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Coronavirus odds: Sports leagues suspend play, will March Madness be canceled?

March Madness coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to spread across both the United States and the entire globe, you can bet the sports leagues will continue to be affected.

The SARS-like coronavirus, named COVID-19, started in Wuhan, China, and has since spread worldwide. At the time of writing, there are 127,863 confirmed cases and 4,718 deaths from the coronavirus, according to the global map from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

The National Basketball Association announced Wednesday night the league is suspending all games for the 2019-20 NBA season until further notice after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

Major League Soccer followed today, according to the press release: “Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials.”

Both Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League are expected to make announcements on Thursday regarding suspended play as well.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has said March Madness 2020, for both the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments, will be played but won’t allow fans to attend the games.

There is mounting pressure for the NCAA to suspend the tournament after officials from the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic on Wednesday, March 11.

While betting on March Madness 2020 might be off the table, the oddsmakers at online sportsbooks are letting you get in on the action for whether the month-long college basketball tournament will be canceled.

Will March Madness be canceled?

College Basketball Specials from Bovada

  • Yes -240
  • No +175

*Graded Winner: The 2020 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament must be called off in its entirety regardless of its progression for “Yes” to be graded as a win. The championship event must take place for “No” to be graded as a win. Re-scheduled event(s) and/or empty arenas alone will not be considered grounds for cancellation. Any wagers placed on the same day news becomes public knowledge will be deemed void.


UPDATE: Late last night, the NCAA formally called off March Madness, and there will be no men’s college basketball champion for the 2020 season. Lucky bettors who took the “Yes” are enjoying a decent payday, though it will be their last one for collegiate hoops this year. And so much for those office bracket parties! The rest of the article is preserved below for posterity.


Currently, the oddsmakers at Bovada sportsbook predict March Madness will be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yes” is listed at -240 odds, meaning a $2.40 wager would win $1 if the NCAA outright cancels March Madness 2020. Based on the implied probability, the oddsmakers believe there is a 67.17% chance this year’s Big Dance is called off.

On the flip side, “No” is posted at +175 odds, and $1 wins $1.75 if the 2020 NCAA men’s basketball championship game is not played this year, giving it a 32.83% implied probability.

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas told USA Today on Thursday that believes there’s no way the NCAA will host the tourney.

“If I am the NCAA president, you postpone the NCAA tournament or cancel it altogether,” Bilas told USA Today. “This is a worldwide pandemic and something that could overwhelm our healthcare system. This is bigger than basketball, bigger than sports. I just don’t see how we play. If we do, I’d like to hear someone make a case for why.”

“If it were up to me, I wouldn’t play a conference tournament,” he added.

Several conferences have already begun canceling the remaining regular season and conference tournaments that were taking place this week to determine the 68-team field for March Madness, which is still scheduled to tip-off on Tuesday, March 17.

Betting on college basketball aside, there is a strong chance the NCAA does not go through with the tournament or at least suspends it until further notice. Without conference championships, the field can’t be seeded on Selection Sunday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunities to bet on sports legally are sure to be limited due to many of the sports leagues making the correct call to suspend play in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

Our recommended online sportsbooks also have Las Vegas-style casino games and live poker available. Without any sporting events for the foreseeable future, the betting sites are your best bet to have some fun at home until the coronavirus pandemic is over.

To learn how you can prevent COVID-19 from spreading, please visit the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.

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