March Madness Betting Analysis: Mistakes You Should Evade

March Madness Betting Analysis: Mistakes You Should Evade

When you think about it, sports betting on college sports really is one of the riskiest propositions out there. Expecting young people between the ages of 18 and 21 in most cases (except for quarterbacks in their sixth or eighth season of eligibility, like Stetson Bennett) to produce under the klieg lights of extreme pressure can be madness, as we saw when Ohio State just needed to make a reasonable field goal to eliminate Georgia and go to the national championship game. It can also pay off big time, as LSU fans saw when Joe Burrow calmly led them to a national title of their own. In the case of March Madness, we’re dealing with teams that don’t face each other very much and, particularly in the early round, with teams that the general betting public doesn’t know a whole lot about. Let’s break down some mistakes that you should avoid if you want to turn the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament into a money-maker.


NCAA Bracketology: The Biggest Mistakes that March Madness Bettors Make


Don’t bet on a team’s reputation. Bet on its work this season

If you’re drawn to names like Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Gonzaga and Duke, don’t be too hard on yourself. They are among the elite names in college basketball history. With some exceptions, these teams are solid every year. We read about them in the tournament just about every year – not just because they get in, but because they make deep runs. If we look at Kentucky this year, though, we see that betting heavy on them might be a mistake. They have a record of 21-10 (12-6 SEC) and will probably ride their reputation to an NCAA berth. They are a young team, and they have had a very inconsistent offense. Are they ripe for a first-round upset? Absolutely – depending on their opponent.

What about Villanova? They have been one of the most reliable Big Dance teams in recent years. This year, though, they are currently 17-15 (10-10 Big East). At this point, they would probably need to win the Big East Tournament to get a spot in the Big Dance, with five other teams ahead of them in the conference standings. But if they can make a run and snag the automatic qualifying spot, don’t be misled – this is not one of Jay Wright’s championship teams. Wright has retired, and the rebuild is on. If Villanova can sneak in, don’t expect them to get a high seed, and don’t expect them to stick around long.


Don’t pick upsets just to pick upsets

Without upsets, the NCAA tournament wouldn’t have nearly the entertainment value that it has. If you think back to TCU’s crazy run to the CFP championship game in January, you can see the allure of a team benefiting from win after lucky win, careening its way to the top of its sport before receiving a harsh lesson. Butler rolled all the way to the national final in March Madness in both 2010 and 2011 before settling back into competitive mediocrity. However, not every fan is like Saint Peter’s in 2022, rolling deep into the tournament, so you’ll need to do your research before you pick a Cinderella. When teams like Middle Tennessee and Stephen F. Austin knock off a blue-blood (or at least an overrated Power 5 conference team that was seeded higher than it should have been), there are usually reasons that dedicated sports bettors could have picked up on with careful research. So if you are going to pick Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to knock off UCLA in the first round, don’t just do it because UCLA coach Mick Cronin annoys you in his press conferences. Do it because you know that Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has a strength that UCLA struggles to stop.


Don’t overthink the process

There’s a difference between careful research and overthinking. Once you figure out, for example, that one team’s penchant to press the whole game will capitalize on their opponent’s difficulties in the backcourt, then you’re ready to pick an upset. Remember when Purdue had terrific big men but iffy guards? That was a team that a full-court press could frustrate all the way out of the tournament. Syracuse’s 2-3 zone forces teams to move the ball around, be patient, and make shots. Most teams focus on man-to-man coverage these days, so if a team isn’t that great shooting from distance, then the Orange could post an upset. It’s insights that this that will help you, but don’t spend hours poring over each choice on your bracket. You’ll talk yourself out of making the right bet if you do.

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