Is Betting on March Madness Favorites a Good Strategy?

Posted by Aaron . on March 15, 2016 in

There is a reason why some teams are set as favorites and others are not, of course. The favorite teams have won more games against superior competition, while the underdogs are simply glad to be in the tournament, in most cases. So in the majority of cases, picking the favorite is a good strategy — depending on the NCAAB betting line.

Is Betting on March Madness Favorites a Good Strategy?


Some are obvious. Take the matchup between Kansas and Austin Peay. Kansas (30-4) was a dominant team in Big 12 play and locked down their twelfth straight conference title. Austin Peay (18-17) is a team that made it by winning its (much smaller) conference tournament. Kansas is the #1 seed in the South bracket, while Austin Peay is the #16 seed. It’s pretty much a no-brainer to take the Jayhawks straight up.

Of course, you won’t get a straight-up wager on this game. You’ll get a line, maybe 15 points, maybe 25. Then you have to decide whether Kansas will be able to beat Austin Peay by that many points. On a normal night, that’s probably a no-brainer, but in the tournament, when Austin Peay will be slinging rocks at Goliath all night long and Kansas simply might empty their bench down the stretch, a 25-point line might be a little flimsy.

So how do you determine whether to bet on favorites or not? Here are some rules to live by.

Put the odds to work for you

Before you decide that all 11-seeds will beat all 6-seeds, take a look at the lines. The oddsmakers have put a lot of time into researching the matchups and have determined which upsets are more likely than others. You can do your own research as well (and you should), but the oddsmakers can confirm the findings that you have — or give you a healthy correction on your own impulses. After all, if Tulsa gets by Michigan into the tournament, and you are a Tulsa grad, you might just decide that Tulsa will go all the way to the Final Four. Looking at the odds will help keep you from making that (likely) mistake.

Look at how the teams are playing now

A team like Iowa is like the Titanic with the water filling the lower sections. Sure, they were great early in the season, but they’ve been losing big games left and right for a month now. When the tournament comes, their mental state will still be extremely fragile, and they could go down in flames in the first round. I’m not putting a dime on Iowa in the tournament because even if they can fake their way to the Sweet 16, they won’t cover any lines and will be out of the bracket quickly. Present form is a huge factor in how teams are playing. That’s why a team like Connecticut or Wisconsin is a lot more impressive to me than a team than Maryland or Iowa, because they have won a lot lately and may be able to push that momentum into a deep tournament run.