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July 25, 2014

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Las Vegas favors Louisville over Michigan by four points in national championship

Over/under set at 138 points in game between two powerhouses

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Associated Press

Michigan head coach John Beilein cuts down the net after a regional final game against Florida in the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. Michigan won 79-59 to advance to the Final Four.

2013 NCAA Tournament championship game

Which side would you take in Monday's national championship game?
Michigan +4 — 64.2%
Louisville -4 — 35.8%

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.

In late January, the LVH Superbook listed three teams as favorites to win the NCAA Tournament.

Two of them, Louisville and Michigan, meet Monday night in Atlanta for the national championship. Oddsmakers are no longer hesitant with which team they prefer as Louisville opened as a 4-point favorite over Michigan at most Las Vegas sports books, including the Superbook and Cantor Gaming properties, on Saturday night.

The Cardinals are minus-180 (risking $1.80 to win $1) with the Wolverines coming back at plus-160 (risking $1 to win $1.60) to win straight-up on the money line at Cantor. That means sports books give Louisville approximately a 64 percent chance to win the title.

“Louisville certainly looks like the class of college basketball right now,” said Sunset Station Sports Book Director Chuck Esposito earlier in the week.

Wichita State put that distinction to the test in Saturday’s national semifinal, though. The Shockers led the Cardinals for most of the game before crumbling to a 72-68 loss late.

Wichita State easily covered the closing point spread of 10 points. It marked the second time this tournament Louisville failed to cover the point spread, as it also only beat Oregon by eight when laying 11 points in the Sweet 16.

Michigan has cashed tickets for its bettors more regularly as of late. The Wolverines’ 61-56 victory over Syracuse as 2-point favorites brought their NCAA Tournament against the spread record to 5-0.

“This Michigan team supposedly snuck up on everybody,” Esposito said, “but people forget they were the No. 1 team in the country and undefeated longer than everyone else.”

After a 16-1 start to the season, however, Michigan spiraled downwards before the NCAA Tournament — especially in Las Vegas. The Wolverines were just 2-10 against the spread, and 6-6 straight-up, from the beginning of February until the tipoff of March Madness.

During the same span, the Cardinals were 10-3 against the spread and 12-1 straight-up.

That explains why Louisville was 9-to-2 to win the title at the beginning of the tournament with Michigan at 18-to-1 after both were even at 6-to-1, along with Indiana, three months prior.

If Louisville wins, it will make it two straight years that the Las Vegas favorite prevailed as Kentucky also pulled off the feat in 2012.

The over/under for the national championship game has settled at 138 points.

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

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