March Madness Final Four Betting Trends, Stats, Notes: Action Network Betting Primer

March Madness Final Four Betting Trends, Stats, Notes: Action Network Betting Primer article feature image

Connecticut, San Diego State, Florida Atlantic and Miami. The Final Four is set!

The NCAA Tournament has been a spectacle. From Fairleigh Dickinson to Princeton to Florida Atlantic's run to the Final Four — it's been a heck of a ride. Let's finish strong.

Welcome to the March Madness Final Four edition of Action Network's betting primer.

All data, stats and trends are updated as of Saturday, April 1, 12 p.m. ET.


1. One & Done

For the first time in the seeding era (since 1979), we had no No. 1 seed and just one 1 or 2 seed in the Elite 8.

Additionally, this will be just the fourth Final Four with no No. 1 seed. The previous three Final Fours without a No. 1 seed produced these champions:

  • 2011 (3) Connecticut (25-1 pre-tournament)
  • 2006 (3) Florida (20-1 pre-tournament)
  • 1980 (2) Louisville (8-1 pre-tournament)

Connecticut and Florida own two of the six longest pre-tournament odds to win it all in the seeding era.

2. Time For Chalk

Connecticut enters the Final Four as the betting favorite. Historically, Connecticut (-125) or San Diego State (+400) will likely win the national championship. In 17 of the past 18 Final Fours, one of the two favorites entering the weekend went on to win it all. The one exception was in 2014 —  when UConn won it all.

3. An Unlikely Final Four

Odds to Win National Championship Entering NCAA Tournament:

  • Connecticut: +1600
  • Miami: +5000
  • San Diego State: +8000
  • Florida Atlantic: +20000

If you add up the four final teams' national title odds entering the dance, they would add up to +34,600 — which is the 3rd-highest total in the seeding era. 2023 and 2011 are the only two years where two 80-1 or higher teams made the Final Four.

4. Fade The Public Darling?

In the Bet Labs database, which dates back to 2005, the public (51% of spread tickets or more) is 23-27-1 ATS in the Final Four and National Championship Game. Most of the damage has been recent. The public was 0-3 ATS in last year's Final Four and is 5-13 ATS since 2016.

5. A Total Rollercoaster

This season has been a rollercoaster for betting over/unders:

  • Overs hit at a 47.2% clip in November, 50.1% in December, 53.8% in January and 54.8% in February.
  • In conference tournaments, unders went 130-111 (53.9%).
  • In the Round of 64 and First Four, unders were the rage, going 27-9 (75%).
  • Finally, since the Sweet 16, overs have a small edge at 8-4 in March Madness.

March Madness 2023 

Click on one of the categories below to navigate to specific content.


Futures Market & Notes 

  • Here's a look at the BetMGM futures market, from opening to current lines to win it all:


What You Need To Know…

  • At BetMGM, Florida Atlantic did not show up on the futures board until early February at 250-1, then again on March 16th at 200-1 odds.
  • Longest odds at BetMGM this season for each Final Four team: Connecticut (80-1), San Diego State (100-1), Miami (100-1), Florida Atlantic (250-1)

Highest Odds to Win Title Entering NCAA Tournament – Champions Since 1978

  • UConn is highest at 100-1 prior to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. If Florida Atlantic wins it all, they would take the title for "biggest longshot" in the seeding era.
  • Only four teams above 20-1 entering March Madness have won the title since 1978: 2014 UConn, 1985 Villanova, 2011 UConn, 1983 NC State
  • We’ve had 44 NCAA Tournament champs since 1978. Nine had odds of 15-1 or higher entering the tournament (20.5%).

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Final Four Matchups 

9

Florida Atlantic

5

San Diego State

Florida Atlantic

Opened: 2500-1
Entering Tournament: 200-1

+ The Owls opened the season with 2,500-1 odds. They have the 2nd-highest preseason odds to get a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament since the 2008-09 season. Wofford who got a No. 7 seed in 2019 and was 5,000-1 in the preseason. It lost in the Round of 32.

+ Florida Atlantic is the 4th team since 1985 to reach the Elite 8 after entering the season with no NCAA Tournament wins. The other three were Gonzaga in 1999, George Mason in 2006 and Saint Peter's in 2022. The Owls are just the 5th team in the seeding era to reach a Final Four and get their first tourney win in the same year: 2006 George Mason, 1983 Georgia, 1981 Virginia and 1979 Indiana State (only one to get to title game).

If FAU gets to title game: 1st team enter tourney with no wins as a program and make title game since Larry Bird and Indiana State in 1979.

If FAU wins title game: 1st team enter tourney with no wins as a program and win the title since Loyola in 1963.

