Maybe Drake isn’t a March Madness underdog after all.
The Bulldogs (25-4) are an 11 seed in the West bracket and will face old conference foe Wichita State (16-5) in the First Four on Thursday night. Tip-off is 5:27 p.m. at Mackey Arena, home of the Purdue Boilermakers.
TBS will carry the game.
The Shockers were a 2-point favorite at DraftKings immediately after the pairings were announced, but Drake has moved into the favored role at -1.5. The sportsbook places the current total at 141, which is consistent with the Selection Sunday total of 140.5.
The numbers will shift, so keep checking back with PlayIA.com for the latest March Madness odds.
Drake March Madness odds
The odds shifted at FanDuel as well. John Sheeran, FanDuel’s director of risk and trading, said on Tuesday:
“We opened Drake is a slight underdog in that game — we had them on the moneyline as a +116 underdog against Wichita State. And to be fair, most of the money that we’ve seen in that game so far has been for Drake — at least the sharper money. And we’re basically at a pick ’em now in that game of -108 on both sides.”
About 24 hours after FanDuel talked with PlayIA.com, the line moved even further in Drake’s direction. Sheeran anticipated the shift and thinks the Bulldogs will remain a slight favorite when the game tips Thursday night:
“The public is a little bit more heavy on Wichita State, but definitely with the sharper play, I’ve seen Drake move from that +116 that we opened at.”
Did Drake deserve the final bid?
Sheeran said Drake’s inclusion in the field of 68 was “absolutely no major shock” from FanDuel’s perspective. The risk and trading director ran through hypothetical matchups with the Selection Committee’s “first four out” teams.
As we mentioned above, the sportsbook likes the Bulldogs over Wichita State:
- “On our numbers, we would have Drake as a favorite against Louisville by about 1.5 points.”
- “More like a 4-point favorite against Colorado State.”
- “The Ole Miss matchup probably would have been very close to pick ’em.”
- “And St. Louis, we would have Drake as a slight underdog — somewhere around +1.5 to +2 is roughly what our numbers say about where Drake would have lined up.”
“The committee went with them. So we don’t have a major issue with that decision at all,” Sheeran concluded.
Betting on Drake beyond the final score
Sportsbooks in Iowa expand betting options to capture the excitement of March Madness.
At William Hill Sportsbook, Drake is -1.5 with a total of 141 for the game. But, you can also bet on a first-half moneyline (Drake -120, Wichita State +100 on Wednesday) or second-half total points (over 74.5 is -105, under 74.5 is -115).
About Wichita State
They’re in different conferences now, but Drake and Wichita State are old rivals.
No team has played the Shockers more than the Bulldogs — the teams met 151 times in a series that dates back to 1937. Wichita State left the Missouri Valley Conference for the American Athletic Conference in the summer of 2017.
Wichita State coach Isaac Brown said:
“When we played in the Missouri Valley Conference, there were teams that played slow down basketball. They wanted to execute, they wanted to make it a half-court game, they ran a lot of motion. This team, Drake, they play like teams do in the American. They try to beat you off the dribble with the dribble drive. They play a lot of one-on-one. They’ve got guards that can get into the paint and create for themselves, can create for others. So they’re kind of like teams in American and they look to dribble drive, beat you off the bounce and try to score a lot of baskets. They are high-scoring basketball team.”
Sophomore guard Tyson Etienne averages 17.1 points for the Shockers. He topped 20 points in 10 of Wichita State’s 21 games. Senior guard Alterique Gilbert is second at 10.3 ppg. The Shockers won the AAC regular-season title with an 11-2 league record.
Drake is 12th in the nation in scoring efficiency and shoots 49.4% from the floor. MVC “Sixth Man of the Year” Joseph Yesufu has averaged 23.7 ppg over his last six games. Drake notes the First Four matchup comes 50 years to the day of the Bulldogs’ last NCAA Tournament win.
Coach Darian DeVries said:
“I think it’s an exciting matchup. They’re a very talented team, and they’ve always had good teams.”
The winner of Thursday’s First Four game will face No. 6 seed USC at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Sportsbooks in Iowa have a wide range of promotions to capture the excitement of March Madness. Take some time to make picks before the first round begins on Friday.