March Madness prop wagers highlight top seeds

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No. 2 seeds have not fared well at the NCAA Tournament in recent years, failing to claim a national championship since Connecticut’s victory in 2004.

However, with the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans perched as a strong 11/2 bet to claim this year’s title, the odds of a No. 2 seed winning the championship are pegged at +250 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Meanwhile, the odds of a top seed, including Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia, claiming the 2016 crown are listed at +120 at the sportsbooks. Three of the past four national champions have been No. 1 seeds, but expectations remain tempered this year, reflected by the short -160 odds against a No. 1 seed winning the tournament.

While top seeds are attracting attention at the sportsbooks as championship candidates, they are also stirring interest in prop bets on which No. 1 seed will be the first one eliminated.

Winners of eight straight games, the Ducks have closed the gap on the national championship favorites since being selected as the No. 1 seed in the West Region, climbing to a competitive 14/1 after starting the month at a distant 33/1.

Oregon faces arguably the toughest road on opening weekend, including a possible second-round matchup with the Atlantic 10 Tournament champion St. Joseph’s Hawks, followed by a potential Sweet Sixteen showdown with either the Baylor Bears or the defending champion Duke Blue Devils, and is listed as -120 chalk to be the first No. 1 seed knocked off this year.

The Cavaliers, who are on track to face Iowa State in the Sweet 16, sit at +300, followed by UNC at +350, and the national championship favorite Jayhawks at +400.

In other March Madness props at the sportsbooks, the odds of a No. 16 seed claiming a first-round victory for the first time in tournament history sit at +1000, while a bet on a No. 12 win this weekend pays out at -200.

The line on the highest margin of victory in a first-round matchup sits at 36.5, with -120 odds attached to both the OVER and UNDER, while the line on the highest point total scored by one team in the first round is pegged at 96.5.

NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

NCAA College World Series
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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.