas has an even more surprising lead. At BetMGM, 17.1% of all the money bet on the NCAA tournament winner is on the Jayhawks. Houston is 8.9% and Purdue is at 8.2%.
In the last week, Kansas' odds have moved from +1200 to +800. Houston is the favorite at +600, and Alabama and Kansas are tied for second-best odds.
The NCAA tournament is usually a wide-open event. That's what happens when you throw 68 teams into a one-and-done playoff. During a season in which many of the typical favorites are down a bit, you might think that bettors would be willing to take programs that usually aren't title favorites at longer odds.
But they know Kansas, and that's what they've been betting.
Kansas has had a good season
The bets on the Jayhawks are justified. They're very good and a clear title contender.
Kansas has a good offense and a better defense. They haven't lost to a team currently ranked outside the top 25 in KenPom.com's rankings. They have an All-America candidate in Jalen Wilson and an impact freshman in Gradey Dick. Perhaps most impressively, Kansas has 15 quad 1 wins on its resume. No other team has more than 11, and only two other teams are in double digits.
Kansas plays in a very deep Big 12 and it leads the league by a full game. The Jayhawks have been tested, they've beaten good teams, they've won on the road, they have good star talent with a strong supporting cast, a Hall of Fame coach in Bill Self ... there's nothing missing from their profile.
There will be a lot of people rooting for the Jayhawks in March. There are many Kansas fans around the country. Plenty of others will be cheering on their future bets.