Enter March Madness
When March comes all sports’ fans eyes are turned towards NCAA’s most enjoyable and unpredictable playoff tournament, the March Madness, with millions of brackets being submitted every year. Bitcoin betting value abounds.
NBA’s potential future superstars take the stage and give it all in a unique and all-time classic format. As we head into the last weeks of the regular season, should you need to know more about this tournament and how to bet on it, then this is the place.
After you've read this post to learn more about the tournament, check out our 2023 update on some of the longshots to look out for this year.
March Madness history and structure
An idea of coach Harold Olsen back in 1939, the NCAA March Madness (or NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament) is a College basketball yearly single-elimination tournament taking place in the United States in order to decide the national championship. It starts around mid-March, with the Final Four to conclude every season, being held somewhere around the first weekend of April.
68 teams qualify for the tournament, with 32 of them checking in as champions of Division I conferences and 36 being given at-large berth entries by a selection committee. These teams are decided in the so-called “Selection Sunday”, just a few days before the First Round starts, in a process called “seeding”.
What is seeding?
After all participants are confirmed, teams are ranked from 1 to 68. The four lowest seeded champions’ entries along with the four lowest seeded at-large entries from the “First Four” round and each subset plays against itself, meaning that champions entries cannot play against at-large entries. This round has been taking place in Canton, Ohio, since 2011 with the four winning teams proceeding to the Tournament’s First Round of 64 and giving it its final shape.
Why is seeding important?
Then the four regions are set, each containing 16 teams. Seeds from 1 to 16 are given to the teams, with the highest seeded team playing the lowest (no. 1 vs. no. 16, no. 2 vs. no. 15 and so on). Seeding is rather important and sets the scene for every team’s road and potentially who faces whom. The way it is, it kind of works as a safety valve for 1-seeds, as they have to face the lowest seeds proceeding on every round until the Final Four.
It has happened only once for a 16-seed to pull an upset at the First Round, when last year 16-seeded UMBC beat Virginia and made history, as this had never happened before on 135 attempts.
Each regional champion proceeds to the Tournament’s last stage, the Final Four. Its location is preselected, with the two Semi-finals’ winners playing for the National Championship. The last team to be crowned champions were the Villanova Wildcats after beating the Michigan Wolverines in the 2018 final.
Playing schedule can become hectic for teams and players as they proceed into the latter stages of the Tournament, with games scheduled every two days for the First Rounds. Fatigue should be a factor when we take into account that players are not professional yet and could easily be affected, especially when teams will have to travel a lot in a short time period, something that could translate into some betting value in favor of the underdogs later on.
This kind of format has increasing chances of a “Cinderella team” to make some noise and advance into the latter stages of the tournament.
Villanova’s 1985 improbable run from the 8-seed to win the National Championship game against Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas should be regarded as one of the most unforgettable in history. They had a nearly perfect game, shooting at 79% and managed to complete an amazing run.
More recent examples of 2008 Stephen Curry’s Davidson or 2010 & 2011 Gordon Hayward’s Butler (coached by Brad Stevens) reaching the Elite Eight & the Championship Game respectively, proved that every March Madness participant can dream big while the stars of tomorrow make a name for themselves. Curry was stellar in the Tournament (several 30-point games and one 40-point game) with the Wildcats being a shot away from making the Final Four against Kansas.
Two years later, Butler managed to reach two consecutive finals after beating several powerhouses on their way including 1-seed Syracuse in 2010 and lost the Championship game by two points. This is regarded as a huge overachievement for a program of Butler’s size and reputation.
Of course it is not always about making deep runs in order to be counted for a Cinderella team; 2015 15-seed Lehigh’s huge upset against 2-seed Duke (led by C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers) in the First Round was enough to confirm the special and amazing David against Goliath stories March Madness produces.
Where is the betting value?
These stories should also translate into some betting value as well. When combined with deeper analysis, these general strategies can lead to betting profits:
- One strategy that can be used here is to take advantage of the more generous lines that bookmakers should give to 11-seeds early on in matchups against 6-seeds, in a match-up where traditionally several upsets occur, at 36.5%.
- Games are in most cases very competitive and close, so taking the Under in total points scored is always a good option.
- When the tournament is in its early stages, a safer bet could be to go with the handicap in favor of the top seeds, as the differences between teams in the First Round for example are big enough and chances for an upset pretty low (top-3 seeds are 378-30 against bottom-3 seeds all time).
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