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    Tourney Prop Bets (03/16/16)

    By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
    Ten prop bets that add more madness to March.

    The NCAA Tournament is here, which means there are numerous opportunities to bet on the madness. Plenty of people will fill out brackets but the more entertaining way to wager on the Big Dance is with prop bets.

    Here is a rundown of props offered by

    Will a No. 1 Seed win the 2016 NCAA Men's Championship?
    • Yes: +120
    • No: -160

    No. 1 seeds have won seven of the last nine championships and 19 of 31 (since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985). So going chalk to win it all isn't a bad move. Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia and Oregon combine to win the title 48.0% of the time. There is value in betting “Yes” (you need at least 45% confidence to place a wager, which is 100/(100+120)).

    Will a No. 2 Seed win the 2016 NCAA Men's Championship?
    • Yes: +250
    • No: -400

    Our most likely champion is Michigan State (19.8%) and combined the No. 2 seeds have a 28.2% chance to cut down the nets in Houston. There is no value in betting “Yes” but also no value in pulling the trigger on the “No” bet either. A No. 2 seed hasn't won it all since UConn in 2004.

    Will a No. 3 Seed win the 2016 NCAA Men's Championship?
    • Yes: +500
    • No: -1000

    West Virginia, Miami (FL), Texas A&M and Utah have a combined 7.4% chance to be the last one standing, which means there is a 92.6% chance that a No. 3 seed will not win the NCAA Tournament. That gives us slight value in betting “No” -1000.

    Will a No. 4 Seed win the 2016 NCAA Men's Championship?
    • Yes: +800
    • No: -1600

    Only twice since 1997 has a team seeded worse than a 3-seed become champion. That doesn't sound good if you want to wager on the No. 4 seeds and our numbers agree as Kentucky, Iowa State, Cal and Duke have just a 9.0% chance to run the table through the Final Four.

    Still, this is another prop you want to avoid altogether. There is not value in betting that the Wildcats, Cyclones, Golden Bears and Blue Devils won't find a way to rattle off six wins either.

    Will a No. 12 Seed win a game in the 2016 NCAA Men's Championship?
    • Yes: -200
    • No: +150

    The 5 vs. 12 matchup, everyone's favorite upset pick. Quick, how many 12-seeds won last year? If you said zero you were correct. However, in the previous seven tournaments the No. 12 seeds went 15-13 per ESPN Stats & Info.

    There is a 75.4% chance that one 12-seed will win its matchup this year giving us value to bet on “Yes”.

    Will a No. 16 Seed advance past the round of 64 of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament?
    • Yes: +1000
    • No: -2000

    No. 1 seeds are 124-0 all-time versus No. 16 seeds. It has been 20 years since a No. 16 seed came within one possession of beating a top seed (per Keith Lipscomb of ESPN). The 16-seeds have a 7.1% chance to pull the biggest upset in history but that isn't enough to lend value to betting “Yes”, even at +1000. Conversely, the bookmakers have put enough juice in this prop to make betting “No” an improbability as well.

    Which No. 1 ranked seed will be the first to be eliminated from the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship?
    • Oregon: 2/3
    • Virginia: 3/1
    • North Carolina: 7/2
    • Kansas: 9/2

    Virginia is just 28% likely to make the Final Four, the lowest probability of any top seed. However, Oregon is just 77% likely to reach the Sweet 16 (compared to Virginia at 83%). The Ducks, a surprise one-seed, could be the first sent home.

    What seed will the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Champion be?

    There was value in backing the top seeds to win it all. With the change in odds for the 2-seeds from 5/2 to 3/1 there is value on them as well. However, I think I would rather bet Kansas (5/1 odds) and Michigan State (11/2 odds) to win straight-up. Combined the two programs have a 38.6% chance to win the title and the payouts are bigger.

    Seed Odds Probability
    1 6/5 48.0%
    2 3/1 28.2%
    3 7/1 7.4%
    4 7/1 9.0%
    5 9/1 5.3%
    6 18/1 0.8%
    7 25/1 0.3%
    8 or higher 20/1 0.6%

    What will be the highest margin of victory during the Round of 64 in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament?
    • Over/Under: 35.5

    Currently, the largest margin of victory in the Round of 64 that we are projecting is 21.3 points, well under the listed total of 35.5 points. However, that is an average of 50,000 simulations. Variance plays a big role in the NCAA Tournament, hence the nickname March Madness. On average, over the last three years the largest margin of victory in the Round of 64 has been 42.6 points.

    What will be the highest point total scored by 1 team during the Round of 64 in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament?
    • Over/Under: 96.5

    Our highest projected point total, thus far, we are still waiting on two more Play-In games to be decided, is 87.4 points. The average highest scoring team in the Round of 64 over the last three seasons has put up 93.6 points.

    It will be interesting to see how the change to a 30-second shot clock will impact these last two prop bets.

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