Best Futures Bets Based on 10,000 NCAA Tourney Simulations

Best Futures Bets Based on 10,000 NCAA Tourney Simulations article feature image

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Guy

The NCAA tournament tips Tuesday with the first of four play-in games. Villanova is the 4-1 favorite to win the championship, followed by Duke at 11-2 and Virginia at 6-1. UVA is the top overall seed in the bracket but are the Cavaliers undervalued by the betting market?


To find out, we ran 10,000 simulations of the 2018 NCAA tournament using our Bracket simulator. Then we compared each squad’s current odds to win the Big Dance to our projections. If a team has a higher projected chance to cut down the nets than implied probability, there is value placing a wager.

After running the numbers, we’ve pinpointed four teams that bettors should jump on before the tournament begins.

Virginia Cavaliers

Current odds: 6-1, Implied Probability: 14.3%
UVA wins the tournament 18.9% of the time

No. 1 team in the country, top overall seed in the bracket, best defense by a mile (53.4 ppg allowed) and the oddsmakers are sleeping on Virginia?


Believe it. The Cavaliers have a 44.1% chance to reach the Final Four and are the most likely champ (18.9%) according to our simulations. As we’ve noted before, the perfect recipe for a title is a top 40 offense and a stingy defense, check and check for UVA.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Current odds: 25-1, Implied Probability: 3.8%
Cincy wins the tournament 8.5% of the time

Cincinnati is the most undervalued team in the tournament. The Bearcats have held opponents to 57.2 ppg, crash the boards hard (top 10 in total rebounding) and rank second in defensive efficiency. UC has the fourth-best odds to win the tournament (8.5%) and according to our numbers, should be closer to 10-1 instead of 25-1 in Vegas.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Current odds: 20-1, Implied Probability: 4.8%
UNC wins the tournament 5.4% of the time

Can North Carolina return to the title game for a third straight year? The Tar Heels have the talent and a favorable path to get back to the Final Four. Xavier is the weakest 1-seed and the top eight teams in the West have the worst adjusted efficiency score in the tournament.

Houston Cougars

Current odds: 150-1, Implied Probability: 0.7%
Houston wins the tournament 0.8% of the time

If Virginia, Cincinnati and North Carolina are too chalky for you, Houston is a long shot with upside. The Cougars are a balanced squad, ranking 31st in offensive and 18th in defensive efficiency, according to


Kelvin Sampson’s team gets the same benefit as North Carolina by playing in a wide-open region and has shown it can beat the best programs in the country (upset No. 5 Cincinnati and No. 7 Wichita State).

Below is each team’s odds, implied probability and projected chance to win the NCAA tournament.

Pictured Virginia guard Kyle Guy

Photo via Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

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