2013 NCAA Tournament Props Odds and Betting Picks
by Alan Matthews - 3/20/2013
It’s time to buckle down and enjoy the ride as -- in my opinion -- the next three weeks or so are the best of the betting year. You can have your NFL Playoffs, but I'll take the NCAA Tournament Major League Baseball futures props and Opening Day and then the Masters.
There are, of course, hundreds of props on March Madness, but I'll share a few that I feel the most strongly about. I think my favorite prop on BetOnline is the combined sum of the seeds to reach the Final Four at 11.5, with the “over” at -130 and the “under” at even. I love the over (the total is an even better 10.5 at Bovada). All you need is one No. 11 seed like VCU in 2011 or George Mason in 2006 and you are a winner here. Shoot, even a No. 8 like a Butler reaching like it did in 2011 makes you a winner as long as the other three aren't No. 1 seeds. Last year the combined totals of the seeds was nine. The year before it was a whopping 26. In 2010 it was 13.
I don't believe there is any overpowering team in this year's field like Kentucky last year or North Carolina in 2009. Thus, I fully expect some parity in terms of seeds reaching Atlanta. It wouldn't surprise me at all if teams like No. 8 UNC, No. 10 Colorado, No. 11 Belmont or No. 12 Oregon made it that far. If one does or at a similar seed, you are going to win that over bet.
The winning seed number is 2.5, with under the -155 favorite, and I like that a lot as well. Yes, upsets happen in the first two rounds, but usually the power teams win it all. Since Arizona won it all in 1997 as a No. 4, no team worse than a No. 3 has done so. A No. 1 has done it in five of the past six years. Sportsbook.ag has the combined seeds for the finals at 4.5 with under -135, and I'd lean there as well. 5Dimes has a prop on whether a No. 10-16 seed reaches the finals at a long-shot +950. Don't waste your money as the worst to do so is a No. 8. A No. 1 or No. 2 seed winning is -175, and that has to be the choice.
I don't think there's any doubt that the Big Ten is the best conference this year, although it's hard to believe that it has had just one National Champion since 1990: Michigan State in 2000. 5Dimes has a Big Ten team as the champion at +240 with the field at -280. I would take the Big Ten because you have four shots in my mind: Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan. Meanwhile, the Big East is +290 and really your only chances there are Louisville (I am not sold on the Cards like everyone else -- you can get Louisville at -320 to not reach the NCAA title game) and Georgetown (sorry Marquette and Syracuse). How bad is the Pac-12 these days? That pays out at +4000 to have a champion. I might have bitten if UCLA star freshman guard Jordan Adams wasn't out with a broken foot. Sportsbook.ag has the total number of Big Ten wins in the tournament at over/under 13. Take over there because I believe five of them could reach the Sweet 16.
A few other cool props on 5Dimes: a power conference team (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) wins it: “yes” -550, “no” +425. Those '90 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were the last non-power conference team to win it, so that's a huge yes. An at-large team winning it at -125 or an automatic bid team at -105. That's a really interesting one. On the automatic bid among the power conferences you are banking on Miami, Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas, Oregon and Ole Miss. That's a strong group, but I would lean toward at-large.
How about the winning state on BetOnline? Florida is the +300 favorite with the No. 2 Hurricanes and No. 3 Gators (sorry Florida Gulf Coast). Recent history says to take a school in the Eastern Time Zone. Kentucky and Indiana are next at +400. I might roll the dice on North Carolina at +600 because you get Duke, the Tar Heels and a very talented NC State team -- also Davidson -- that would be very dangerous if it ever played consistently. Michigan also is solid value at +800.
You have to like the Midwest Region to be crowned the champion at +200 on BetOnline, but probably would take the field at -145 against Louisville (+125) to win the Midwest. I also like no on a No. 14 or No. 15 seed winning a second-round game at +140 on Sportsbook.ag, with yes at -180. Only six times has a No. 15 beaten a No. 2, albeit twice last year. Sixteen times a No. 14 has beaten a No. 3, but not since 2010. All the No. 2s this year should coast, and the only No. 3 I think has a minor chance of losing is Marquette against Davidson.
Finally, my NCAA Tournament pick is Duke against Indiana, which is +2500 on 5Dimes as the exact matchup. The winner? Well, you'll just have to wait on that one.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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