NCAA Tournament Betting: Opening week seeding trends

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, March 18, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

The NCAA Tournament has arrived and here are seeing trends for the rounds of 64 and 32. This is the first of a three-part series as we will present trends for each week of March Madness.

Well, Selection Sunday has come and gone and the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament has been revealed. Before making your NCAA Basketball picks against the spread though, we have analyzed the ATS seeding trends for the last 12 tournaments since 2001, and we are presenting the results for the rounds of 64 and rounds of 32 this week.

This is the first of a three-part series as we will have the seeding trends for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight next week and then for the Final Four and Championship Game two Mondays from now.

It appears as though the committee’s job was made easier this season as there were no real upsets in the conference tournaments that took away a bid from a bubble team, as the upsets were restricted to the small conferences that were only going to get one bid anyway. That should have made the seeding process easier also, but we do disagree with Gonzaga getting a one-seed while Miami received a two-seed.

Say what you will bout the Zags going 31-2, but the play in the terrible West Coast Conference and their highlight win this season was what, at Oklahoma State? The Hurricanes had many more quality wins and they won their conference tournament while playing in a tougher conference than the Bulldogs. That should only make the Free NCAA Brackets Contest at SBR more interesting however.

As promised, let us now move on to the seeding trends for opening week. First, clearing up some semantics, with the NCAA Tournament now beginning with the First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday, the round of 64 in now referred to as the second round and the round of 32 is considered the third round. Here are the seeding trends for those two rounds in the 12 NCAA Tournaments since 2001, with the results based on the closing odds at Pinnacle Sports.

One-seeds: As you have no doubt heard by now, a 16-seed has never beaten a one-seed so the ones are 48-0 straight up in the last 12 years while winning by an average margin of +25.7 points. The top seeds had a bit of a tougher time last season though as the won their second round games by an average of +15.8 points, and NC Ashville became the first 16-seed over the last 12 years to lose by single-digits, losing just 72-65 to Syracuse. The one-seeds went just 2-2 ATS in the round of 64 in 2012, bringing them to 25-21-2, 54.2 percent ATS vs. the 16-seeds since 2001.

In the round of 32, one-seeds went 43-5 straight up the last 12 years, and unlike Pittsburgh vs. Butler two years ago, they avoided the upset bug last season with the closest call coming when Michigan State only beat Saint Louis by four points, making the Spartans the only one-seed not the cover in the third round. Overall, top seeds are 27-21, 56.3 percent ATS in the third round (Round of 32) with an average winning margin of +12.4 points. Interestingly, the ‘over’ is a lucrative 33-13-2, 71.7 percent in games involving one seeds during the round of 32 since 2001, including going 3-1 last year The ‘over’ just missed the 4-0 sweep when Syracuse and Kansas State stayed ‘under’ being by just one-half point!

Two-seeds: Prior to last season, the two-seeds were 43-1 straight up in the round of 64. Well, you can now make it 45-3 as first Norfolk State stunned Missouri and then Lehigh shocked Duke later in the same day, as those two schools joined Hampton, which upset Iowa State back in 2001. Also, there have not been as many blowouts by the two-seeds as by the ones in their first games, as besides the three losses, 12 of the 45 wins have been by single-digits. As a result, the two-seeds have not been great ATS in their tournament openers, sitting at 22-26, 45.8 percent.

Surprisingly the 45 second-seeds that advanced to the round of 32 went only 30-15 straight up the last 12 years despite being favored in ever single one of those games, and although both won last season, neither one covered the spread to fall to 21-23-1 ATS, as eventual national finalist Kansas only beat Purdue by three points and eventual Final Four participant Ohio State only got by Gonzaga by seven.

Three-seeds: Because of the two shocking upsets of the two-seeds last season, the three-seeds now have an identical 45-3 straight up record as the twos in their opening games, now actually called the second round, and they have been very good ATS at 27-19-2, 58.7 percent. The three-seeds swept 4-0 while going 3-1 ATS in the second round last season with the only non-cover coming when Florida State nipped St. Bonaventure by three points.

Those 45 winning three-seeds have gone on to go 29-16 straight up in the round of 32, but they went only 2-2 last season with Florida State losing to Cincinnati and Georgetown falling to NC State.. They are 24-19-2, 55.8 percent ATS overall in the last 12 seasons in this round of 32, now the third round.

Four-seeds: This is the point where potential upsets become more common when filling out your brackets. While the top three seeds are a combined 138-6 straight up in the round of 64 since 2001, four-seeds have gone 36-12 with the 12th defeat coming last year when Ohio surprised Michigan. The other three four-seeds all covered the number in their opening games last season, and that leaves the fours at 25-23 ATS in the second round.

The 36 four-seeds that did manage to reach the round of 32 are a disappointing 19-17 straight up and 14-21-1, 40.0 percent ATS in this round, and although they went 3-0 straight up and 2-1 ATS last season, all three wins were by three points or less as Indiana failed to cover in a two-point win over VCU, Louisville beat New Mexico by three points as a two-point favorite and Wisconsin beat Vanderbilt by three points as a one-point favorite.

