Normally when the NFL season ends, as this past one just did on February 4 with a Super Bowl 52 win by the Philadelphia Eagles, sports bettors turn their focus to the NBA and college basketball. However, this year there’s another option for a few weeks before March Madness hits: The Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Games run through Sunday, February 25; just don’t expect to see much live coverage of events on NBC or any of its sister networks as Pyeongchang is 14 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.
Usually, the biggest Winter Olympics betting draw is the men’s ice hockey competition, but this year’s has lost a lot of luster because the NHL is not sending its players to the Games. It had done so every Olympics since 1998 and it made for some scintillating hockey. Why not this year? Long story short: Money.
Thanks to star-studded lineups, Team Canada won the past two Olympic gold medals in the sport but is a +275 second-favorite this time behind the Olympic Athletes from Russia (+225) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The country of Russia has been banned in the wake of a doping scandal, but individual athletes can compete under that OAR banner. No Russian national anthem will be played for any gold medal winner from the country.
The reason the OAR is favored in hockey is because the world’s second-best professional league, the KHL, is in that country so the OAR’s roster will have several former NHL players. Team USA is +900. It hasn’t won gold in the sport since the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid in 1980. The American women, however, have been a powerhouse for years and are -120 favorites on those Winter Olympics odds. Team Canada has won the past four gold medals and is even money. It would be an upset if those rivals don’t meet in the gold medal game.
The co-favored countries to win the most medals overall are Norway and Germany at +175. The Norwegians were third at the 2014 Sochi Olympics with 26 medals behind host Russia with 29 (country not a betting option this time) and the USA with 28. A host country often gets a huge medal boost – the Republic of Korea is at +5000.
Team USA is +400 to lead the medals table. The Americans have won the second-most Winter Olympic medals all-time with 282, behind Norway’s 329. The Americans are given an over/under of 10.5 gold medals won in Pyeongchang; Team USA took home nine golds four years ago.
For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.