While bettors overwhelmingly tend to take the favorite during the regular season, the NCAA tournament is a rare time when the public jumps all over the underdog.
Coaching is a huge part of any sport, but particularly in college basketball. To eliminate these teams, we focused solely on teams that won their previous game. With public support shifting, we theorized that there would be value fading these so-called “trendy underdogs.”
Most profitable tournament coaches since 2005. Unfortunately, this system would also include teams that were an underdog during their last conference tournament game. Sure, the Super Bowl may take a larger handle than any individual game, but the cumulative number of bets taken during March Madness dwarfs even the mighty beast known as the NFL playoffs.
In last week’s conference tournament betting guide, we detailed a system that focuses on large underdogs in low-scoring games, and explained how public betting patterns change during the postseason. While managing egos seems to be the largest challenge for NBA coaches, imparting fundamentals and turning five talented individuals into one cohesive unit are just two of the struggles facing college coaches. Whatever the reason, our historical archive reveals a distinct change in public betting behavior.
Bettors can also use the public betting trends available on ESPN Chalk’s Live Odds page to track favorites receiving less than 50 percent of spread bets.
More money hits the market during the NCAA tournament than any other time in the sports betting calendar. At the time of publication, OSU was receiving just 24 percent of spread bets.
Our theory posits that when an underdog pulls off an unlikely upset, square bettors have difficulty accepting the team’s new role as a favorite. This addition leads to a 12-2 ATS record with +9.45 units won and a 67.5 percent ROI.
During the regular season, a majority of public bettors take the underdog in just 17.65 percent of games; that figure reaches 23.82 percent for the NCAA tournament. If bettors are willing to take a 12-seed over a 5-seed straight up, it makes sense that they would also be willing to bet the 12-seed getting points.
With so few past system picks on the third tier of this system, it’s no surprise that there are no current game matches for the opening-round games. Below is a list of the best and worst coaches to bet on in the NCAA tourney this year and their corresponding ATS tourney records.
Using Sport Insights’ Bet Labs software, we found that tournament favorites that receive less than 50 percent of spread bets have gone 86-65 ATS (+16.24 units won, 10.8 percent ROI) over the past 10 years. The Cowboys lost their previous game against Oklahoma and opened as a 1-point favorite against Oregon. The table below summarizes the results of our analysis.
Least profitable tournament coaches since 2005
Perhaps bettors consider all tournament participants to be upper-echelon teams and are content taking the points regardless of opponent. When this team was also an underdog in its previous game, the number of past matches is reduced dramatically, but we’re left with a 27-11 ATS record (+14.5 units, 38.2 percent ROI).
Best and worst coaches to bet on
One reason for this phenomenon may be that bettors are used to taking upsets in their brackets, making them more likely to gravitate toward the underdog. However, we do have a Tier 2 match on Oklahoma State