March Madness Odds: Some Soft First Round Numbers
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 3/17/2010
Seeing lesser-ranked teams being favored is nothing new to people who follow college basketball point spreads. During the regular season the hostile environment of a college basketball arena is usually enough to warrant a home standing unranked team being favored over a ranked team.
But in March Madness, when the selection committee looks over team’s resumes, their RPI, strength of schedule, quality wins, quality losses and everything else before determining seeding, you would think the higher ranked teams are the better teams, especially when the games are going on at neutral courts. However, that is not the case all the times. There are always instances when a lower-seeded team is favored over its higher-seeded counterpart and not just in the 8/9 or 7/10 matchups.
Over the last few years the lower-seeded favorite has dominated the competition. More than at any other time during the sporting year March Madness is where the oddsmakers flex their muscles over the other so-called “experts”.
Last year three lower-seeded teams were favored and combined they went 2-1 SU and 2-1 ATS, including No. 12 Arizona (-1.5) winning handily, 84-71, over No. 5 Utah. No. 10 USC was a 2-point favorite and it cruised, 72-55, over No. 7 Boston College.
This year only No. 9 Florida (-1.5) over No.8 Gonzaga and No. 11 Minnesota (-1) over No. 6 Xavier are favored over their higher-seeded counterparts. But there are a number of curious lines that have an equally strong trend.
Last season in the first round when a double-digit seed was an underdog of less than six points, it went 4-2 SU (a very, very impressive number) and 5-1 ATS. Three of the four No. 12 seeds were getting less than six points and all three, Western Kentucky, Arizona and Wisconsin, won outright over their No. 5-seeded opponent. This season the oddsmakers are leaning even more heavily towards the No. 12 seeds. Three of them are only underdogs of three points or less.
No. 12 UTEP is +2.5 vs. Butler, No. 12 Cornell is +3.5 vs. Temple and No. 12 Utah State is +3 vs. Texas A&M. All three of those underdogs are extremely attractive bets considering their situations.
Other point spreads that are going against conventional wisdom with the seeds include No. 13 Siena +4 vs. No. 4 Purdue, No. 13 Murray St. +2.5 vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 11 Old Dominion +2 vs. No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 11 Washington +1.5 vs. No. 6 Marquette and No. 11 San Diego State +3 vs. No. 6 Tennessee.
These lines are some of the strongest indicators in the tournament and the past has shown that. Since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1995 No. 12 seeds are 34-66 SU, No. 11 seeds are 31-69 SU, No. 10 seeds are 39-61 SU and No. 9 seeds have a winning record over at 54-46 SU over No. 8 seeds. Those are hardly records that warrant a team being seeded one, three, five or seven seeds below another team.
When one of those lower-seed teams who is only getting a few points wins on Thursday or Friday, the studio analysts will be screaming ‘upset!’ while everyone in Las Vegas will be screaming ‘we told you so’.
Most Recent March Madness Betting
- Free NCAA Tournament Betting Picks for Final Four
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: South Region
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: Midwest Region
- 2021 March Madness Handicapping: No. 5 vs. No. 12 Seeds
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: East Region
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: West Region
- 2021 March Madness Prop Bets and Predictions
- 2021 NCAA March Madness Betting Tips
- 2021 NCAA Tournament Facts
- 2021 NCAA Tournament Bracket Advice and Tips