The NCAA Tournament offers one of the most unique betting experiences of the year. From 12 hours of almost non-stop action during the opening weekend to buzzer-beaters and Cinderella stories, there’s no shortage of intrigue.
But the volume of games and data that oddsmakers have on each team make the NCAA Tournament really tough to bet on at times. We’re here to help.
2018 NCAA Tournament early betting picks
Nevada -1.5 vs. Texas
Nevada handles the ball really well — third-best turnover rate in the country. That can mitigate Texas’s defensive advantages. Texas doesn’t shoot the 3-ball well either, which it will need to make a run in this tournament. Take the Wolfpack -1.5.
Stephen F. Austin +12 vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech is a little overseeded at 3, and SFA has all the makings of an upset-minded team. They can shoot 3’s and play aggressive defense (they force the most turnovers in the country). Texas Tech is excellent defensively as well, but this game should stay inside 12.
Wichita State-Marshall OVER
The total isn’t out yet, but bet the over. Not matter what. Just kidding. But not really.
2018 NCAA Tournament betting tips, trends
Beware of the trendy underdog
Casual sports bettors that emerge from the shadows during March Madness almost always like favorites. It’s a psychological thing.
But as soon as the public starts to back a trendy underdog, run. Sports Insights noted last year that underdogs getting the majority of bets from the public were 82-105 against the spread since 2005 (entering the 2017 tourney). That’s just a 43 percent win rate.
Best coaches ATS in the tournament
- Chris Mack, Xavier (12-4)
- John Beilein, Michigan (15-7)
- Sean Miller, Arizona (18-10)
- Gregg Marshall, Wichita State (12-7)
- Matt Painter, Purdue (12-7)
Best against the spread teams in 2018
- Michigan (22-11-1)
- Villanova (22-12)
- Virginia (21-8-1)
- Xavier (21-12)
- USC (21-13)
- Duke (20-11)
- Marshall (20-11)
- Montana (19-11-1)
- San Diego State (19-9)
- Loyola Chicago (19-9-1)
The 12-5 upset is real against the spread, too
Oddsmakers don’t look too much into trends, because the sample size is so small. But the 12-seed upset has been a casual bracket picker’s favorite for a long time.
Since 2009, No. 12 seeds are a stellar 24-12 against the spread.
Best over teams
- Villanova (23 overs, 11 unders)
- TCU (21-10)
- Wichita State (20-10)
- Montana (19-12)
- Seton Hall (19-12)
- Buffalo (19-12)
- Kentucky (19-13)
- Butler (19-13)
- UNC (19-15)
- Penn (17-10)
Best under teams
- St. Mary’s (21 unders, 7 overs, 1 push)
- CS Fullerton (19-8)
- Ohio State (21-9)
- Virginia (20-10)
- OK State (19-10-1)
- USC (22-10-1)
- Cincinnati (19-10)
- Tennessee (18-12)
- Alabama (21-12)
- UNC Greensboro (16-11)
8-9 underdogs own the first round
Eh, the 8-9. The winner will just get beat by the No. 1 seed in the next round, so it’s not worth paying attention to. Wrong!
The underdog in the 8-9 games is 22-10-3 ATS in the first round since 2009. The lines are normally tight since the teams are evenly matched, but if you can get a few points on the dog, take them.
Be careful during the day
Ex-oddsmaker Todd Fuhrman put it well. Betting day basketball is like going to the strip club late at night — it seems exciting at the time, but if you’re not careful with your money, you’ll end up broke and with a lot of regrets the next day.
Every winning bet counts the same. $100 on the Super Bowl counts the same as $100 on a WNBA preseason game. Don’t force action on the NCAA Tournament just because there are games during the game. Handicap games, pick your spots and only play a game if you feel like you have an edge.
10 best offenses, per KenPom.com
- Wichita State
- Michigan State
10 best defenses
- Texas Tech
- Michigan State
- Texas A&M