March Madness is upon us. The time when fans come out of the woodwork at watch endless amounts of basketball in hopes of one thing: utter chaos.
Whether you bet the spread on singular games or just partake in the casual office pool, there is a good chance the NCAA tournament is a normal tradition for you. According to the American Gambling Association, “approximately 40 million” Americans fill out at least one bracket during the 2019 tournament.
While the name might suggest that this is a 30-day event of college hoops, the reality is the tournament last for three extended weekends with games starting on Thursday and running through the following Sunday.
The schedule for this monthlong sprint is set to begin on Sunday, March 15 with the NCAA Selection show on CBS which follows the final conference championship game.
The first tip-off of games begins Tuesday the 17 and Wednesday the 18 in Dayton Ohio. These games will officially set the field of 64 teams and create the first-round match-ups which begin Thursday the 19 and Friday the 20. That weekend the round of 32 will conclude.
The tournament field is not set, but that does not mean that bettors do not have insight into what seed match-ups have the highest possibility for payout.
“The teams to watch this year are those high value mid-majors,” said Elliot Sheets, an editor for elevenwarriors.com and at-large contributor to “The Action Network.”
“Teams like Dayton on the two line or an Iowa on a six line could become very favorable heading into the second week,” Sheets said.
While everyone hopes for upset, statistically the lower seeded teams are hard pressed to pull off that super dog victory.
“A 16-seed has beaten a one seed once in tournament history,” Sheets said, “if you’re really looking for high risk, high pay-out opportunity, look for a favorable 3 vs 14 match-up or a 4 v 13.”
Typically, these seed match-ups give fans the best of the mid-major conference champions and the bottom tier of the power 5 teams.
The other factor Sheets said to look out for was the “Ivy Factor” referring to the Ivy League conference champion.
“Right now, Yale is my projected champion,” said Sheets. “Yale could make some noise in the first round if they get a decent seed… hopefully around 13 to 11.”
Overall the Ivy is 8-34 against the spread in tournament play, but the top of the conference being Yale and Harvard are 3-5 in tournament appearances.
One of the obvious things some bettors do is go straight by seeds and believe that all one seeds are created equal. That is not the case.
“San Diego State is by far the weakest one seed projection currently.” Sheets said.
“The Aztecs are playing in a poor mountain west… most of the conference falls into a quadrant 3 or 4 win,” Sheets said
“They have no room for error in conference tournament play after that UNLV upset,” Sheets said.
Currently all bracket projections are keeping the Aztecs on the one line, but if they suffer an early exit during the conference tournament then Dayton is in the best position to move up to the one line according to Sheets
Projections can always change between now and selection Sunday, conference championship week will still have it say on setting the final field of 64.
One thing is for sure though, this March is going to be filled with basketball, upsets and the possibility of a Cinderella story or two as well.
A full tournament preview will come after selection Sunday with picks, insights and full bracket breakdown.