March Madness Trends: Why Underdogs are Popular for Sweet 16 and Elite Eight

March Madness Trends: Why Underdogs are Popular for Sweet 16 and Elite Eight article feature image
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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Blake Peters #24, Tosan Evbuomwan #20, and Keeshawn Kellman #32 of the Princeton Tigers.

Will the dogs be barking this weekend?

Historical data suggests the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight weekend is the only weekend in the NCAA Tournament where underdogs have been profitable against the spread.

Since 2005, underdogs are 110-87-7 against the spread in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, making them the two most — and only — profitable rounds for dogs in that span.

If a $100 bettor placed a bet on every underdog ATS in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight since 2005, that bettor would be up $1,732.

If a $100 bettor placed a bet on every underdog ATS in all other rounds, they would be down $4,233.

So it's safe to say this is a good week to bet underdogs. And bettors have been on all of the dogs already.

As it stands, there are five underdogs getting more public action than the favored opponent. If that holds when the betting market closes, it would be the most public underdogs in the Sweet 16 that we have tracked in our database going back to 2005.

Florida Atlantic is a popular 5-point dog against Tennessee. The Owls are getting 56% of the bets.

Miami is the most popular underdog so far this week. The Hurricanes are 7.5-point dogs against Houston and are receiving 69% of the tickets.

Princeton has been the darling of March Madness, earning a Sweet 16 bid as a No. 15 seed. The love from the public isn't going away anytime soon as the Tigers are getting 64% of the bets as 10-point underdogs vs. Creighton.

Those are the three games where it appears the underdog will close as the public side. Michigan State vs. Kansas State, Gonzaga vs. UCLA and San Diego State vs. Alabama are three games that are close to 50-50 splits right now.

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