The first weekend of the NCAA tournament is well-known for the pandemonium it produces on the court. But the onslaught of games and the bevy of down-to-the-wire endings keep activity high in Las Vegas's sports books, as well.
For proof, look no further than the scene in the MGM's betting parlor on Friday morning, just before the start of the second day of games. Bettors lined up 500-deep to stake their money on a slate of games that often left brackets busted — and dreams dashed.
Perhaps they were there to bet on the Kentucky team of coach John Calipari, who is 23-14 against the spread and covers more than 62% of the time. Maybe they were there because they had faith in Belmont, who have covered the spread in six straight games. Maybe they were so early because they wanted to get to the March Madness party at the Wynn before all the good seats were taken.
Whatever their reason for coming, none of them could predict what the day had in store for them. "With two minutes to go, everything is on the number," said Jimmy Vaccaro, the head of the South Point sports book. "Anything can happen. That's what makes this so exciting."
- Christopher Woody