NCAA Tournament Betting Trends: The Value of No. 12 Seeds vs. No. 5 Seeds in the Round of 64

NCAA Tournament Betting Trends: The Value of No. 12 Seeds vs. No. 5 Seeds in the Round of 64 article feature image
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Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Head coach Joe Pasternack of UCSB.

You hear something similar to this every single March: “You have to pick a 12 seed to beat a five in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.”

Obviously, this is narrative street at work as everyone is trying to sound smart about March Madness brackets at the water cooler.

If you want to blindly pick No. 12 seeds in your bracket, fine, it’s your bracket to do with what you please.

But from an NCAA Tournament betting perspective, we’re less worried about upsets and bracket busters, and much more interested in the teams that will cover the spread, no matter their seed.

With this in mind, I decided to leverage our Bet Labs database to test the “No. 12 seed vs. No. 5 seed” narrative to determine whether the 12s truly do overperform betting market expectations in the Round of 64.

After running the numbers, the results I found were quite unexpected.

NCAA Tournament Betting Trends

When I decided to look at the betting performance of 12th-seeded teams, I fully expected to find nothing there, meaning the No. 12 vs. No. 5 narrative was simply that: a narrative.

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