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NCAA March Madness betting: Two potential Cinderellas stand out as most popular bets to pull an upset

Frank Schwab
·2-min read

Bettors are looking to a pair of No. 13 seeds to bust some brackets this week.

The NCAA tournament is famous for its first-round upsets, and bettors love trying to figure out which underdog might pay off nicely on the moneyline. Usually No. 12 seeds get the most attention, due to the history of 12 seeds over 5s, but two No. 13 seeds are the most popular this year. And both teams are going against No. 4 seeds who should be recognizable to most fans.

The two most popular underdog moneyline bets at BetMGM are No. 13 Ohio over No. 4 Virginia and No. 13 Liberty over No. 4 Oklahoma State. The point spreads on both games are going down, too.

Two No. 13 seeds getting a lot of bets

There are differences in the likely reasoning for each No. 13 upset.

Ohio over Virginia seems to be due to the Cavaliers' COVID-19 issues. Virginia had to drop out of the ACC tournament last week due to a positive test. We don't know all the details, but the unnamed player (who reportedly) got minutes in Virginia's last game against Syracuse) is unlikely to play in the first or second round of the tournament according to coach Tony Bennett. The majority of Virginia's team will be quarantined until Thursday, they will then fly on Friday and play Saturday. That's a tough situation, and has bettors grabbing Ohio at +280 odds. The point spread has moved from Virginia -9.5 to -7.5.

The Oklahoma State-Liberty game also has seen a 2-point shift. There are no weird COVID-19 related issues with Oklahoma State, but bettors like Liberty anyway. Oklahoma State is a marquee team in the tournament due to freshman Cade Cunningham, the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft. But they were over-seeded and Liberty has paid off for bettors before. Liberty upset Mississippi State as a No. 12 seed in the first round of the tournament two years ago. Liberty is also +280 on the moneyline and the line has moved from 9.5 to 7.5. You'd assume bettors would look to take Cunningham and OSU, but the opposite has been true.

In the First Four that happens on Thursday, Drake-Wichita State and UCLA-Michigan State are the most-bet games on the board. Among games on Friday or Saturday, Virginia-Ohio is getting the most action at BetMGM. Arkansas vs. Colgate is next on the list.

There will be plenty of bettors and fans looking for upsets in the first round. Two teams in particular will be getting a lot of attention.

Darius McGhee and the Liberty Flames play Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA tournament (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Darius McGhee and the Liberty Flames play Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA tournament (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

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