NCAA bet trends should continue

Mar 23, 2004 5:28 AM

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament got off to a rousing start last week as the 64-team field was whittled down to Sweet 16, who advance to the semi-final rounds this week.

The winning eight teams will play in the Regional Finals on Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28. And the Final Four teams will advance to the championship games the following Saturday, April 3, with the championship game scheduled for Monday, April 5.

With so many intriguing match-ups, sports junkies were able to stay "fixed" on many games that yielded winning bets for those astute bettors who follow GamingToday.

For instance, in last week’s expanded NCAA issue, we pointed out that No. 16 seeds traditionally fared well against No. 1 seeds, and that No. 5 versus No. 12, and No. 7 versus No. 10 seeds were also strong trends worth exploring.

Well, when the dust settled, the four No. 16 seeds were a bank-busting 3-1 ATS (against the spread), while the No. 5’s and No. 7’s were a combined, 5-3 ATS, which included five outright winners.

The trend to back underdogs should be continued in the second weekend of action, according to a high-stakes sports bettor, who asked that his name not be revealed.

"If you don’t have time to handicap the match-ups or analyze what the teams did during the regular season, this is a good system," the bettor said. "It’s the same as college football before the bowl games: if you bet every underdog you should make money."

The bettor pointed out that one of the common scenarios is that the "higher seeded teams often get a big lead, and then back off because they know they have more games coming up."

Statistics also reveal that underdogs in the second round and the Sweet 16 round have been very efficient. Historically, the teams in the Sweet 16 round have covered about 74 percent of the time in recent years.

With so many games taking place, most bettors want to play the entire tournament. Our sports bettor pointed out that such factors as conference strength and team match-ups have to be considered after the opening round. But caution is always the watchword.

"For the quarter finals, you’d think the better teams would get there," he said. "But this is not necessarily true. As we’ve seen throughout the regular season in college basketball, there’s a lot of parity."

Indeed, lower seeds did heavy damage last weekend. Stanford and Kentucky, both No. 1 seeds, were knocked out by unranked teams, Alabama and Alabama-Birmingham, respectively. There’s no reason to think the trend won’t continue.