Five-seeds: It seems that a 12-seed beats a five-seed every year in the round of 64, and that is actually a reality as the fives have only gone 28-20 straight up over the last 12 years while going a losing 23-25 ATS in those games. There were two more 12-seed vs. five-seed upsets last season with VCU beating Wichita State and South Florida knocking off Temple.

Now, the 28 five-seeds that have avoided the upsets in their openers the last 12 seasons have gone on to go a nice 18-10 straight up as well as 14-12-2, 53.9 ATS in the round of 32, but both five-seeds that advanced this far lost both outright and ATS last season, although as mentioned earlier, those losses by New Mexico and Vanderbilt were by just three points each.

Six-seeds: The six-seeds have actually been one game better straight up than the five-seeds in the round of 64 in the 12 tournaments, going 29-19 on the court. However, the sixes matched the fives last season in going an identical 2-2 both straight up and ATS, and that drops the six-seeds to 23-24-1 ATS this round over the last 12 years.

The 29 six-seeds that advanced to the round of 32 have proceeded to go just 12-17 straight up and 13-15-1 ATS. Keep in mind that when the seeding has held though, the six seeds have been matched up with the better three-seeds in this round. Such was the case for the two six-seeds that reached this round last year, and they split 1-1 straight up and ATS as Cincinnati upset Florida State but Murray State saw its dream season end vs. third seeded Marquette.

Seven-seeds: Like the six-seeds, the seven-seeds have gone an identical 29-19 straight up in the round of 64, but the sevens have been better bets at 27-21, 56.3 percent ATS. Seventh-seeds have been especially strong as favorites in their opening game, going a rather lucrative 22-13, 62.9 percent ATS in that role.

Unfortunately, seven-seeds that have advanced are just 9-20 straight up in the round of 32, although it is worth noting that eight of the nine wins were outright upsets of two-seeds. Seven-seeds also went 2-0 ATS last season, with Florida having the good fortune to draw 15th seeded Norfolk State for a blowout win and Gonzaga covering in a loss to Ohio State That leaves seven-seeds at 15-13-1 ATS in the third round.

Eight-seeds: The eight-seed vs. nine-seed matchups should theoretically be the best matchups in the round of 64, and sure enough those games have indeed been the most competitive with the eight-seeds holding a slim 25-23 straight up edge the last 12 tournaments. Those seeds were dead even on the court before the eights took three of the four matchups last season. The eight vs. nine matchup is now dead even from a betting perspective the last 12 years though, with both seeds sitting at 23-23-2 ATS.

The 25 eight-seeds that have advanced to the round of 32 have always gotten matched up with one-seeds, so it makes perfect sense that the eights are 3-22 straight up and 10-15 ATS on opening weekend. The last win by an eight-seed in the third round was by Butler over top-seeded Pittsburgh two years ago, but the three eight-seeds that advanced to Saturday or Sunday last season were all routed while going 0-3 ATS.

Nine-seeds: The 22 nine-seeds that advanced to the round of 32 have also obviously all been matched up with one-seeds, and they have gone 2-21 straight up, although they are a quasi-respectable 11-12 ATS after the one nine-seed to advance last year, Saint Louis, covered while throwing a scare into Michigan State in a narrow 65-61 defeat.

10-seeds: In one of the pleasant stunners of the entire tournament, 10-seeds have gone a surprising 9-10 straight up when advancing to the second of 32. There was another 10-seed winner last year, but this one may deserve an asterisk as Xavier drew 15th seeded Lehigh. The 10-seeds did go 2-0 ATS though with Purdue covering in a three-point loss to Kansas, putting the tens at a nice 11-8, 57.9 percent ATS the last 12 seasons.

11-seeds: The 11-seeds that pulled upsets in the round of 64 are a rather nondescript 7-12 straight up and 8-10-1 ATS in the round of 32. However, three of those wins and covers by 11-seeds have come in the last two years with Marquette and VCU prevailing in 2011 and NC State upsetting Georgetown last year.

12-seeds: In another surprise, 12-seeds that have pulled off opening upsets in the last 12 tournaments have gone on to go a better than expected 9-11 straight up in the round of 32. More importantly from a betting perspective, 12-seeds are a stellar 14-6, 70.0 percent ATS in the round of 32 since 2001! They went 1-1 ATS last season, with VCU being the 12-seed that covered in a tough two-point loss to Indiana.

13-seeds: 13-seeds are just 2-10 straight up and 4-7-1 ATS when advancing to the round of 32, but the good news as the second straight up winner and latest ATS cover came last season when Ohio beat South Florida.

14-seeds: The 14-seeds that pulled upsets in the round of 64 have not won another game since 2001, going 0-3 straight up and 1-2 ATS in the round of 32. No 14-seeds got out of the second round last season.

15-seeds: The three 15-seeds in the last 12 years to advance to the round of 32 including the two last season all got thoroughly whipped, going 0-3 ATS while losing by an average of -21.7 points.

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