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NCAA Tournament Betting Trends: How Prominent Head Coaches Have Historically Fared ATS During March Madness

NCAA Tournament Betting Trends: How Prominent Head Coaches Have Historically Fared ATS During March Madness article feature image
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Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Rick Barnes (Tennessee)

After the Madness began on Tuesday, I thought to myself:

“How have these big-time college basketball coaches done for bettor’s bank accounts?”

Luckily, using The Action Network’s BetLabs systems, we can answer that exact question.

So, I dug into the numbers to answer this exact question. I built systems that analyzed how prominent head coaches have fared ATS during the tournament (since 2007), with an extra emphasis on who covers as a dog and who covers as a favorite.

Let’s dig in.


Top Head Coach ATS

Dating back to his time with Florida Gulf Coast, Andy Enfield has been a covering machine in the tournament.

Enfield has made a few notable runs, including taking FGCU to the Sweet 16 in 2013 and USC to the Elite Eight last season.

He’s also a perfect 9-0 in the first round, second round and Sweet 16, with his only failure to cover coming in last season’s Elite Eight.

USC is a 1.5-point favorite against Miami (FL) on Friday. Given the Trojans’ solid interior size, I’d be looking to back Enfield again.

Here are the other prominent head coaches ATS in March:

Coach ATS Record Profit (Units)
Andy Enfield 9-1-0 +7.55
John Calipari 31-22-3 +7.31
John Groce 6-1-0 +4.82
Matt Painter 16-11-0 +4.00
Chris Beard 9-5-0 +3.51
Jay Wright 22-18-0 +2.95

Big-time coaches that did well but were left out of this year’s tournament, or retired (or were fired), include:

  • John Beilein: 19-9-3, +9.16 units
  • Billy Donovan: 20-10-0, +9.15 units
  • Dana Altman: 15-6-1, +8.06 units
  • Brad Stevens: 12-4-1, +7.31 units
  • Chris Mack: 12-5-2, +6.47

The list of coaches who have fared poorly in the tournament is slightly more enticing.

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Worst Head Coach ATS

Rick Barnes is 1-12 ATS in his last 13 NCAA Tournament games, adding up to a stellar 7-18 ATS record overall.

This dates back to his time with Texas, although it’s worth noting it only goes back to 2007. So, this streak doesn’t include his runs to the Sweet 16 (2002), Elite Eight (2006) or Final Four (2003).

But it’s probably worth fading Tennessee again this year, even if the Vols look reinvigorated with point guard Kennedy Chandler.

Here’s the list of the other worst ATS coaches during the Big Dance:

Coach ATS Record Profit (Units)
Rick Barnes 7-18-0 -11.27
Mike Brey 5-13-0 -8.19
Greg McDermott 3-9-1 -6.21
Mark Few 19-24-1 -5.94

I’ve already bet against Greg McDermott in the first round this year, as he’s just 2-5-1 ATS in his last eight R64 games.

I also think Creighton is due for a letdown game after a big-time Big East Tournament run — especially against a San Diego State squad that’s too tough with its interior defense and is led by a rising star in Matt Bradley.



Top Underdog Coaches in Tourney

March is known for big upsets. So which coach in the field this season is the most dangerous when catching points?

Well, it’s Enfield again. But I’d like to shine a light on John Groce:

Groce is 5-1 ATS when catching points in the Big Dance dating back to his time with Ohio. Groce twice led his Bobcats to major upsets, taking down Georgetown in the 2010 tournament as a 14-seed and then marching to the Sweet 16 in 2012 as a 13-seed.

I’d probably keep an eye on Akron this week, which will play UCLA in the first round.

Other top underdog coaches include:

Coach ATS Record (as an underdog) Profit (Units)
Andy Enfield 6-1-0 +4.75
Bruce Pearl 7-2-0 +4.76
Shaka Smart 7-2-0 +4.62
John Groce 5-1-0 +3.9
John Calipari 5-1-1 +3.56
Ray Harper 3-0-0 +2.88
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Top Favorites Coaches

Dating back to his time with Memphis, Coach Cal has been a buzzsaw laying points.

Well, maybe not a buzzsaw. But he is the most profitable coach ATS when laying points in the dance since 2007.

This year, the Wildcats look like a wagon. They’ve clinched the two seed and are already laying over 17 points against Longwood.

Of course, this version of the Wildcats only went 15-16 ATS this season. So, perhaps tread carefully.

It’s also worth mentioning Cal is 5-1-1 ATS as an underdog in the dance.

Other top favorites coaches include:

Coach ATS Record (as a favorite) Profit (Units)
John Calipari 26-21-2 +3.68
Jim Boeheim 11-7-0 +3.42
Jay Wright 17-13-0 +3.19
Scott Drew 10-7-0 +2.30

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