It may not have been what Russian composer Igor Stravinsky had in mind when he composed the ballet and orchestral concert “The Rite of Spring” but that’s what it has become for millions of people, not just basketball fans, across the country with the tip of the NCAA Basketball Tournament also known as “March Madness”. I guarantee you in every office in the country right now there is at least one person scribbling then erasing, and then scribbling again, as he/she fills out all 67 lines. In fact, now it has been documented that approximately 50 million office workers will be filling out brackets this year and more than 10 billion will be wagered. Moreover, the $295 million expected to be bet at Nevada casinos is more than the 138.4 billion gambled at Super bowl LI according to David Purdum of ESPN.com.
Ok, so we’re all playing. With that said, we wanted to give you our insights because to say we’re into it would be a huge understatement as we’ve been documenting and posting all year and we’re ready to take down the brackets of those who watch about as often as they go to church, which is usually twice a year, at Christmas and Easter.
First off, over the past five years a five-seed has beaten a twelve. In fact overall they are 10-10 so you have a 50% chance of getting it right if you have that upset in the first round and our choices for that 5-10 upset this year are Middle Tennessee State going up against Big Ten Champions Minnesota, and UNC-Wilmington vs. Virginia from the ACC. Both of these teams should have been ranked a little higher but the power conferences ownership of the lower seeds may push them down the bracket but it doesn’t change the fact that these are not teams you expect or want to see in the first round. Lastly, for you bettors favored No. 5 seeds have gone just 11-21 ATS in the first round since 2009.
Next, despite the ostentatious numbers of 0-128 a sixteen has never and will never beat a one-seed anytime soon, and to be honest with ya, it would take a team that had major injuries to at least two players that come back right before the tournament, and they would have to be NBA caliber players. You get the gist, not going to happen this year.
Lastly, the last time all four top seeds made it to the Final Four was 2008 and that was a year when all four of those schools had at least two NBA players in the starting lineup and we just don’t see it this year so don’t count on ‘Nova, the Zags, KU, and NC arriving in the desert at the same time. That’s why we like one top-seed (Villanova), 2 number two-seeds (‘Zona and Louisville)and one three-seed (UCLA) to make the Final Four with………………………………………..UCLA taking down the nets for the first time since 95’.
For the book bettors only …….
It’s a mantra that applies to all sports, but it’s an especially wise rule of thumb in March: Think long and hard about backing an underdog that’s getting a lot of attention from the betting public.
As noted by David Solar of Sports Insights, NCAA tournament underdogs that get more than 50 percent of the spread action have gone just 82-105 ATS since 2005. And if those trendy underdogs are getting less than 10 points while receiving a majority of the spread bets, they’ve gone just 68-95 ATS.
Here are some of the more heavily bet underdogs as of Tuesday morning (Sports Insights offers bet percentages here). The bolded underdogs are getting single digits and thus perhaps should get even extra scrutiny: Virginia Tech (+5.5), Bucknell (+14), UNC Wilmington (+7.5), East Tennessee State (+10), Florida Gulf Coast (+12), Winthrop (+11), Marquette (+1.5), Seton Hall (+1), New Mexico State (+12.5) and Rhode Island (+1).
In the first and second round of the NCAA tournament, favorites getting less than 50 percent of the spread bets have gone 73-51 ATS since 2005.
Breaking down 8the matchups, unpopular No. 4 seeds have been good plays of late. Those fourth-seeded teams that have received less than 50 percent of the betting action gone 8-1 ATS since 2005. So perhaps pay particular attention to Florida, Butler and West Virginia: All three of those fourth-seeded teams were getting less than 50 percent of the action as of Tuesday morning.