NCAA Tournament Betting Tip: Slow-Paced Underdogs Are Undervalued

NCAA Tournament Betting Tip: Slow-Paced Underdogs Are Undervalued article feature image
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Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Purdue Boilermakers guard Ryan Cline (14) and guard Carsen Edwards

  • March Madness bettors favor college basketball teams that play fast and score more points, often overlooking slow-paced squads.
  • Using Bet Labs, we share a profitable against-the-spread system that exploits pace in the NCAA Tournament.

The betting public loves points. Teams that play fast often score more points based on pace alone. These up-tempo squads usually receive a disproportionate amount spread tickets because of their scoring.

The lopsided betting often leads to inflated lines, which means slow-paced teams can be undervalued.

To test this theory, we used the Bet Labs database to determine how pace impacts against-the-spread (ATS) results in the NCAA Tournament.

Pace is measured by the number of a team’s possessions per 40 minutes. The higher the number the faster the team’s tempo. North Carolina scored 86.1 points per game (third best in the nation) and was the fastest team in the tournament, averaging 78.0 possessions per game.

Fellow 1-seed Virginia is the slowest team in the country. UVA averages 62.7 possessions per game. As a result, the Cavaliers have scored 71.8 points per game (166th).

Since 2010 when we began tracking pace data, teams with a pace of 70 or less have gone 302-282-18 (51.7%) ATS. Slow-paced underdogs offer the most value.

Underdogs with a pace of 70 or less have gone 163-124-11 (57%) ATS since 2010. Teams with a slow and methodical offense can shorten the game by milking the shot clock, which allows these underdogs to stay competitive and cover the spread.

There are two slow-paced teams looking to shorten the game on Saturday in the Elite Eight. If you’d like to see matches for this system during the rest of the tournament  try Bet Labs for a month.

Elite Eight System Picks

  • Texas Tech (+4) vs. Gonzaga (6:09 p.m. ET, TBS)
  • Purdue (+4.5) vs. Virginia (8:49 p.m. ET, TBS)
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