Fun fact from FAU's game notes: "FAU is the first team to make the Final Four in two or less tournament appearances since Seton Hall in 1989."

+ Florida Atlantic is 3-1 ATS in March Madness, but overall, it’s 24-11-1 ATS this season, the best ATS win percentage for any team left.

+ The Owls have won 11 consecutive games, which is tied with Merrimack for the longest active win streak in the nation. This will be just the 3rd Final Four matchup since 2008 where both teams are on at least an 8-game win streak:

2018: Loyola-Chicago vs. Michigan
2015: Kentucky vs. Wisconsin

+ In the 2023 college basketball postseason, Conference USA is 17-1 straight up and 14-4 against the spread. A $100 bettor would be up $860 taking C-USA on the spread in the CBB postseason. Here is the ATS profit record for a conference in a single postseason against non-conference opponents:

  • 2021 Pac-12: 14-2 ATS (+$1,130 on $100/game)
  • 2006 SEC: 18-6 ATS (+$1,109 on $100/game)
  • 2022 ACC: 17-6 ATS (+$943 on $100/game)
  • 2012 Pac-12: 15-5-1 ATS (+$922 on $100/game)
  • 2023 Conference USA: 14-4 ATS (+$860 on $100/game)

+ Florida Atlantic is 35-3 straight up this season. If it wins the title and ends up 37-3, it will tie 2017 Gonzaga and 1987 UNLV for the 2nd-most total wins for a non-power 6 school behind 2008 Memphis' 38 wins.

+ This will be Conference USA's first Final Four since Memphis in 2008. We all know how that ended:

April 7, 2008: In the National Championship Game, Memphis blows a 9-point lead to Kansas with 2:00 left in regulation leading to a Mario Chalmers (@mchalmers15) game-tying three in the final seconds to send it into OT.

The Jayhawks would go on to win 75-68. pic.twitter.com/P5BDR7mpaH

— This Day In Sports Clips (@TDISportsClips) April 7, 2021

San Diego State

Opened: 66-1
Entering Tournament: 80-1

+ The Mountain West had never been to the Elite 8 prior to this season (0-6 straight up and 1-5 against the spread in the Sweet 16). Now, the conference is heading to its first Final Four.

  • The streak is in jeopardy. Since Arizona in 1997, no national champion has been based west of Texas. After UCLA and Gonzaga lost in the Elite 8, it is now up to San Diego State to break the trend.

  • As a 5-seed, San Diego State has a chance to pull off history. A 5-seed has never won it all. A 4-seed or higher has won four times (all since 1985). A 3-seed or higher has won five times since 1990 (14 UConn, 11 UConn, 06 Florida, 03 Syracuse, 97 Arizona).

National Champions by Seed:

  • 1: 26
  • 2: 7
  • 3: 5
  • 4: 1
  • 6: 2
  • 7: 1
  • 8: 1
  • Few trends for the Aztecs this season:
  • San Diego State is 11-17-2 against the second-half spread in lined games this season, according to Bet Labs. That has not been the trend in March, though. Since March 1, the Aztecs are 7-0 straight up and 5-1-2 against the spread in the second half.
  • What San Diego State does best is grind it out and slow down the game. The under is 22-13 in Aztecs games this season, which is top-15 in the country, but recently it's been an under-fest as the past 12 San Diego State games have all gone under the total. Since February 1st, the under is 14-1 in Aztec games, going under the total by 12.7 PPG.
  • According to Bet Labs, only one team has played any NCAA Tournament game on at least a 10-game under streak — 2016 Oklahoma entering the Round of 64.

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5

Miami

4

Connecticut

Miami

Opened: 80-1
Entering Tournament: 50-1

+ The Miami Hurricanes have been on quite an underdog ride under Jim Larranaga. They are 9-2 against the spread as underdogs this season, 20-5 ATS as dogs over the past two seasons and 33-12 against the spread as underdogs over the past three years. In that 3-year span, Larranaga is the most profitable coach in college basketball as an underdog

  • Larranaga is the 3rd head coach to bring two schools to their first Final Four, doing so with Miami and George Mason. The other two head coaches are Forddy Anderson and Hugh Durham.
  • Since the 2012 NCAA Tournament, only one Final Four team has ranked outside the Top 40 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency that season: Kansas (47th) in 2018. 16 of those 32 semifinalists ranked Top-10 in that metric.

+ Miami is the best free throw shooting team left in the field (though, Connecticut is pretty good, too). Good free-throw shooting teams have excelled recently in March Madness. Overall, teams that shoot 75% or higher vs. teams that shoot under that mark are 55.8% ATS since 2005, including 68-45-2 ATS since 2018 and 88-57-4 ATS since 2016.

