Betting Highlights of 2018 NCAA Tourney: Cats Go 6-0, Dogs Rule, More
As quickly as it started less than three weeks ago, the 2018 NCAA Tournament came to a close Monday with Villanova winning (and, more importantly, covering) its third national championship in school history.
The Wildcats finished the NCAA Tournament 6-0 against the spread, becoming the sixth team to accomplish that feat over the past 20 years. Maybe more impressively, Villanova finished the season by beating its last 10 opponents by double digits.
Let’s recap the insanity that was the 2018 NCAA Tournament …
Year Of The Dog
Underdogs won 22 games in this year’s tournament, the most since 2011. Buoyed by the biggest underdog winner of them all — 16-seed UMBC upsetting 1-seed Virginia in the first round — betting on dogs in every game would’ve netted a $100 bettor $2,403 in profit. In total, underdogs were 34-30-3 ATS (53.1%) in this year’s tournament. Dogs have finished above .500 ATS in six of the past nine tourneys, with two seasons an exact .500 ATS.
Underdogs of five points or more won 10 games in this year’s tournament (none in the Elite Eight or later), the most since 2003 (also 10). Even though dogs of this caliber were able to pull off a record number of upsets, they finished the tournament below .500, at 18-20-2 ATS (47.4%).
Under The Radar
When it came to totals in this year’s tournament, unders started hot, cashing in all of the First Four games. Under bettors finished eight games above .500 (37-29-1, 56.1%). This has been a rarity lately (first time since 2015), but not overall (eighth time in the past 14 tournaments).
Last year’s tourney was one to forget for public bettors, as teams receiving the majority of tickets went 23-37-6 ATS (38.3%). It was the least profitable March Madness for the masses since 2005. On one level, the public came back to respectability this year, as teams that received 51% of the tickets went 33-30-3 ATS (52.4%). On the other hand, teams that got at least 60% of the tickets finished 16-20-3 ATS, which continued the trend of recent years. Since the 2013 tournament, teams with that level of support are 88-113-8 ATS (43.8%), with the majority of that damage being done in the first two rounds of the tourney.
Reno Loved It Late
Only one team that made this year’s Sweet 16 went 0-3 or worse against the first-half spread but 3-0 or better against the second-half spread: the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Nevada had an insane second-half comeback in its NCAA Tournament wins against Texas and Cincinnati. The Wolf Pack failed to cover the first-half spread by 7 PPG and ended up covering the second-half spread by 9.2 PPG.
In what was a tourney full of madness, perhaps no team had a crazier run than Nevada.
Until next year …
Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports