The first round of the NCAA tournament starts Thursday. Before you fill out your bracket or place a bet, here are seed vs. seed trends to know for the Big Dance.
1-seed vs. 16-seed
A 1-seed has never lost to a 16-seed. Since 2005, the top seeds are 52-0 straight-up. Only 40 games actually had moneylines associated with them due to the matchup disparity. Despite a perfect record, a $100 bettor wagering on every 1-seed would be up only $96.
The top seeds in the tournament don’t lose straight-up but that doesn’t mean they are locks to cover the spread. Since 2005, No. 1 seeds are 27-25 against-the-spread (ATS) in the first round.
However, when 1-seeds are a favorite of fewer than 20 points, they have gone 8-2 ATS. Kansas, this year’s top seed in the Midwest, is favored by 14 points over Penn (2 p.m. ET on March 15).
2-seed vs. 15-seed
No. 2 seeds have topped the 15-seed in 48 of 52 meetings since 2005. The four losses have come in the past six years, with the most recent upset in 2016 when Middle Tennessee State surprised Michigan State as +1529 moneyline underdogs.
Since 2007, 2-seeds have received fewer than 50% of spread tickets just three times, winning each game and going 2-1 ATS. At the time of writing, Cincinnati, 2-seed in the South, is getting 42% of bets as a 14-point favorite vs. Georgia State.
3-seed vs. 14-seed
The 3-seeds are 44-8 straight-up in our database vs. 14-seeds. Last year, they won each contest by an average of 14 points, but in the previous four tournaments, a 14-seed pulled an upset in the first round.
All four 3-seeds are double-digit favorites this year, and when they’ve been favored by 10 or more points vs. 14-seeds, they’ve gone 26-5 straight-up and 16-15 ATS.
4-seed vs. 13-seed
From 2008-13, a 13-seed won at least one first-round game. The good times didn’t last, though, as 4-seeds have gone 15-1 straight-up in the past four Big Dances.
Arizona is the only 4-seed not favored by double-digits. Since 2005, 4-seeds favored by fewer than 10 points have gone 22-14 (61%) ATS vs. No. 13 seeds. Arizona (-9) plays Buffalo at 9:40 p.m. ET on Thursday.
5-seed vs. 12-seed
The 5-12 matchup is a favorite among bracket builders for upset potential. Since 2005, a 12-seed has beat a 5-seed in all but two tournaments (2007 and 2015 being the exceptions). 12-seeds have exceeded the oddsmakers’ expectations going 21-31 straight-up and 29-22-1 ATS. Which 12-seed should you consider picking this year? PJ Walsh examines each 5-12 matchup in the link below.
6-seed vs. 11-seed
At least one 11-seed has defeated a 6-seed every year in our database going back to 2005. 11-seeds won three of four matchups with 6-seeds in last year’s tournament, a feat they pulled off in 2016, as well.
Miami, 6-seed in the South region, opened as 2.5-point favorites vs. 11-seed Loyola Chicago. The line has moved to Hurricanes -1.5. If the movement continues and the Ramblers become favorites, 11-seeds giving points are 6-1 ATS since 2005.
7-seed vs. 10-seed
7-seeds are 33-19 (63%) straight-up in this first round matchup and 28-9 (76%) straight-up when favored against 10-seeds. The higher seeded team usually wins but a 10-seed has advanced in every tournament but one (2007) since 2005.
Arkansas, 7-seed in the East, is a 1.5-point underdog to Butler (3:10 p.m. ET on March 16). 7-seeds are 5-10 straight-up and 7-8 ATS as dogs in the first round.
8-seed vs. 9-seed
This often is the toughest matchup to pick in the tournament. 8-seeds hold a 30-22 advantage straight-up since 2005, but the average margin of victory is 0.33 points. Betting the underdog in the 8/9 game has been a profitable strategy, as the team getting points is 30-19-3 (61%) ATS since 2005.
The current dogs:
- 9-seed NC State +2.5 (4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday)
- 8-seed Alabama +2 (9:20 p.m. ET on Thursday)
- 8-seed Kansas State +2 (6:50 p.m. ET on Friday)
- 8-seed Missouri +1 (9:50 p.m. ET on Friday).
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