March Madness Betting Trends & Stats For The Round of 64Noah Williams
This is a breakdown of the March Madness betting trends for the first round of the tournament. Of course, they won’t perfectly forecast the mayhem that we anticipate on March 20th, 2014 when this year’s gauntlet of gambling slams in to our faces but they’ll help lead you in a stronger direction. And if this seems overwhelming…remember that these trends and stats are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to March Madness betting.
We all know that the sixteen seed has never beaten the top seed in the region, so there’s no point in mentioning it. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in upsets. Over the past three years, the best strategy for the first round is to hammer the dogs on the moneyline. Over the past three seasons, the dogs who have covered the spread have also won the game straight up 62.7% of the time. So how do you angle this? Simple – find the underdog covers you like and make side plays on the dogs to win straight up as well. In most cases you’ll pull dead even and in other instances you’ll double your pleasure while insulating yourself from too much overall risk.
Getting back to the whole 1-vs-16 scenario, the March Madness betting trends don’t offer as much hope you might like. The gap between contenders and castaways is getting smaller, as is evident with schools like Wichita State and Davidson emerging from nowhere in recent years. And in 2013, two 16 seeds nearly toppled the top seeds as Western Kentucky lost by 7 points against Kansas, while Gonzaga barely outlasted Southern by six measly points. I’m not suggesting that we’re in store for a 16th seed upset this year, but I am suggesting that the lines on these matchups are worth staying away from. A team with literally nothing to lose is always a dangerous variable duringMarch Madness.
So where do March Madness betting trends lead us in the other seed matchups? Up until 2012, no 15th seed had ever beaten a second seed. That all changed when Norfolk upended Missouri and Lehigh blasted Duke. Then in 2013, Florida Gulf Coast (remember them?) alley-ooped their way past Georgetown. The current crop of second seeds includes Wisconsin, Duke, Villanova and Syracuse. Do you think any of them are due to lose straight up? It’s been a better flier bet than most have expected in the last two years. You just have to get lucky with the lottery in the 2-vs-15 matchup when betting underdogs.
The best spread betting matchup actually belongs to the 3-vs-14 slots where the higher ranked team has won 73% of the time. That’s a March Madness betting trend you can hang your hat on. There was a straight up underdog win last year when Harvard beat New Mexico, but those that knew anything about the Ivy League Champs understood that the Crimson weren’t to be taken lightly. The handful of teams in the hunt for the 14th seeds this year don’t have that same appeal.
The best place to take risks with underdog victories is actually in the 4-vs-13 matchup because there’s been at least one upset in each of the last 13 years outside of 2007. Last year it was La Salle thwarting Kansas State on the final play. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a crapshoot in general. The 4th seed has also beaten the 13th seed 79% of the time and covered in 68% of the games over the past 10 years. People love to pump up the 4-vs-13 matchup as the “underdog mine field” but it’s actually a much more dangerous play than people estimate.
The best overall betting value in the first round has historically belonged to the 10th seed covering against the 7th, which pays out around 72% of the time. The 11th seed covering against the 6th also holds a moderately generous return on 62% of the matchups in the last five years. As you’d expect, the 8-vs-9 matchup is the tightest of the bunch.
All of these numbers, percentages and stats are enough to make your nose bleed. But they do help when gauging the betting board at the big dance. Stay tuned to this space for more March Madness betting trends as we inch closer to the best time to gamble on basketball games that exists.