Sweet 16 March Madness Betting Advice 2019
If we could go back in time just a couple of days, we would know how to make money in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament without any risk or losses. All 16 betting favorites won their games - an unprecedented event in this era - so betting the favorites on the moneyline would have created some serious profits. Those favorites won only 21 of the 32 opening-round games, though, so the profits weren't nearly as impressive using the same approach then. And while the favorites were an excellent 11-5 ATS in round two, they were an ugly 12-20 ATS in the opening games. So, we should probably look for slightly more sophisticated approaches to making money on the second weekend of the tournament than just backing the favorites. Here is some Sweet 16 March Madness betting advice for you:
Don't trust the public: One of the most reliably consistent and straightforward approaches to handicapping the NCAA Tournament has been to fade the betting public when they have a strong opinion. The public makes picks based more on emotion and hype than sound reasoning. If two-thirds of the public goes one way, I always like to look hard at the other way in the tournament, and again this year that worked out well. Teams that drew less than a third of public bets so far in the tournament have gone a strong 5-2 ATS.
It's a best of one: People like to draw big meaning from the games they have seen so far, but that is very often a big mistake. It's just one game, and anything can happen in a game like that. Just take the Duke-UCF game for example. It would be really easy to draw the conclusion from that game that Duke is in trouble - and many people have. But UCF got 32 points in an insane career game from Aubrey Dawkins. That wouldn't happen again. So, Duke almost lost to UCF - and probably should have - but if the teams played 10 times Duke is going to win a significant majority of them - and by more than a single point.
It is way too easy to draw conclusions from a single game that just don't hold up to scrutiny. You need to have perspective. And, as importantly, you need to be sure that you don't panic when something goes your way. If your handicapping led you to bet on Duke, and you worked hard on the handicapping, then you didn't do a bad job - things just didn't go your way that particular day.
It's easier to carry sand than momentum: Ever tried to carry a big pile of sand in your hands? How'd that go for you? Murray State reminded us yet again that carrying momentum from one game to the next in this tournament is brutally tough to do. In their opener against Marquette, they looked incredible. Ja Morant was spectacular, and the team looked like one about to launch a very deep run. But just two days later they looked very ordinary. And totally out of place. Florida State destroyed them and didn't even break a sweat doing so. The Racers could not carry forward what had worked so well for even two days. So, when we see teams that overachieve in the opening weekend, or at least play to the best of their potential, we can't assume that they will bring it to the second weekend. That's especially true in the case of lower seeds who have been surprising. There is a shortage of those this year, but caution about Oregon wouldn't be out of place.
It's all about the matchup: This should go without saying but is worth a revisit anyway. The NCAA Tournament is more about matchups than anything else. A soft path can make an average team look stellar. A tough path can humble an outstanding squad. Virginia Tech and Michigan State haven't had nearly the test so far in the tournament that Florida State or Auburn have had. That doesn't mean that the latter two teams are better than the former two, but it does have to be factored into how you interpret what has happened so far.
Nothing that has happened really matters: Soon after the teams won their second game on the weekend, they jumped on a plane and flew home. They get to sleep in their own beds for a few days, practice in their own facilities, and use all the resources available to them to prepare for their next test. That's a very different situation than there was heading into the last game. There, they were dealing with short rest, preparing for a game in a hotel, limited practice time, and countless other distractions and challenges. We can't assume that what we have seen so far in the tournament will be what we see going forward.
There is more than that going on, too. Many of these teams still alive make a habit of making the Sweet 16. Michigan, North Carolina and Gonzaga are all in their fifth since 2013. They expect to get here, and they know what it takes to get here, but they also aren't likely to exert massive amounts of effort to get this far. They do only what they have to do, and they have the experience to know what that is. But now things are more serious, and we often see a difference in how these teams look. Michigan looked lousy through their first two games last year but flipped a switch and made the Championship Game. If you had judged them on their first two games, you would have picked against them consistently - and lost.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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