March Value (03/16/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Finding value in the NCAA Tournament futures. Odds courtesy of

Kentucky, looking to become the first team to finish the season undefeated since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1975-76, is nearly an even money favorite to win the NCAA Tournament. To put that in perspective, last year's top overall seed Florida was 11/2 to win it all.

There are odds for all 68 teams to win the title but we only give 18 teams better than a 1-in-1,000 chance. Which of these teams are worth betting to win the NCAA Tournament?

To determine if a team has value we look at what their current odds are to win March Madness and compare that to our projected odds that they win the National Championship. For example, Kansas is listed at 40/1 to win the title, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Jayhawks they would need to cut down the nets 2.4% (which is 1/(1+40)) of the time. We project Kansas to win it all 0.2% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at 40/1 odds.

Duke Blue Devils

Current odds: 9/1, Chance needed in order to place a wagers: 10.0%
Duke wins the tournament 13.3% of the time

If you are going to bet a team to win the NCAA Tournament then you need to know they can win on the road. Duke beat Wisconsin, Louisville, Virginia and North Carolina on their home courts. Bonus - March Madness is played at neutral sites. All the more reason to get excited about a team that has the most efficient offense in the country and has perhaps the best coach of all-time on the sidelines.

Wisconsin Badgers

Current odds: 17/2, Chance needed in order to place a wagers: 10.5%
Wisconsin wins the tournament 13.3% of the time

The Badgers earned the program's first ever No. 1 seed after rallying from down 11 points in the second half against Michigan State to capture the Big Ten Tournament Championship. Frank Kaminsky leads one of the most balanced teams in the country and has Wisconsin eyeing a second straight trip to the Final Four.

Villanova Wildcats

Current odds: 10/1, Chance needed in order to place a wagers: 9.1%
Wisconsin wins the tournament 10.5% of the time

Nova is on a fifteen game winning streak. The Wildcats ran roughshod over the Big East, one of the best conferences in college basketball. Jay Wright's team has exited the Big Dance early the last few years but Nova is one of two teams with better than a 50% chance of reaching the Final Four.

Kentucky Wildcats

Current odds: 6/5, Odds needed in order to place a wager: 45.5%
Kentucky wins the tournament 44.3% of the time

That tweet pretty much sums it up. Kentucky is an overwhelming favorite to win it all and despite being twice as likely to win the NCAA Tournament as the 2012 Kentucky title team, there is no value in placing a bet on the Wildcats to cut down the nets.

Below are the odds for each team with a projected chance to win the NCAA Tournament.

Team (seed) Odds Proj. Chance Proj. Chance Needed
Kentucky #1 6/5 44.3% 45.5%
Arizona #2 15/2 7.8% 11.8%
Wisconsin #1 17/2 13.3% 10.5%
Duke #1 9/1 13.3% 10.0%
Villanova #1 10/1 10.5% 9.1%
Virginia #2 10/1 1.6% 9.1%
Gonzaga #2 16/1 3.5% 5.9%
Notre Dame #3 25/1 1.9% 3.8%
Iowa State #3 33/1 1.8% 2.9%
Utah #5 33/1 0.4% 2.9%
Kansas #2 40/1 0.2% 2.4%
Michigan State #7 40/1 0.1% 2.4%
North Carolina #4 40/1 0.2% 2.4%
Baylor #3 50/1 0.1% 2.0%
Oklahoma #3 50/1 0.4% 2.0%
Wichita State #7 50/1 0.1% 2.0%
Northern Iowa #5 66/1 0.2% 1.5%
Davidson #10 300/1 0.1% 0.3%