Play-in Games Signal the Start of NCAA March Madness

March Madness

If you count the play-in games, the NCAA Basketball Tournament is technically underway. Beginning Thursday, 64 teams will hit the hardwood to begin “The Dance”.  Tuesday night Pitt defeated Mississippi State 60-59 while Texas A&M-Corpus Christi held off Southeast Missouri State 75-71 to win their respective play-in games. The #16 seeded Islanders will face #1 Alabama on Thursday while the #11 seeded Panthers advance to a Friday matchup against #6 Iowa.

If you’re wagering on the NCAA Basketball Tournament this year, you’re not alone. According to the American Gaming Association, an estimated 68 million American adults are expected to bet on it, to the tune of an estimated $15.5 billion worth of wagers. To put that in context, the public bet an estimated $16 billion on this year’s Super Bowl.

Who is the favorite to win this years tournament?

Last year most pundits described the tournament field to be wide-open meaning any number of teams could win. As it turns out though, the 2022 Final Four turned into a blue blood reunion featuring Duke, North Carolina, Villanova and eventual national champion Kansas. This year, Kansas, Alabama, Purdue and Houston earned top regional seeds and any one of those schools plus maybe four or five others could be cutting down the nets in April.

Bet Big on the Big 12

The Big 12 was hands down the best basketball conference in the country and has produced the past two national champions, Kansas in 2022 and Baylor in 2021. More importantly they’ve been money in the tourney, posting a four year ATS mark of 53-30 (63.9%). That’s just a smidge behind the Pac-12 which is 32-18 (64%).

I’m betting that the Big 12 will continue to flex its muscles especially in the early rounds.

What about those Blue Bloods?

Duke is back along with Kentucky and Indiana. Those are three examples of teams that will receive lots of money from fans who are familiar with their names but not the direction of the program. Keep in mind that you’ll pay a premium price when you bet on these teams because the public has a perception that these teams should win.

They don’t call it March Madness for nothing

It’s a fact of life. Upsets are a fact of life in the NCAA Tournament. The double digit seeds don’t win all that much so my advice is don’t just blindly bet an underdog. Check their schedule, did they play major competition? Are they competitive? Did they quit in any of their games? Also experience can be a big deal this time of year, especially if a player has been a part of March Madness before.





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