LAS VEGAS — Sin City casinos are sticking with Kentucky and Ohio State as Final Four favorites and still think the Wildcats have by far the best shot of winning the NCAA title.
Odds put out by Nevada casinos after the matchups were set show they think Kentucky — the No. 1 seed overall in the tournament — has a 52 percent shot at the title despite needing to win two more games, gambling expert RJ Bell of Pregame.com told The Associated Press.
"Clearly, Kentucky feels like a significant favorite," Bell said.
Casinos believe Ohio State has a 25 percent chance, Kansas a 15 percent chance and Louisville an 8 percent chance, Bell said.
Cantor Gaming, which operates six sports books in Las Vegas and shares its lines with the vast majority of Nevada's 186 sports books, made Kentucky a 9.5-point favorite over Louisville and Ohio State a 3-point favorite over Kansas for Saturday's semifinals.
Mike Colbert, Cantor's risk management director, said early wagers including several bettors gambling $10,000 each on Louisville pushed Kentucky down to a 9-point favorite. But he said he expects Wildcat bets to come later in the week.
"Kentucky, to me, is still basically a pro team out there. They put five guys that are going to play in the NBA on the floor basically at all times," Colbert said.
Kentucky's odds over Louisville are the widest gap between two teams in a semifinal matchup since 1999, Bell said.
Bell said 17 of 27 champions have been No. 1 seeds since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams.
Officials say that of 5.1 million brackets filled out on CBSSports.com, just over 4 million — nearly 79 percent — picked Kentucky to get to the Final Four. More than 43 percent picked the Wildcats to win the title.