March Madness is just weeks away. Time to start handicapping for those picks. Check out the first of an eight-part series exploring seeding trends for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament here.
Hey bettors, got the post-Super Bowl blues? Don’t fret, the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off in less than a month. Hooray! This year’s Final Four is at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale on April 1 and 3 and SBR Forum is here, once again, to help you achieve bracketology perfection.
Selection Sunday takes place March 12, but it’s never too early to begin handicapping the much-anticipated event. To help, we will roll out an updated version of the eight-part series on March Madness seeding trends painstakingly put together last year by SBR Picks contributor LT Profits. LT Profits poured through historic betting market data since 2001 to provide ATS records and more for each of the first-round pairings. Look for updated write-ups on Thursday and Friday of each week heading into the Big Dance. Do note the results look over the past play-in game arrangement involving the 64th and 65th seed, as well as the expanded 68-team format starting in 2011.
No. 1 Vs. No. 16
Re-run time. Get ready for a bombardment of commentators speculating on which No. 16 programs possess the best chance to upset a No. 1 seed. It has never happened in NCAA Tournament history and will likely not occur any time soon. Since 2001, the average winning margin for these first-round mismatches are +24.4 points. Heading into last year’s tournament, the ATS record was right at .500 with a 29-29-2 mark. No. 1 seeds went 3-1 against the number in 2016, with North Carolina failing to cover as 23.5-point chalk in an 83-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast.
No. 1’s Performance Post-First Round
No. 1 seeds are barely tested in Rounds 2 and 3 as well. Since 2001, they are 56-8 SU and 36-28 ATS on NCAA basketball picks in Round 2. Teams went 3-1 ATS last year with Virginia failing to cover an 8.5-point spread in a 77-69 win over Butler. The average wining margin in this round is 12.1 points. The Sweet 16 remains relatively easy, too. The top seeds are 45-11 SU and 32-24 ATS. Oregon, Kansas, North Carolina, and Virginia each beat the number in last year’s action. The average winning margin is 7.5 points in this round.
The Elite Eight is where action becomes more competitive. Three of last year’s No. 1 seeds were knocked out in this round, each tipping as favorites in their respective contests. Overall, No. 1 seeds are 24-21 SU and 17-27-1 ATS in this round since 2001. This is the best value spot for an upset play.
Since 2001, No. 1 seeds are 15-9 SU and 14-10 ATS on NCAA basketball odds in the first round of the Final Four. North Carolina thrashed Syracuse 83-66 as 10-point chalk in 2016. Keep in mind, this round has pitted four matchups of top seeds facing each other. The Orangemen entered the tourney a 10 seed, where the record is 11-5 SU and 10-6 ATS against.
Prior to last season, No. 1 seeds that reached the championship game versus non-No. 1s were a perfect 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. No. 2 Villanova’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer to down the Tar Heels 77-74 in last year's title game put a blemish on this trend. Four times No. 1 seeds have squared off against one another, bringing the overall record to 10-4 SU and 9-5 ATS.