Miami or Connecticut would be matches for this entering the National Championship game.

  • If Miami cuts down the nets in Houston, Larranaga will not only become the oldest coach to win a National Championship at 73 years, 4 months and 21 days old, but he will also become the oldest coach to win a title across the four major sports plus college basketball and football.
  • Texas was 22-0 this season when leading at the half and it took a monster second half comeback for the Canes to advance to the Final Four. Miami has covered the second half spread in all four NCAA Tournament wins this season.
  • March 26th is a special day for Larranaga:

March 26, 2006: Jim Larrañaga takes George Mason to the Final Four.

March 26, 2023: He takes Miami to the Final Four.

Legendary. pic.twitter.com/F430InCzNM

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) March 26, 2023

Connecticut

Opened: 80-1
Entering Tournament: 16-1

+ Dan Hurley has coached in 10 NCAA Tournament games and the over is 7-3 in those contests.

+ UConn is back in the Final Four. In UConn’s past six trips to the Sweet 16, it has been to: six Elite Eights, five Final Fours and is 3-for-3 in National Championships. Overall UConn is 8-1 in the Final Four and National Championship — the best win percentage among all programs (min. 3 games).

+ Connecticut was the only Sweet 16 team that has won the NCAA Tournament since 2000. Among the Final Four teams, the Huskies are the only team to ever win the title.

  • 2023 will be the first Final Four without a single former McDonald's All-American in the seeding era (via Elias Sports Bureau & @ESPNStatsInfo). Not only that — Connecticut has the only four players ranked inside the top-50 playing in the Final Four for the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI).

The Final Four doesn't feature a single consensus top-30 recruit, per RSCI.

Here are the highest-rated prospects:

#37 — Donovan Clingan, UConn
#47 — Samson Johnson, UConn
#48 — Jordan Hawkins, UConn
#50 — Andre Jackson, UConn
#56 — Harlond Beverly, Miami

— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) March 27, 2023

  • Connecticut has absolutely dominated non-conference opponents. The Huskies are 15-0 straight up and 14-1 against the spread when facing a team not in the Big East this year.

+ If Connecticut is able to cut down the nets, it will become the fourth program to win it all under three different head coaches (Dan Hurley, Kevin Ollie and Jim Calhoun). The others are Kentucky (4), North Carolina (3) and Kansas (3).

+ This is the 10th National Championship to be decided in the state of Texas — Connecticut has gone 3-for-3 in National Titles in the lone star state (2004, 2011, 2014), with the 2011 tournament also set in Houston.

  • The Huskies are the 10th team to win their first four NCAA Tournament games by 15 points or more. Only five of the previous nine teams went on to win it all. The last team in this spot was Gonzaga in 2021 and they lost, while Connecticut back in 2004 was the last to win it all. An even greater feat, UConn is the first tourney team seeded 4th or worse to win 4 straight tourney games by double-digits.
  • The Big East is 9-5 against the spread during March Madness this year. A $100 bettor would be up $310 — the most profitable conference ATS in the tourney.

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The Coaches Database 

  • Dating back to 1978, the start of the seeding era in the NCAA Tournament, here is a search-based database of every head coach's ATS record in the Final Four and National Championship. Search a name and enjoy.


How does coaching experience — specifically Final Four experience — impact results?

Situation: Jim Larranaga's 2nd trip vs. Dan Hurley's 1st trip.

+ In NCAA Tournament history, the coach with more Final Four experience is 117-68 SU (63.2%) in the Final Four and National Championship game. In just the Final Four, they are 74-45 SU (62.2%).

+ Since 1978 (start of seeding), the experienced Final Four coach is 68-43 SU (61.3%) and 59-51-1 ATS (53.6%) in the Final Four and National Championship game. In just the Final Four, they are 42-30 SU (58.3%) and 37-34-1 ATS (52.1%).

+ Since 1978, 45 head coaches have entered their first Final Four game vs. a coach with Final Four experience. Those head coaches are 20-25 SU and 24-20-1 ATS.


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Bet Labs Systems & Info 

Let's take a look at a few NCAA Tournament Final Four and National Title PRO Systems. Click each system for matches, bets and detailed profitability charts.

Notes: In a Final Four/Semifinal or Championship game scenario — both in the NCAA Tournament and in other postseason play — this system is 147-109-3 (57.4%) since 2005.


Notes: I made an adjustment to one of our PRO Systems. This looks at a public over in any postseason semifinal or final.


Notes: This system targets undervalued teams coming off of a good defensive performance. The system is 59-29 ATS in the Sweet 16 or later in the NCAA Tournament.


