Odds of titles not bad for Brewers, Packers
Ryan Braun is having a tough spring at the plate in spring training, but will he hit more than 30 ½ home runs during the regular season?
You can bet on that proposition and many other futures wagers at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
"With (Prince) Fielder gone, other teams may pitch around Braun," said Jay Kornegay, vice president of Race and Sports operations at LVH. "We've adjusted the total accordingly."
The Brewers opened the offseason at 40-to-1 to win the World Series and 15-to-1 to take the NL pennant. Their over/under win total proposition was 83.5 games.
The current odds feature Milwaukee at 25-to-1 to win the championship and 11-to-1 to capture the NL flag, and the win total stands at 85.
"A lot of that fluctuation was Braun-related," Kornegay said of the possible suspension the reigning NL MVP faced heading into the spring. "Especially now that he's going to play a full season. But we had already made those adjustments."
Other relevant baseball props show the Brewers at 2-to-1 to defend their division title (the Cincinnati Reds are favored at 7-to-5), Yovani Gallardo to win over/under 14 ½ games and Fielder's over/under home run total at 33 ½ with the Detroit Tigers.
In the NBA, only the Miami Heat (6-to-5), Chicago Bulls (9-to-2) and Oklahoma City Thunder (5-to-1) have single-digit odds of winning the championship in June. In a league ruled by the elite, even a team on the periphery of the playoffs like the Milwaukee Bucks are slated at 100-to-1.
Turning to football, the Packers, despite an inglorious playoff exit in January, are the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl (5-to-1) and the NFC (5-to-2).
"They had a great year but ran into a hot team," Kornegay said of the Packers' postseason loss to the Giants. "That's been the trend, peaking at the right time. It may not be the best team that wins but the hottest team."
Kornegay said the most money has come in on the San Francisco 49ers, NFC runners-up last season. The 49ers, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans all attracted futures action when Peyton Manning was considering each franchise as his next destination.
But while the fabled Green and Gold from Titletown is considered a good bet to lift the Lombardi Trophy in 2013, the Big Red from Madison are cast as decided also-rans, going off at 60-to-1 to win college football's BCS title. Bret Bielema will field a squad with just 12 returning starters.
"They're basically reloading," Kornegay said. "They have to replace a lot of players, and there are some tough teams in the Big Ten they'd have to hurdle to win the national championship."
"There's been a lot of action on USC. (5-to-1). They are really loaded, and there's not as much stiff competition in the Pac 12 as there is in the Big Ten."
Cambridge, Wis., native Matt Kenseth is given a much better chance – 10-to-1 odds -- of winning the Sprint Cup Series championship this season.
"He's right up there," Kornegay said. "He's always a fan favorite." Kenseth currently has had the fourth-highest total of bets behind Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick.
"Any of the top eight guys, anyone among them could win it. Kenseth has a lot of support. NASCAR fans are very loyal fans. They like a driver and that's it."
Madison's Steve Stricker, now perilously close to assuming the unwanted title of best golfer never to win a major, is listed at 10-to-1 to break through and take one of the sport's big four events this season and 40-to-1 to win next week at Augusta.
"I always root for him," Kornegay said. "He's such a solid golfer."
Kornegay says more money has been bet on this year's Masters tournament than on any event in PGA history. "And that was before Tiger started making his comeback. Now that he's back, watch out, here it comes."
LVH offers the most futures bets in Las Vegas, and they are popular.
"It's low risk, high reward," Kornegay said. "There are heavy odds out there that if you bet five dollars you could get a nice payoff."
Adventurous Wisconsin golf fans could take advantage of that scenario by betting on Menomonee Falls' Mark Wilson (35-to-1) or Madison's Jerry Kelly (100-to-1) to win a major in 2012.
But futures bets represent an extremely small portion of a sports book's business.
"Just today's NBA handle will be three times more than all of our futures bets," Kornegay said on Tuesday. "We'll have some very healthy five-figure NBA bets tonight."
But playing sports betting's futures market will always be irresistible to even the casual or less than casual fan.
"You never know when that long shot is going to hit," Kornegay said. "And everybody likes to have a dog in the fight."