March Madness is around the corner, which means it’s time to dissect the NCAA men’s basketball season and start preparing to make bracket selections.
Much like any other major sports tournament, it can be enticing for bettors to get drawn into taking a No. 1 seed. Especially in the NCAA Tournament, where at least one top-ranked school has advanced to the Final Four the last five years.
It is, however, very rare for all four No. 1 seeds in the tournament to reach the semifinals. In fact, it’s only been done once — in 2008 when top seeded Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA all reached the Final Four.
Just three years later, no No. 1 seeds qualified for March Madness’ Final Four in Houston. Third-ranked UConn won the tournament, defeating eighth-seeded Butler in the national championship.
Don’t be deterred from taking a No. 1 seed or two, but make sure to research the best ones to put your money on. For instance, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will more than likely earn a top seed for the 2017 tournament.
However, Gonzaga have never advanced past the Elite 8, which makes the one-time Cinderella story a huge gamble heading into March Madness.
The Kansas Jayhawks, on the other hand, have captured three NCAA national championships and will be a No. 1 seed worth putting your money on at the 2017 tournament.
The best way of determining which No. 1 team to back is using a stat called adjusted efficiency margin, which measures the point differential between a specific team and the average team over 100 possessions.
As an example, the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats, who are also expected to be a No. 1 seed, are playing to a 1.15 AEM and are outscoring opponents on average by 14.5 points. But keep in mind only three teams in tournament history have ever won consecutive titles.
If you’re looking for a dark horse, consider putting your money on a low mid-seed heading into the tournament on a hot streak.
The Michigan Wolverines are a perfect example of that as the Blue and Gold have upset a couple ranked teams down the stretch and are likely to earn an eight or nine seed in the NCAA Tournament. On top of that, the Wolverines have a offensive efficiency rating of 1.143, making them a very attractive pick to go deep in the tournament.
There’s no other college basketball team in the country that scores more points than the UCLA Bruins, who are averaging 91.3 per game. As a potential No. 3 seed in the tournament, watch for the Bruins to make a serious run at its their first national title since 1995.
In NCAA Tournament bracket betting, the goal is to be less wrong than anyone else. Be selective with your major upsets. Save those for the second and third rounds as the top two seeds from both sides of the bracket will more than likely advance out of the opening round as a No. 1 seed has never been beaten by a No. 16.