» Return to the table of contents «


Trends & Notes To Know 

Losing Power

+ No national champion has come from a non-power conference since the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in 1990 — 26 consecutive champions coming from the powers of college basketball entering 2023.


Inside Houston

+ The Final Four is in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium. Here are a few facts:

  • This will be the fourth Final Four set in the city of Houston. Winners: UCLA, UConn, Villanova
  • The Final Four will be the 14th college basketball game played at Reliant Stadium/NRG Stadium since 2005. The under is 8-5 in those 13 games, going under the total by 5.8 PPG. However, the 2016 Final Four in Reliant saw all three games go over the total.
  • Looking at the 1H and 2H totals, 1H is 3-4-1 to the under, while the 2H is 6-2 to the under.

Rest & Prep

+ Similar to the Sweet 16, the Final Four gives an opportunity for coaches to gameplan. Using our Bet Labs database, here are the against the spread records for the four remaining coaches in this spot

Coaches Records with Extended Prep (4+ Days)

Dan Hurley: 95-69-7 ATS (+$1,967)

Brian Dutcher: 58-39 ATS (+$1,433)

Dusty May: 39-24-1 ATS (+$1,193)

Jim Larranaga: 139-127-7 ATS (+$478)


Longshot Caution

+ Since 2005, we’ve had 14 Final Fours where there was a single team who had the highest seed entering the two games. Those "high seeds" are 2-12 straight up in the Final Four.


First To The Final Four

+ Florida Atlantic, San Diego State and Miami had never been to the Final Four until this year. For the first time in the seeding era, this will be the first time three teams will play in the Final Four in their first ever appearance.


Conference Tournaments Matter.

  • Since seeding began in 1978, every NCAA champion to play in a conference tournament made it to at least their conference semifinals (won 1 game) — 1998 tournament and on. With Kansas State's loss vs. Florida Atlantic, that streak will continue.

Owl Love

  • Florida Atlantic is 35-3. So, calling them "cinderella" may be a stretch. But they are now a part of history:

Highest Pre-Tournament Odds to Win Title — Teams to Make Final Four

2018: Loyola-Chicago (380-1)

2011: VCU (300-1)

2017: South Carolina (280-1)

2016: Syracuse (275-1)

2011: Butler (200-1)

2023: Florida Atlantic (200-1)


Ignore The Margin

+ Teams to win by double-digits in the Elite Eight or Final Four, facing a team who just won by single digits are just 15-14 ATS in their next game since 2005, including just 10-11 ATS in the Final Four.


A Florida Team(s)

+ Florida Atlantic and Miami make their Final Four debuts on Saturday. The last time we saw two teams from the same state make their Final Four debuts? La Salle and Penn State all the way back in 1954.

Saturday will be the 11th Final Four where two teams from the same state are participating — also the third consecutive Final Four where that is the case (2023 Florida, 2022 North Carolina, 2021 Texas).


  • In our Bet Labs database, only three teams have closed with at least 63% of the tickets in the Final Four or National Championship game — and those three teams are 0-3 straight up and against the spread. Each time the public side was the favorite and lost by 7 points or more. Overall, public sides are 23-27-1 ATS in the Final Four and title game, including 0-3 ATS in 2022 and are 5-13 ATS since 2016.

Connecticut currently has 62% of the tickets as a 5.5-point favorite against Miami in the Final Four.

Biggest Public Sides in Final Four & Title Game Since 2005

Team
Opponent
Spread Bet %/Game Results
Kansas
2008 Final Four
UNC (-2.5): 70% tickets
Kansas, 84-66
Kansas
2008 National Title
Memphis (-1.5): 65% tickets
Kansas, 75-68
UCLA
2006 Final Four
LSU (-1.5): 63% tickets
UCLA, 59-45

Tighten Up

+ In the National Championship Game since 2011, the second half under is 9-2, going under the total by 3.9 PPG and one of the two losses was the Virginia-Texas Tech overtime game.


  • Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1975, here are the biggest upsets in either the Final Four or National Title. The only team to lose twice in the mini tourney as 7-point favorites or more was Oklahoma in 1988 and 2002. The biggest upset? Of course Duke losing to Connecticut in 1999 and Georgetown falling to Villanova in 1985.

Worst NCAA Tournament Betting Losses in Final Four & Title Game

1985: Georgetown (-9.5) lost to Villanova

1999: Duke (-9.5) lost to Connecticut

1991: UNLV (-9) lost to Duke

1998: North Carolina (-8.5) lost to Utah

1988: Oklahoma (-8) lost to Kansas

2014: Florida (-7) lost to Connecticut

2002: Oklahoma (-7) lost to Indiana

1983: Houston (-7) lost to NC State


» Return to the table of contents «


Historical odds history via Sports Odds History

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