March Value (01/27/16)

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

March Madness will be here sooner than you think. Before the tournament tips off, we look for value (using our most recent simulation of Bracketology) in the NCAA Tournament futures.

There are 68 teams that will make the Big Dance but only 55 teams currently have odds to win it all. Of those teams, there are only 22 squads with better than a one percent chance to cut down the nets.

Which of these teams are worth betting to win March Madness?

To determine if a team has value we look at what their current odds are to win the NCAA Tournament and compare that to our projected odds that they win the National Championship. For example, Duke is listed at 14/1 to win the title, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Blue Devils they would need to cut down the nets 6.7% (which is 1/(1+14)) of the time. We project the defending champions to win it all 5.0% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at 14/1 odds.

Oklahoma Sooners
Current odds: 8/1, Chance needed in order to place a wagers: 11.1%
Oklahoma wins the tournament 13.9% of the time

The Sooners are not No. 1 in our Power Rankings but Oklahoma is still the most likely team to win the NCAA Tournament (at least in this iteration). Buddy Hield leads a balanced OU squad that is the only team in the country that is top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Iowa Hawkeyes
Current odds: 14/1, Chance needed in order to place a wagers: 6.7%
Iowa wins the tournament 11.7% of the time

The Hawkeyes have already beaten five ranked teams on their journey to the tourney and while they have earned a No. 2 seed in the most recent Bracketology, Iowa is being placed in the Region of Death. There are eight teams in the Midwest region that rank in our Top 35. Path and seed in the tournament are critical to every team's potential success. Despite the brutal draw, there is value in backing Iowa at 14/1 odds. If the Hawkeyes continue their excellent play, a No. 1 seed and an easier path to the Final Four could be in store.

Saint Mary's Gaels
Current odds: 100/1, Chance needed in order to place a wagers: 1.0%
Saint Mary's wins the tournament 3.2% of the time

The Gaels are a Mid­­-major ready to make noise in the Big Dance. Saint Mary's is top ten in offensive efficiency (No. 1 in field goal percentage and No. 2 in three-point shooting percentage). The Gaels are poised to make a run in the tournament. Playing in the same region as Iowa, Saint Mary's has better than a 30 percent chance to reach the Sweet 16 as a No. 7 seed. Backing a team that can shoot lights out makes a 100/1 bet not feel like a longshot.

Kentucky Wildcats
Current odds: 14/1, Odds needed in order to place a wager: 6.7%
Kentucky wins the tournament 0.6% of the time

Look at those 22 teams below with better than a one percent chance to cut down the nets. Notice anything? Kentucky is not included on the list. The Wildcats have the sixth best odds in Vegas to win it all even though they should be treated as longshots to win the title. Knowing which teams to avoid is just as important as knowing which team to bet.

Below are the odds for each team with at least a one percent or greater chance to win the NCAA Tournament. Click here to see the odds for all teams.

Team Odds Odds Needed Proj. Chance
Oklahoma 8/1 11.1% 13.9%
UNC 6/1 14.3% 12.4%
Iowa 14/1 6.7% 11.7%
Louisville 14/1 6.7% 7.1%
Villanova 14/1 6.7% 7.1%
Duke 14/1 6.7% 5.0%
Kansas 8/1 11.1% 4.4%
Virginia 20/1 4.8% 4.2%
Michigan State 12/1 7.7% 3.6%
Iowa State 28/1 3.4% 3.5%
Saint Mary's 100/1 1.0% 3.2%
West Virginia 28/1 3.4% 3.2%
Texas A&M 28/1 3.4% 2.7%
Notre Dame 100/1 1.0% 2.5%
Purdue 16/1 5.9% 2.3%
Miami (FL) 28/1 3.4% 1.9%
Arizona 33/1 2.9% 1.9%
Xavier 20/1 4.8% 1.8%
Oregon 100/1 1.0% 1.4%
Maryland 12/1 7.7% 1.3%
Wichita State 50/1 2.0% 1.0%
Indiana 50/1 2.0% 1.0%