As March approaches, basketball fans around the world eagerly anticipate the NCAA Tournament, with its 67 games featuring the top college squads in the country. From buzzer beaters to unbelievable upsets, the road to the Final Four is paved with excitement and fun. However, with a plethora of betting markets available, some fans may struggle to find value picks amidst the chaos.
March Madness betting is unlike traditional basketball games due to the high-stakes tournament format and the presence of top programs in the NCAA. To help fans make smarter and more profitable bets, we have created a dedicated guide to March Madness betting.
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Be Aware of Trusted March Madness Trends
Since the inception of the tournament in 1939, basketball fans have had access to a wealth of analysis and data. However, not all statistics are equally valuable when it comes to NCAA Tournament profits. As you prepare for the 2023 edition of the tournament, you will likely encounter numerous Big Dance betting trends. But below, we will present the worthy ones that have stood the test of time.
Adjusted defensive efficiency is a key statistic to consider when it comes to the Final Four. It’s calculated by multiplying points allowed per 100 possessions by the national average defensive efficiency and dividing by the opponents’ offensive efficiency.
Since 2012, the following trends have emerged:
- Only one Final Four team ranked outside the Top 40 in adjusted defensive efficiency: Kansas in 2018.
- Of the 32 national semifinal teams, only 16 ranked in the Top 10 in this metric.
- Of the 32 national semifinal squads, only 9 ranked in the Top 3 in this metric.
- In the 2019 Final Four, Texas Tech ranked first in adjusted defensive efficiency, followed by Virginia (5), Michigan State (9), and Auburn (36th).
So, when considering spreads, ML, and odds to win the championship, keep an eye on teams with elite adjusted defensive efficiency.
No. 1 vs. No. 16 Seeds
As you may know, No. 16 seeds have never beaten a No. 1 seed in the history of the championship. However, in recent years, some matchups have been much closer than expected. In fact, since 2017, No. 1 seeds are just 8-4 ATS against No. 16 seeds in the opening round.
And in 2018, top-seeded Virginia famously fell to 16th-seeded UMBC in the first round, making history as the first No. 16 seed to ever win a game in the tournament. Thus, it’s worth keeping in mind when making your picks: don’t just blindly wager on No. 1 seeds over lower-caliber teams.
Experienced Players & Coaches
Without any doubt, head college basketball coaches play a significant role in the success of their teams during the madness of March. They have control over recruiting players and implementing a system that fits their strategy.
Experienced players and coaches in the Big Game tend to be more reliable than upstart teams full of freshmen when it comes to capping spreads and totals. As a result, keep an eye on the coaching staff when making your March Madness predictions.
Other Things to Look For
In addition to betting stats and data, there are several other crucial factors to consider when making successful bets. Here are some of the most important ones:
Understand Your Betting Strategy
To increase your chances of making successful wagers during the madness of March, get to know your preferred betting strategy. Will you focus on futures, money lines, spread betting, totals, or props? The latter options, by the way, are becoming increasingly popular and offer a wide range of options, such as:
- Seed props (first No. 1 seed to lose)
- Tournament props (sum of the Final Four seed numbers)
- Round props (when teams will be eliminated)
- Player props (tournament MVP)
For instance, we are excited to take advantage of the First to 5 prop. But the key here is to identify what you’re good at and what interests you the most.
Mind the Early Upsets
Upsets are a common practice in the early phases of March Madness. However, it’s important to avoid picking too many upsets in the First Round as mid-majors have become weaker in recent years. Instead, focus on teams from better conferences when selecting potential upsets. It may be wiser to target upsets in the Second Round or Sweet 16, which can make a significant difference in the success of your bracket.
Focus on the Matchups
In the end, it’s important to focus on the individual matchups rather than relying solely on seeding or historical data. Don’t get too caught up in past trends, such as how No. 5 teams have fared against No. 12 seeds. Each game is unique, so it’s crucial to analyze the teams and their strengths and weaknesses. Keep it simple and base your bets on the matchup analysis.