COLLEGE BASKETBALL BETTING: JUST PICK THE WINNER IN THE ELITE EIGHT
When you get down to the ‘Elite Eight’ in the NCAA basketball tournament it’s the same case every year–‘March Madness’ came ‘in like a lion’ but is going out ‘like a lamb’. After all of the upsets and pointspread histrionics of the first two rounds it’s become much more sedate in the ‘Sweet Sixteen’. Favorites have taken over and the pointspread has become pretty much irrelevant.
There were eight games in the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ with the favorites going 7-1 both straight up and against the spread. The average margin of victory of the eight games was 12.87 with only two of the games being decided by single digits. Notre Dame beat Wisconsin by 5 but covered as -1 point favorites. The only underdog winner both straight up and against the spread was also a single digit game as Syracuse beat Gonzaga by 3 as a +4 underdog. The 2016 ‘Sweet Sixteen’ margin of victory was very close to the 2015 margin (12.12) though there is something of an ‘asterisk’. The 2015 total includes Kentucky’s 39 point win over West Virgina—factor that out and the margin of victory in the 7 remaining games was just 8.28
TO CASH YOUR TICKET JUST PICK THE WINNER
In theory, the margins should tighten up down the stretch as the matchups become tougher. Every team still remaining has won three games and we can assume that they have some significant qualitative upside. While this may be true, it doesn’t mean that you should split hairs worrying about pointspreads—at least not at the ‘Elite Eight’ stage of the tournament. The games in the Final Four are fairly tight in most years as is the National Championship Game. But until then all you need to do is just pick the winner. ‘
This is something that you should file away in your college basketball betting ‘memory banks’ for future reference and you’ll profit handsomely in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight for years to come. All you need to do is just pick the team you think will win and the rest will take care of itself. We’ve already discussed the 7-1 ATS performance by favorites in the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ but even the one underdog that cashed won outright—this means that the pointspread didn’t come into play in any of the eight games at this stage.
As the tournament progresses the remaining teams are more competitive and the matchups (in theory at least) are likewise more competitive. This doesn’t mean that it’s a time to play underdogs, however, as the pointspreads in these games also get smaller. In most ‘Elite Eight’ games the pointspread is equal to ‘one possession’. Obviously, if your handicapping methodology is so precise that you can determine that a team will lose by precisely one possession you’re in rare company. It’s easier to just determine which team you think will win and place a sports bet accordingly.
Even at higher prices you’re still dealing with just a couple of possessions in a less favorable matchup. So the same concept applies—just pick which team will win and don’t worry about the points. In the matchup I just mentioned this means you shouldn’t bet Notre Dame unless you’re confident they can win the game outright. I love taking points with underdogs as much as anyone but this is not the time to ‘get cute’ and think that you can pick a team that will lose outright but cover the spread. That might be possible in the ‘Final Four’ but at the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight stage you’re much better served figuring out the winner and letting the points fall where they may.