How to Take Advantage of Inflated (and Deflated) March Madness Lines

How to Take Advantage of Inflated (and Deflated) March Madness Lines article feature image

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

We believe in a contrarian betting approach. Why? Because more often than not, the public loses. Sure, they’ll win a few games here and there. They may even go on an epic week-long run. But over the course of the long haul, the house always wins. If it were as simple as betting every favorite, home team and over, Average Joes would be millionaires and Vegas would go bankrupt.


By going contrarian (which typically means taking teams receiving less than 40% of bets), we are able to capitalize on public bias, place ourselves on the side of the house and take advantage of artificially inflated numbers. What exactly is an inflated number? Basically, it’s when lopsided public betting pushes the line further toward the favorite, giving contrarian bettors “free points” to go the other way and grab the dog at a better number.

Previous research has shown that this strategy is profitable in NBA betting and that got me thinking. If inflated lines work for NBA, do they work for the NCAA Tournament?

You better believe it.

Underdogs receiving less than 30% of spread bets with inflated lines (moving from +1 to +2 ,+4 to +6, etc.) have crushed during March Madness (67.7% ATS since 2005). What’s interesting is that, unlike the NBA, they’re still profitable up to the 50% threshold (the high March Madness ticket counts allow contrarians to be a little less disciplined).

However, I was astounded to discover that this system doesn’t just work for dogs with inflated lines in the NCAA Tournament, it also works for favorites with deflated lines.


Example: Duke is getting 35% of bets vs UNC and falls from -4 to -3. The public is overvaluing the Tar Heels and moving the line toward North Carolina, giving Duke backers a profitable “deflated” line at -3.

These situations are rare, but highly profitable. Favorites getting less than 50% of bets with deflated lines one-point or more are 61.8% ATS since 2005 (and even better at the <45% and <40% threshold). This is the same thought process as our famous fade the trendy dog system.

As we’ve detailed for years, the NCAA Tournament is the best time of year to bet against the public. You have an influx of public players getting down on every game (many for the first time all year), which causes ticket counts to skyrocket, leading to increased contrarian value. By analyzing line movement and honing in on inflated (and deflated) line spots, contrarian bettors can increase their ROI even further.


If you have any questions about inflated/deflated lines or NCAA Tournament betting in general, you can find me on twitter @Josh_Insights

Cover photo via Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Pictured: A view of the March Madness logo on a basketball during practice before the East Regional semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden