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October 31, 2014

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Final Four betting odds: Kentucky and Ohio State proving Las Vegas sports books prophetic

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kentucky’s Terrence Jones stretches during the first half of an NCAA tournament South Regional finals college basketball game against Baylor Sunday, March 25, 2012, in Atlanta.

2012 NCAA Tournament

What's the best bet of the Final Four?
Kansas +2.5 — 30.5%
Ohio State -2.5 — 25.1%
Kentucky -9 — 23.2%
Louisville +9 — 21.2%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

A day before the NCAA Tournament began two weeks ago, Las Vegas oddsmakers saw Kentucky vs. Ohio State as the most likely national championship matchup.

Sports books aren’t changing their position with the Wildcats and Buckeyes one victory away from playing for the title. After Sunday’s Elite Eight games, sports books across the valley opened Kentucky and Ohio State as favorites in their national semifinal contests Saturday in New Orleans.

No. 1 seed Kentucky is posted as a 9-point favorite over No. 4 seed Louisville in the first Final Four showdown. In the second game, oddsmakers favor No. 2 seed Ohio State over No. 2 seed Kansas by 2 ½ points.

If Kentucky and Ohio State prevail Saturday evening, it will mark the first national championship since 2007 featuring the two pre-tournament Vegas favorites.

Florida outlasted Ohio State, 84-75, in the final game that year.

The Wildcats and Buckeyes have lived up to their lofty Vegas odds this year by rolling through the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky has beaten four tournament opponents by an average of 14 points. Ohio State has downed foes by an average of 12 points. Both have gone 3-1 against-the-spread.

Most sports books offered Kentucky at a price around +200 (risking $1 to win $2) to win the tournament when the field of 68 was revealed two weeks ago. The odds are now flipped with the Wildcats at -200 (risking $2 to win $1).

Ohio State is now +300 after getting down to as low as +500 before the tournament began. Las Vegas originally gave Syracuse the second-best chance to win the title before it ruled star center Fab Melo ineligible. The Buckeyes then surpassed the Orange.

According to Vegas odds, Kansas was the sixth most likely team to win the tournament. The Jayhawks have seen their price to win the NCAA Tournament diminish from 12-to-1 to 5-to-1

Louisville is the longest shot remaining, as it was available for as high as 40-to-1 to win the NCAA Tournament earlier this month. But the Cardinals have cashed more tickets than any other team, covering the spread in eight straight games, to see their odds go down to 6-to-1.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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