March Madness always delivers the highest level of competition and everyone watches for surprising upsets, heart-stopping buzzer-beaters and great stories. But millions of people watch to see just how their NCAA Bracket is doing. That’s the fun part of March Madness. But filling out that winning bracket can be a daunting task, and with so much information out there, it’s tough to sift through all of it, forcing many players to simply pick teams they have heard of. So, we’ve come up with some quick NCAA bracket tips and betting angles in our March Madness bracket guide to get you started.
1) A #1 seed has won 12 of the last 15 tournaments. The non-number 1 seeds were: #2 Villanova in 2016 and UConn twice, as a seven seed in 2014 and a three in 2011.
Bracket tip: There is nothing wrong with loading up your bracket with #1 seeds. It is a preferred method to have at least one #1 seed in the Finals and multiple in the Final Four.
2) No team that headed into the tournament at greater than 10/1 odds has claimed the championship since Villanova won in 2016, after opening at +1500 to win it all.
Betting tip: Currently, both Houston and Alabama are less than 10-1, both Purdue and Kansas are 12-1.
3) Since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams, #1 seeds are 127-1 SU in Round 1 and 146-21 in Round 2. #2 seeds and #3 seeds have won over 85% of their games in the opening round, while #4 seeds won 78% of their opening games.
Bracket tip: Advancing the top seeds to the Sweet 16 is a proven, safe bracket strategy.
4) The #5 seed vs #12 has become a popular and over-hyped matchup for upsets in recent years. #12 seeds are 6-6 straight up in Round 1 in the last three tournaments, but just one 12-seed won last year.
Betting tip: The 5/12 matchups are always interesting. #5 seeds Duke and St. Mary’s are tough. Instead, check out San Diego State vs. Charleston (+5.5) and Drake (+2.5) vs. Miami. The College of Charleston was one of just 4 teams to win 30 games this season and Drake features four seniors and sophomore Tucker DeVries, who was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of Year and outstanding player of MVC Tournament.
5) But . . . last year, three #6 seeds lost to #11 seeds in Round 1.
Betting tip: Could this be the new 5/12 trend? Six seeds Creighton and TCU have looked awfully good, while Kentucky and Iowa State are beatable. Ken Pom listed Providence (+4.5) over Kentucky as one of his top 10 upsets and number 11 seeds off a win in the First Four at Dayton have won a first round game in four of the last five tournaments.
6) Since the First Four started in 2011, one team from the play-in games has made it to the Round of 32 or later every year except 2019. Last year it was Notre Dame. This year it could be Arizona State, Nevada, Mississippi State or Pitt.
Bracket and betting tip: Watch the play-in games, the First Four. At the very least, read up on the recaps of the First Four before completely dismissing what could be a big dog winner in the first round.
7) #9 seeds have been better than #8 seeds over more than 35 years, winning 71 out of the last 128 matchups. All four 8/9 games have razor thin point spreads. If you pick this coin-flip kinda matchup correctly, note that just one #9 seed has advanced past the Elite 8 and the eight has struggled to get to the Sweet 16.
Bracket tip: Don’t ride an 8 or nine seed deep into your bracket.
8) The #4 seed has won the Big Dance just one time, Arizona back in 1997. This year’s number 4s are particularly unappealing, in both the bracket and at the betting window.
Betting tip: Look for a SU upset winner of a #4 in the first two rounds. Virginia and Indiana appear to be most vulnerable.
9) A west coast team has not won the NCAA Tournament since the mid-90s, 27 years ago.
Make it 28.
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