Most Overvalued, Undervalued NCAA Tourney Future Bets

Most Overvalued, Undervalued NCAA Tourney Future Bets article feature image

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Your bracket is busted and your favorite team is no longer dancing. If you are like me, you’re probably looking for a new team. The best way to have some skin in the game is to place a future bet, but which team in the Sweet 16 is worth a wager?


To find out, we re-simulated the 2018 NCAA tournament 10,000 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.

Here are three teams to consider betting before the Sweet 16 begins, but first, a public service announcement.

Don’t Bet Kentucky

Kentucky’s path to the Final Four looked challenging before the tournament began. An opening round game against a tough Davidson team followed by likely matchups with Arizona, Virginia and Cincinnati. That’s all changed after shocking upsets have left Coach Cal’s team as the highest remaining seed in the South Region. The young but talented Cats now have a clear path to the Final Four and are the most likely team to win the region (40.5%). However, at 15-2 odds Kentucky is overvalued. According to our simulations, the Wildcats would be underdogs to both Gonzaga and Michigan — their most likely opponents in the Final Four — as well as to Duke and Villanova in a potential title game. Given the performance of favorites so far, especially in the South Region, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kentucky failed to capitalize on this opportunity.

Duke Blue Devils

Current odds: 15-4, Implied Probability: 21.1%
Duke wins the tournament 22.0% of the time

Duke, not Kentucky, has the easiest path to the Final Four. The Blue Devils are 11.5-point favorites over Syracuse in the Sweet 16 and are the most likely team to win its next game (82.8%) according to our model. Plus, Coach K’s team would be 67.0% likely, on average, to beat the winner of Kansas-Clemson in the Elite Eight. The Dukies are the most likely Final Four participant with a 55.1% chance of reaching the final weekend and are the most likely title winner at 22.0%.


Michigan Wolverines

Current odds: 12-1, Implied Probability: 7.7%
Michigan wins the tournament 8.8% of the time

Survive and advance. Michigan had a close call against Houston on Saturday, needing a buzzer-beater to get by the Cougars. The Wolverines were lucky to escape with the win but are now prime candidates to compete for a title. The Maize and Blue have a top 40 offense and are third in KenPom’s defensive efficiency, which is the perfect recipe for a championship.

Nevada Wolf Pack

Current odds: 88-1, Implied Probability: 1.1%
Nevada wins the tournament 2.3% of the time

This is no Cinderella. Nevada won the Mountain West and finished the season ranked No. 22 in the AP Top 25. The Pack can score in bunches, averaging 83.0 points per game (16th in the nation) and ranks sixth in offensive efficiency. Nevada is a small favorite against Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16 and has a puncher’s chance (37.9%) against Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

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

Pictured Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo

Photo via Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports


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