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The NCAA tournament tips off tomorrow, however there is still March college basketball to get excited about tonight.
Sixteen teams will be battling it out in the NIT, with all the games taking place in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“This year the NIT is at a neutral site, so the futures odds should be a little juicier,” said Nick Bogdanovich, Director of Trading for William Hill US. “Usually these top teams get home games in their arena earlier in the tournament, so their odds are cut. I’m wondering if there will be an increase in action given that these prices are higher than they normally would be.”
When William Hill first released its NIT championship futures in Nevada, there were three co-favorites at +450: Memphis, Saint Louis and Ole Miss. Now Memphis stands alone at +350, with Saint Louis and Ole Miss staying put at their original number.
“Penny [Hardaway] has got them playing well and they have a lot of talent,” Bogdanovich said. “Memphis gave Houston a lot of trouble in both of their meetings recently and could have beaten them, and Houston is one of the best teams in the country. So I see why they’re the favorite here.”
North Carolina State has the fourth-lowest odds at 10/1, followed by four teams at 12/1—Colorado State, Boise State St. Mary’s and SMU. Davidson is next at 15/1, with Richmond, Western Kentucky, Mississippi State and Buffalo all close behind at 18/1 apiece. The teams with the longest odds are Toledo (20/1), Dayton (25/1) and Louisiana Tech (40/1).
The first two NIT showdowns take place tonight, and both are on ESPN2. No. 3 Toledo will square off against No. 2 Richmond at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, then No. 3 Western Kentucky and No. 2 Saint Mary’s make up the nightcap at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Richmond opened at -1.5, but the favorite has flipped in this contest. Toledo is now 4-point chalk and -200 on the moneyline, whereas Richmond’s ML is +175. After first being listed at 154, the total currently sits at 152.
The majority of William Hill bettors think that the favorite will cover, although the other two markets are divided. Toledo has captured 73% of the total number of tickets and 79% of the total dollars wagered among all spread bets vs. Richmond, as well as 60% of all moneyline bets. Yet the Spiders have the advantage in total dollars wagered for all moneyline wagers at 63%. The total in this one is quite split, with the over receiving 51% of the total number of tickets and the under getting 54% of the total dollars wagered.
In the later clash, Saint Mary’s (-130 ML) is a 2-point favorite over Western Kentucky (+110). While the spread hasn’t moved since its release, the total has jumped up 1.5 points from 125 to 126.5.
The underdog is getting the love here, though. Western Kentucky has collected 55% of the total number of tickets and 79% of the total dollars wagered for all spread bets vs. Saint Mary’s, along with 61% of the total number of tickets and 53% of the total dollars wagered among all moneyline wagers. William Hill bettors are divided on this total too, with the over snagging 62% of the total number of tickets and the under has the advantage in total dollars wagered at 76%.
Check out William Hill’s odds for the 2021 NIT championship and first-round games below.