Vegas sports books on board with UNLV’s high expectations

Rebels posted around 25-to-1 to win the national title


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Mike Moser dunks on New Mexico during the first half of their game Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M.

Odds to win the NCAA Championship

  • Indiana — 8-to-1
  • Kentucky — 8-to-1
  • North Carolina — 8-to-1
  • UCLA — 10-to-1
  • Duke — 15-to-1
  • UNLV — 15-to-1
  • Kansas — 18-to-1
  • Michigan State — 18-to-1
  • Ohio State — 18-to-1
  • Syracuse — 18-to-1
  • Arizona — 20-to-1
  • Florida — 25-to-1
  • Michigan — 25-to-1
  • Missouri — 30-to-1
  • NC State — 30-to-1
  • Florida State — 50-to-1
  • Memphis — 50-to-1
  • Pittsburgh — 50-to-1
  • Cincinnati — 50-to-1
  • Georgetown — 50-to-1
  • Gonzaga — 50-to-1
  • San Diego State — 50-to-1
  • Baylor — 60-to-1
  • Texas — 60-to-1
  • Source: Station Casinos

Move aside, college basketball pollsters.

Another group of preseason opinion makers, one whose stances probably are far more valuable, are even higher on UNLV entering the season. The two major polls tabbed the Rebels at No. 18 and No. 19 in the nation, but sports books in Las Vegas listed no more than 13 teams ahead of UNLV in future odds to win the national championship.

“The steps that Dave Rice was able to make with the team last year, (Mike) Moser coming back and all the other pieces of the puzzle coming together makes it look like they’re prepared,” Red Rock Resort sports book director Jason McCormick said. “They have the ability to make a good run.”

Red Rock, and the rest of the Station Casinos, adjusted UNLV’s price to win the national championship to 15-to-1 last week. That’s the lowest mark in town, with only seven teams favored over the Rebels.

Talk about high praise for a team that hasn’t won, or even covered in, an NCAA Tournament game since 2008.

“Our position in the UNLV market here locally is why we’re getting a little more flooded with UNLV money,” McCormick said. “We don’t get people coming here a ton from Indiana, Kentucky or North Carolina that are betting into our network. All these people from the Midwest are betting on their teams in the future books at some of the Strip properties, so they may be able to keep UNLV a little bit higher based on that money.”

More in line with the consensus, the LVH Superbook has UNLV at 25-to-1 to win the crystal basketball at the end of the year. William Hill sports books list the Rebels at 30-to-1.

They’re widely getting bet as a sleeper.

“For the first time in a long time, we’ve actually seen some UNLV money,” William Hill spokesman Jimmy Vaccaro said. “Not that there’s been landslide money, but we’ve written some tickets. It shows there is some interest on this team.”

Despite UNLV’s cash-frying 12-19 against-the-spread record last year, support at the betting windows likely will continue during the regular season. Sports books would favor the Rebels in all but two nonconference games — at California on Dec. 9 and at North Carolina on Dec. 29 — at the moment, according to McCormick.

The Rebels also likely would give points in 14 of their 16 Mountain West Conference games.

“If I was to put up lines for the entire year, I would have them as the dog at New Mexico and, obviously, at San Diego State,” McCormick said. “But they’re going to be favored in a vast majority of their games.”

Oddsmakers aren’t worried about paying extra attention to UNLV’s lines or tweaking the spreads to account for the action.

“It’s not that crazy,” Vaccaro said. “They aren’t the Miami Heat.”

Vaccaro agrees with the public sentiment that UNLV possesses its best roster in recent memory, but he cautions bettors to give the Rebels time to jell. Vaccaro predicts that under Rice’s leadership, they will reach their potential before the end of the season.

The hype is deserved.

“I don’t get excited over anything like that,” Vaccaro said. “But this is the best shot we’ve had at advancing deeper into the tournament in a long time.”

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

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  1. Did the Vegas spots books not watch the exhibition game against Dixie State yesterday? They may want to rethink their prediction if UNLV comes out and plays the way they did against Dixie.

  2. Mj20, That game is in the past and everyone should move on. I personally think that game was no big deal. Plenty of Elite teams have struggled against Division 2 teams so stop acting like we are going to tank because we struggled against a team that played their hearts out. March is important not November!

  3. Hey Case, you have UNC listed twice with two different odds.

  4. Thanks, encino. Accidentally listed their opening and current number