March Madness Betting
Our last article articulated our enthusiasm regarding an ESPN Insider series. It was scientific study that found common attributes on overachievement and underachievement teams in March Madness. We believe close scrutiny and application will only increase our “Lord of the Dance” status.
A great many of our articles, over the years, focused on exposing and fading gambling myths. But not all commonly held beliefs are untruths.
There were some trends that the research found are more in tune with perception. Perhaps topping the list is the importance of experience. Coaches with at least 10 tournament appearances and teams with at least four straight tournament bids did very well both in beating higher seeds or holding serve when they were the better seeded team.
However, not surprisingly “experience” was significantly more affective when combined with other top performing factors, such as frontcourt scoring ability, “star” power (if you didn’t read our previous article, defined as “All American”). This is consistent with what we’ve stressed for years. Having been there and done that is icing on the cake, but not the entire package by any means. In other words, a talented and seasoned team is better than a gifted newbie, but maturity in and of itself has little value if not backed by ability.
One finding that I’m not sure whether to categorize it as contrarian or widely accepted, but instead classify it under a more significant umbrella: invaluable foreknowledge. When united with other attributes, teams that enter the tournament on a one-game losing streak do exceptionally well in the tournament.
This should come as a surprise to nobody, though it likely does. We used the terminology of the study, but perhaps the term “streak” is a misnomer. Teams that enter the Dance off of one and only one loss obviously are not “streaking” in the wrong direction. This of course is not flawless. Hypothetically they could have lost 4-of-5 as an example, but it would be the exception. Capturing conference championship means winning three or four games in a row, usually in as many days and it the case of the big conferences, with as little as three days rest before the Field of 65.
A team off a loss is almost always an at-large team and will generally be better rested than the conference champs. A little wake-up call before the tournament starts will be a positive for a quality team. Let’s face it, teams that are good enough to make the Field of 65, somewhere along the line showed they have an ability to rebound from a one-game setback.
Not to mention, both the NCAA committee and the betting public can tend to overreact based on an early exit in the conference tournaments.
The ESPN quantitative analysis of course, was not gambling specific, so hence it will not produce direct and specific systems to apply. However, the trial and error has beyond reproach produced very advantageous rules of engagement for the sports gambler during March Madness pointspread betting.