March Madness Bracket

Betting Trends & Stats That Could Help Predict 2018 March Madness

Written by on February 16, 2018

March Madness is right around the corner, frankly the only time that most casual bettors care about college basketball. If I knew which team was going to win the national title, I’d probably not tell you, bet it myself and go retire on a yacht. Sadly, I don’t know but here are some March Madness betting trends to keep in mind come the Big Dance.

Betting Trends & Stats That Could Help Predict 2018 March Madness

Don’t Bet On a Final Four Newbie Coach

The NBA is a players’ league – it largely doesn’t matter who the coach is. If you have a superstar on your roster, you have a legitimate shot to win it all in the NBA. Nowadays, you generally need two. The best players in college basketball don’t always cut down the nets. But the best coaches do.Since 1990, the only coaches to win on their first trip to the Final Four are Jim Harrick (UCLA, 1995), Tubby Smith (Kentucky, 1998), Jim Calhoun (UConn, 1999), Bill Self (Kansas, 2008) and Kevin Ollie (UConn, 2014). Of course, last year’s champion was North Carolina, and Roy Williams is a Hall of Famer who had plenty of Final Four (and national title) experience at both Kansas and North Carolina.One school that stands out in this regard is Arizona, which is +1000 at to win it all. The Cats have as much talent as anyone – maybe the second-most overall behind Duke. But Sean Miller is arguably the best active coach to never reach a Final Four. In last year’s tournament, heavily favored Arizona was knocked off in the Sweet 16 by Xavier. It almost looked as if Arizona was unprepared. The Wildcats were noticeably more nervous and disjointed against Xavier than they had been for most of the season. Arizona’s best offensive player, 7’0” freshman center Lauri Markkanen, didn’t touch the ball for the final 11 minutes. He’s now a star rookie with the Bulls.Miller has knocked very hard at the Final Four door four times by reaching the Elite Eight –  three times at Arizona and once at Xavier. During his seven seasons at Arizona, he has taken his team to the NCAA tournament’s second weekend five times.Another coach who falls into this category would be Tony Bennett of top-ranked Virginia. The Wahoos are +500 to win the first national title in school history. They haven’t reached a Final Four since 1984.

NCAA Basketball Betting Tips for 2018 March Madness Tournament

Rankings Do Matter

The AP Poll does matter when it comes to picking an eventual national champion. Want proof? In 21 of the last 25 years, the national champion has been ranked in the top 10 of the final AP poll in January. Then again, in three of the last five seasons, the national champion was ranked outside of the AP top 10 (North Carolina in 2017, UConn in 2014 and Louisville in 2013) at the end of January.The teams in the last AP Top 10 for January were Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Duke, Michigan State, Xavier, Kansas, Cincinnati, Arizona and Texas Tech. Which of those schools are led by coaches who have never reached the Final Four? I mentioned Arizona and Virginia. Also, Xavier, Purdue, Cincinnati and Texas Tech.

No Big Ten, Pac-12 Or Mid Major

Can you believe the Big Ten hasn’t won a national title since Michigan State did in 2000? That team was led by the “Flintstones” – Flint natives Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Charlie Bell. This year’s best player is sophomore Miles Bridges. He’s also from Flint.The Pac-12 hasn’t had a champion since Coach Lute Olson’s team in 1997. When the Oregon Ducks beat Kansas in a regional final last season, they became the first team from the Pac-12 to make a Final Four since 2008. Oregon would lose to North Carolina.Stanford made the Final Four in 1998, but fell to Kentucky in a national semifinal. (Utah lost to Kentucky in the title game that season, but the Utes were not in the conference at that time). In 2001, Arizona made a run to the National Championship Game, but fell to Duke in the final. UCLA made the NCAA Championship final in 2006, but lost to Florida. The Bruins returned to the Final Four in 2007, but fell to Florida in a national semifinal. UCLA got back again in 2008 but lost to Memphis in a semifinal.The only Pac-12 school I give any shot this year is Arizona. I believe Purdue and Ohio State are overrated in the Big Ten but the Spartans have a chance.Meanwhile, no team from outside a Power 6 conference (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 & SEC) has won it all since that absolutely stacked UNLV team in 1990. Of course, the Rebels made it all the way to the following season’s Final Four without a loss but were upset by Duke.