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March Madness Betting Predictions: Picks Based on Travel Time

March Madness Betting Predictions: Picks Based on Travel Time article feature image

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  • Travel time is typically neglected during March Madness -- but it's an extra datapoint worth internalizing.
  • Since 2014, the Action Network has gleaned data that's indicated the teams with the longest journeys to their Round of 64 destinations haven't necessarily performed well against the spread.
  • Read further to glean the philosophy behind the system and which games it targets today and tomorrow.

Travel time is typically completely ignored — treated as negligible — for March Madness.

There are four days of rest between cities! College kids don’t need as much recovery time!

But if this NCAA Tournament trend is any indication, you should perhaps begin incorporating travel times into your betting portfolio for this season.

Since 2014’s March Madness, the four teams with the longest flights entering the Round of 64 have covered just 39% of the time.

Had you wagered $250 on each of those teams, you’d be down roughly $2,250 over the last eight NCAA Tournaments.

The four teams this year with the longest travel times?

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  • 5-seed Saint Mary’s (flight from Oakland to Albany) vs. 12-seed VCU
  • 15-seed Princeton (flight from Newark/Philadelphia to Sacramento) vs. 2-seed Arizona
  • 15-seed UNC Asheville (flight from Asheville to Sacramento) vs. 2-seed UCLA
  • 5-seed San Diego State (flight from San Diego to Orlando) vs. 12-seed Charleston

Saint Mary’s have the most arduous total journey — unless the program charters a flight. If not, the Gaels will have to take a 30 minute bus ride to Oakland International Airport. Typically, mid- to low-tier college basketball teams bus or fly commercial to games to save cash.

From there, the only way to get to Albany is to take two connecting flights. The total travel time could reach up to 13 hours — and that doesn’t even consider the time before their initial flight and the bus to their hotel in New York’s capital.

While Princeton has among the highest endowments in American higher education, it’s not funneling a ton of that into the athletics programs. As such, there’s little chance the team is going to charter its flight to Sacramento from a local airport this week.

So, it’s likely that the team will have to take a commercial flight from either Newark International Airport (35 miles) or Philadelphia International Airport (45 miles).

That means a roughly 1.5-hour bus ride to the airport an hour and a half before the flight. Then, a six and a half hour flight to Sacramento. With about an hour to the hotel, that travel time totals about 10.5 hours.

UNC Asheville — like Saint Mary’s — will find itself in a world of hurt if the team doesn’t charter a plane out of Asheville. The Bulldogs would connect in Chicago for a total in-air or airport time of about nine hours flying commercial. That doesn’t include transportation to and from the airport.

And while San Diego State can fly direct into Orlando, it’s still a roughly five hour flight, the fourth-longest journey across college basketball.

Here are the market-best spreads for fading these travel-weary teams, as of publish.

  • VCU (+4.5, -108) vs. Saint Mary’s at WynnBet
  • Arizona (-14, -110) vs. Princeton at Caesars
  • UCLA (-17.5, -110) vs. UNC Asheville at PointsBet
  • Charleston (+5.5, -110) vs. San Diego State at PointsBet

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