There are a handful of teams in this year's NCAA Tournament that were virtual ATMs for bettors during the regular season and conference tournaments. Can these teams continue to turn a profit in the Big Dance? Conversely, there are teams with good enough resumes to participate in March Madness that consistently struggled to beat the number. Let's take a closer look.
Best Tournament Teams Versus the Spread
Seton Hall (25-8 SU, 22-9-1 ATS)
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The Pirates have an amazing 75.8 percent winning percentage against the spread this season, which is easily the highest in the tournament. While winning the Big East Tournament, Seton Hall was a perfect 3-0 ATS, and that includes straight up wins as an underdog against Xavier and Villanova. Six-seed Seton Hall opens the tourney against No. 11 Gonzaga on Thursday. The Pirates opened as a two-point underdog, but that has since been bet down to plus-one or even a pick'em at some shops.
Michigan State (29-5 SU, 22-11 ATS)
The Spartans are 13-1 SU in their last 14 games and have gone 12-2 ATS during that span. The two ATS losses just occurred in the Big Ten Tournament: a 64-61 straight up win against Maryland as a 5-point favorite and 66-62 SU win against Purdue, also as a 5-point favorite. The Spartans have been virtually unbeatable since do-everything guard Denzel Valentine returned from injury. Michigan State opens as an 18-point favorite against Middle Tennessee State on Friday.
Saint Joseph's (27-7 SU, 22-11 ATS)
Saint Joseph's has beaten the spread in 66.7 percent of its games this season and just went 3-0 ATS while winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Two of those straight up wins came as an underdog (Dayton, VCU). The Hawks boast a pair of blue-chip performers in Atlantic 10 Player of the Year DeAndre Bembry (16.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.5 apg) and forward Isaiah Miles (18.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg), so don't be surprised if St. Joe's makes some noise this week. They open on Friday as a 1.5-point underdog against Cincinnati.
Kansas (30-4 SU, 21-11 ATS)
The Jayhawks are the most complete team in the tournament, and that's reflected big time by their seasonal records both straight up and against the spread. Kansas has cashed for bettors 64.5 percent of the time this season. The Jayhawks have also gone 5-2 ATS at neutral sites. Kansas is very efficient on both ends of the court, has a consistent inside presence in Perry Ellis and its top five scorers all shoot over 40 percent from 3-point range. The pressure of the NCAA's isn't likely to have much effect, either, as this team features talented upper classmen that have been there and done that. They also have something to prove. The Jayhawks open Thursday as a 26.5-point favorite over Austin Peay.
Other profitable NCAA tournament teams: West Virginia (26-8 SU, 21-11 ATS), VCU (24-10 SU, 20-11 ATS), Arkansas-Little Rock (29-4 SU, 19-10 ATS), Wisconsin-Green Bay (23-12 SU, 20-10-3 ATS), Wichita State (24-8 SU, 18-11-1 ATS), Fresno State (25-9 SU, 18-13 ATS), Cal State Bakersfield (24-8 SU, 11-3 ATS).
Worst Tournament Teams Against the Spread
Stony Brook (26-6 SU, 0-5-1 ATS)
Stony Brook earned its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the American East Conference. It's been a story book season for the Seawolves, but for betting purposes the real story is how they have yet to cover the spread this season. It's a smaller sample size, of course, as the AEC doesn't get much attention from bookmakers, but it's still a red flag. In the AEC Tournament, Stony Brook failed to beat the number in wins against Maryland Baltimore County and Hartford and then pushed with Vermont in the championship game. The Seawolves open Thursday against Kentucky as a 14.5-point underdog.
Oklahoma (25-7 SU, 12-18 ATS)
Oklahoma's fine season was punctuated by spending three weeks atop the AP poll beginning in mid-January. But while Buddy Hield and the Sooners were racking up straight-up victories, they were a money pit for bettors. That trend continued on through the Big 12 Tournament. Oklahoma, which was eliminated in the semifinals by West Virginia, has lost its last five games versus the spread. Additionally, the Sooners were just 2-4 ATS at a neutral site. It wouldn't surprise to see Oklahoma make a deep run in the tournament-they are that good-but it's probably wise to tread lightly at the betting windows. The Sooners open on Friday against Cal State Bakersfield as a 14.5-point favorite.
Other losing tournament versus the spread: Cincinnati (22-10 SU, 14-16 ATS), Arizona (25-8 SU, 16-17 ATS). Gonzaga (26-7 SU, 14-16-2 ATS)
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