Early Round Betting Trends
March 19, 2014
By Marc Lawrence
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The 2014 NCAA Tournament has arrived and with it a final chance to pad our bankrolls for the season.
To make that shining moment happen, let’s take a look at how teams in this event have fared most recently in the past.
Because it’s my belief that success in handicapping this tournament is tantamount to breaking the action down into rounds, let’s take a look at some of the more relevant and most recent trend results that have occurred in Round One games.
Note all results are since 1991 unless noted otherwise. Note: all results are ATS (Against The Spread) unless noted otherwise.
BILLION DOLLAR BRACKET BUSTING
If your dream of designs is completing the perfect bracket (read: picking every winner in every game and cashing in on a one billion prize), enjoy the dream.
You have a better chance of winning 50 Powerball lotteries in your lifetime!
Since expanding to 64 teams in 1985, the odds of randomly picking a perfect bracket sheet are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 – or better than one in nine quintillion.
Hint: you can reduce the odds to one in 13.5 billion simply by picking the No. 1 seeds over the No. 16 seeds and going from there. Now how’s that for putting you in the game.
Now that you’re feeling better about your chances, concentrate, instead on picking the Final Four teams. That’s 16 to the fourth power, or one in 65,536.
Incidentally, there have been only eight teams seeded lower than No. 6 to reach the Final Four since 1985: 1985 Evansville (8), 1986 LSU (11), 2000 North Carolina (8), 2000 Wisconsin (8), 2006 George Mason (11), 2011 Butler (8), 2011 VCU (11) and 2013 Wichita State (9).
For what it’s worth, Sheldon Jacobson, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, informs us the most likely Final Four seed combination is 1, 1, 2, 3. The odds against this occurring are about 16 to 1. It has happened three times in the past 28 years. Chalk artists beware: the odds of all four No.1 seeds reaching the Final Four: 47.5 to 1.
And long shot lovers note: the odds of a No. 16 seed reaching the Final Four: 828 to 1. The odds of all four No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four: about one trillion to 1.
PLANTING THE SEED
No. 1 seeds are 92-0 SU and 51-40-1 ATS vs. No. 16 seeds, including 8-1 ATS if favored by less than 20 points.
No. 2 seeds are 85-7 SU and 39-49-4 ATS vs. No. 15 seeds, including 13-26-4 ATS vs. foes off a SU win.
No. 3 seeds are 81-11 SU and 49-41-2 ATS vs. No. 14 seeds, including 36-1 SU & 27-9-1 ATS off a SU favorite loss.
No. 4 seeds are 72-20 SU and 52-29-1 ATS vs. No. 13 seeds, including 35-17 ATS as favorites of less than 10 points.
No. 5 seeds are 58-34 SU and 44-48 ATS vs. No. 12 seeds, including 10-9 SU and 9-12 ATS the last five years. In addition, No. 12 seeds that participated in last year’s event are 21-16 SU against No. 5’s dating back to 1985. Those No. 12 seeds who did not play in this tournament the previous season are 20-59 SU in this round. FYI: a No. 12 seed has failed to beat a No. 5 seed only twice since 1988.
No. 6 seeds are 63-29 SU and 50-40-2 ATS vs. No. 11 seeds, including 10-8 SU and 5-12-1 ATS vs. an opponent off an ATS win of more than 7 points.
No. 7 seeds are 52-40 SU and 49-42-1 ATS vs. No. 10 seeds, including 2-7 SU and ATS 1-7 ATS when the No. 10 seed is off back-to-back SU losses.
No. 8 seeds are 45-47 SU and 44-46-2 ATS vs. No. 9 seeds, including 9-16 SU and 8-17 ATS as favorites of 3 or more points.
FIRST ROUND NOTES
Conference tournament champs most recent trends in this round (numbers all ATS)
ACC: 4-1-1, Atlantic 10: 3-0, Big Ten: 3-0, Big 12: 0-4, Big East: 6-0, Big West: 1-7, Colonial: 8-4, C-USA: 2-5, Horizon: 4-2, MAC: 3-1, Missouri Valley: 3-1, Mountain West: 4-2-1, Pac-12: 51, Sun Belt: 4-1, SEC: 3-1, WAC: 2-6, West Coast: 1-3.
Best team records (SU) in this round:
N Carolina: 11-0, Kansas: 7-0, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Tulsa: 5-0; Arizona State, Ohio State: 4-0, Kentucky 18-1.
Worst team records (SU) in this round:
Best team ATS records in this round:
VCU: 6-0, Iowa State, Saint Louis, Xavier: 6-1, Florida: 5-1, Kansas State, Michigan, NC State: 4-1.
Worst team ATS records in this round:
Nebraska: 0-5, Massachusetts, Texas, Villanova: 0-3, Oregon: 1-7, Creighton: 1-4.
Best conference ATS records in this round:
Colonial: 5-1, Big Ten: 14-3, MAC dogs: 9-2, PAC 12 dogs: 7-2.
Worst conference ATS records in this round:
Big West: 1-6, Big East dogs: 1-4, Ivy: 3-12, Big 12: 4-11.
MOST RECENT ‘ANY ROUND’ TRENDS
Favorites of more than 7 points who are 3-0 SUATS last three games are 19-36 vs. opponent off a SU win… and 16-5 ATS vs. opponent off a SU loss.
Favorites of 20 or more points are 1-7-1 vs. an opponent off a DD SU win.
Favorites of more than 7 points who scored 100 points or more in their last tourney game are 12-2.
Underdogs of 4 or more points playing off a SU tourney win as a dog of 6 or more points are 10-30-1 ATS the last fifteen years.
Dogs of 18 or more points off a DD ATS win are 7-1.
If this is not enough to get your blood flowing then it’s time to visit a cardiologist.
I’ll return next week with a look at Sweet 16 and Elite Eight round action.
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