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A Method to the Madness: Betting on the big dance

Is your bracket completely busted after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament? Most years the answer to that question would be yes, but unless you picked a ton of higher seeds to make it to the sweet sixteen (like how I picked Belmont for some reason) then you’re probably doing pretty well. All 1-4 seeds besides two, (5) Auburn and (12) Oregon, have punched their ticket to the second weekend.

As you can see, 14 of my Sweet 16 teams made it to next round with all eight of my elite eight teams alive and well. Now that you know I can accurately predict college basketball games, it’s your turn to turn to capitalize on my bracket brilliance. The second round was a clean sweep for me betting the money line with Tennessee and LSU coming through with victories for me after the teams I initially had slotted in the sweet 16 got bounced (thanks for losing what was basically a home game Cincinnati).

These were the odds at the time I predicted the outcome the night before each respective game. This chart looks at what I would have won if (because sports betting is illegal in NY, which is where I live unfortunately) I put $100 on each team to win. Some wins are more valuable than others. For example, Gonzaga’s odds of beating Baylor were -950, which equates to the sports book giving them a 90.49% chance to win. $10.53 is not a big payout by any means, but when it’s that obvious who will win that’s what happens with the money line. That won’t be the case this weekend. The lines will be tighter and there will be more money to win picking favorites compared to the first two rounds. I picked all chalk and they all came through, but that trend won’t last the rest of the tourney. So let’s take a look at the odds for Thursday’s juicy Sweet 16 matchups and see who will win (because I’m a modern day Nostradamus).

SPOILER ALERT: PROTECT YOUR EYES IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE WHO WILL ADVANCE TO THE ELITE 8 OUT OF THE SOUTH AND WEST REGIONS.

I’m sticking with my gut and will ride or die with the teams I initially picked in my tournament bracket. I highly doubt all the favorites will win again, the competition these top teams will see is far superior to what they saw in round two. Each team has also had more than half a week to prepare and get fully healthy so we should, key word being should, see the best version of these teams tomorrow night.

I’d give you a bunch of statistical reasons for why I think these teams will win, but I won’t waste your time. It’s pointless because it’s March, stats go out the window and teams accomplish feats no one thinks they’re capable of. Baylor and Syracuse shot the lights out of Salt Lake City in round one, setting a record for most threes made (28) in a non-overtime tournament game. For those not aware, these were two of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation during the regular season. Minnesota had a three-point outburst against Louisville after being the second worst three-point shooting team in the Big Ten during the regular season. Fletcher Magee, Wofford star and all-time leader in career three pointers made in D1 men’s basketball history, went 0-12 from deep against Kentucky.

There’s a reason it’s called March Madness, hopefully for me (and you if you rely on me for my bracket expertise) my teams will come through. Check in tomorrow night for Friday’s picks and see if I’d be swimming in cash or if I’d be asking my mom to pay for my next Walmart run.

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