Ohio sportsbooks have been legal for a little more than a month. While the success of sports gambling in the Buckeye State is not entirely known yet (the state’s January figures will be released near the end of February, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission), there is no time to wait.
After bettors flocked to Ohio sports betting apps, betting windows and kiosks for the Super Bowl, there is less than a month until the start of the 2023 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, also known as “March Madness.”
Across the nation, bettors combined to wager more than $3 billion on the 2022 NCAA Tournament, according to a study from Fortune. With more states launching sports betting over the last year – including Ohio – that number should rise in 2023.
Will Ohio see a big sports-betting surge next month when the tournament tips off? Other states have.
Arizona, which launched sports betting in September 2021 and had its first March Madness run last year, produced a then-record $691 million in bets in March 2022 and made nearly $40 million in revenue, according to 12News In Phoenix.
Arkansas approved mobile sports betting just days before the start of last year’s tournament. The result? A 74.3% increase in month-to-month overall handle for the state, per BetArkansas.com.
Elsewhere, Illinois had its in-person registration rule expire just before the start of last year’s tournament. That led to bets pouring in across the state, with $286.2 million wagered on the tournament, with the state’s casinos making more than $14 million, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Which Ohio Teams Will Make It?
If a Division I college basketball team from Ohio makes a run in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, it would be a Cinderella story.
Only one program – Xavier University – is currently ranked, coming in at No. 16 in the latest Associated Press men’s basketball poll. The Musketeers, led by head coach Sean Miller in the first year of his second stint with the school (the first was 2004-09), are 19-7 overall and in a three-way tie for second place in the Big East Conference.
Xavier should make the tournament and hopes for a high seed in the dance. Xavier is currently +600 at Caesars Ohio Sportsbook to win the Big East behind Marquette (-185) and Creighton (+250) and 30-to-1 (+3000) to win the NCAA Tournament. That is tied for 14th overall, which is not bad.
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The University of Cincinnati is 17-10 and is currently fifth in the American Athletic Conference. The Bearcats will move to the Big 12 next year. Cincinnati is 90-to-1 (+9000) at PointsBet Sportsbook Ohio to reach the Final Four but would likely need a run in the AAC tournament to qualify for the big dance.
Ohio State is in serious danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 (sans the canceled 2020 tournament due to the pandemic). The Buckeyes are on a big-time slide, having lost 11 of their last 12 games following a 10-3 start to the season. The Buckeyes (11-14) were once a team on the bubble, but now appear headed to missing the tournament entirely.
The Dayton Flyers have won four of their past five and sit at 17-9 overall with a 9-4 mark in the Atlantic 10. Dayton is a slight underdog to VCU to win the conference. Currently, the Flyers have a 36% chance of making the tournament, according to ESPN’s Bracketology.
The Mid-American Conference could have an at-large bid, but it’s not likely. Ohio programs Kent State (21-5, 11-2 MAC) and Toledo (20-6, 11-2) headline the conference and are tied for first.
Other Ohio teams in the MAC include Akron (18-8, 10-3), Ohio University (15-11, 7-6), Bowling Green (10-16, 4-9) and Miami University 8-18, 2-11). The winner of the MAC tournament will receive an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament and likely will be the conference’s lone representative.
That will likely be the case in the Horizon League, too. Youngstown State (20-7, 12-4) is tied for the league lead and has a great chance to go to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever at the Division I level. The program made the Division II tournament nine times from 1961-1977.
Cleveland State sits tied for third in the conference (16-11, 11-5) and Wright State in Dayton is sixth (16-11, 9-7).
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