The 2017 NCAA March Madness tournament is upon us, and we’re here to prepare you for what’s to come.
As the video illustrates, perfect brackets do not exist. You have more chance of winning the lottery. There are too many variables at play, most of them unpredictable. No program or astute mind can predict, for instance, a No. 12 seed running amok through the Sweet 16 and obliterating 99.9 percent of brackets in the universe.
The goal for every sports bettor is to be as accurate as possible, while knowing you cannot come close to being perfect. It’s kind of like life in that way. To strike this balance, you need to play the trends, many of which will be valuable in the long run.
Take the reigning Villanova Wildcats for example. Only two teams have repeated as NCAA title-toters since 1973—the Florida Gators and Duke Bluedevils. While it’s possible Villanova, which remains a top seed in this year’s tournament, wins another championship, it’s beyond unlikely. And yet sportsbooks will treat them as a heavyweight favorite, because they have to.
So, essentially, betting on Villanova is like betting on a long shot, minus the otherworldly return in the unlikely event your wager proves successful. It’s smarter to steer clear of them altogether entering this year’s big dance. You can live knowing you played the real-life odds if they end up winning; you’ll most likely be kicking yourself harder if you place a sizable bet that whiffs hard.
Speaking of No. 1 seeds, it’s also imperative you don’t get caught up in the hype surrounding teams who earn that venerated placement.
Yes, seven of the last 10 NCAA Champions have been first-place squads. But you’re dealing with four No. 1 seeds per tournament. Going chalk assumes all four make the Final Four, which just doesn’t happen. It also, by extension, presumes the championship bout will be between two first-place outfits, another seldom occurrence.
Two No. 1 seeded contingents have met in the main event three times over the last 10 years, and a measly four times over the last two decades.
So when talking about seven of the last 10 champions being a No. 1 seed, you need to put that into context. Ten tournaments equates to 40 first-place units. If only seven have snagged a title, that’s a sub-20 percent hit rate (17.5).
During this time, a total of 10 top seeds have made it to the championship round at all. At best, then, you’re looking at only a 25 percent chance of getting a No. 1 seed prediction correct, and that doesn’t even include the actual championship winner.
By all means, view alphas such as the Kansas Jayhawks, Gonzaga Bulldogs and North Carolina Tar Heels as legitimate betting plays. But don’t get caught up in the common symptoms of tunnel vision when it comes to the top-seeded teams. They’re top of the hill for a reason but you don’t, like a teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber, want to get mesmerized by their holier-than-thou status.
Similarly, avoid going too far down the rabbit hole when scouring the bracket for underdogs.
Since 1979, no seed lower than 11th has made a Final Four. And the lowest-seeded team to make a championship match sported an eighth-place ranking.
It’s fine if you’re super high on this year’s Texas-Arlington Mavericks squad as potential darlings. But don’t be overly aggressive and view them as dark-horse plays. They’re not going to have the seeding clout, and therefore the match up advantage, to make it deep into the bracket.
This year, the Wichita State Shockers, and teams like them, should be the extent of your underdog pool. They’ll fall right around 10th in their respective region, maybe a little bit higher, and using historical results, you can at least begin to justify any vested interested in them.
We can’t guarantee a perfect March Madness if you take these tips and anecdotes under advisement. We can, however, assure you that you’ll have a much more genuine chance at a successful month.
Win an NCAA Basketball jersey
Go to our corresponding Facebook post (click here) for your chance to win an NCAA basketball jersey of your choice.
All you have to do is share the Facebook post and comment under the Facebook post with your answer to the question: “How many times has a #16 seed upset a #1 seed in March Madness history?”
The contest ends on March 7 and the winner will be randomly selected from all verified participants on March 10. Contestants must correctly answer the question and share the relevant post on or before the March 7 deadline to be entered into the competition.
Good luck and let the Madness begin.