It may not seem like much, but the Vegas odds have changed since Saturday night making North Carolina a 1.5 point favorite. The Tar Heels were originally cast as a 2-point favorite. Less than a bucket hardly makes Gonazaga a real underdog, despite its first-time finals status. But ask any gambler and you’ll find that there’s a world of difference between a 1.5 point spread and a “pick’em” — that’s what it’s called when the odds are even and you bet the game straight up without giving or getting points. In such a seemingly even matchup, Gonzaga’s 1.5 point total means more money is going toward the Bulldogs.
By lowering the early line from 2 points to 1.5 points bookmakers are trying to attract more wagers on the North Carolina side of the equation. In an ideal situation, bookmakers would have an even number of bets on both sides so they wouldn’t have to cover losses, but only collect the betting fee — or the “vigorish” as it’s known. This is the first game in the NCAA tournament that has Gonzaga as an underdog.