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Elite Eight (NCAA basketball) Betting Strategy & Predictions

Author: Devin Erickson-Sheehy | Last Updated: March 20, 2023

By the time the NCAA men’s basketball tournament gets down to the Elite Eight, almost 90 percent of the games have been played.

The way the tournament has been set up is there are two Elite Eight games on Saturday (the teams that won in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night) and two games on Sunday (the teams that won in the Sweet 16 on Friday night).

Most of the lower seeds have been cleared out by now, but that does not mean the top seeds will walk into the Final Four. On the contrary: while a team seeded first has largely come away as the eventual champion – 13 of the last 17 (76%), that does not mean that the Final Four has no surprise entrants. 

Five betting strategies for the Elite Eight contests

Here are some betting tips and trends for the Elite Eight:

1. After dominating the Sweet 16, top seeds face more resistance in the Elite Eight.

In the Sweet 16 over the last five years, top seeds are 19-3. But those teams are just 12-7 in the Elite Eight. Going back to 2012, 1 seeds win 60 percent of the time (15-10) in this round.

In the last decade, there has been only one year (2011) when a top seed did not advance to the Final Four.

2. Top seeds do not perform well against the spread i

When the games get to this round, it is almost always the better teams in the country, with one or two surprises every once in a while.

The top seeds have struggled in the Elite Eight against the spread, going 12-19 over a decade, winning by just over a point per game. Straight up, they are 17-14.

3. When the chalk holds in a bracket, it is a coin flip between one and two.

Obviously, the top two seeds in a bracket are usually the best teams. While some brackets get blown up, others have the chalk standing at the end. Second seeds have performed very well against the top seeds in the Elite Eight, winning exactly 50 percent of the games (24-24). In the last decade, it trends towards the second seeds, who have won 64 percent of those meetings (7-4).

4. Some lower seeds are better than others.

There have been some bracket busters that have made their way to the Final Four of late, especially in the last decade.

Nine teams seeded lower than five have made it all the way to the final weekend of the men’s basketball season, but they come from specific lines. No six seed has been to the Final Four since 1992, while just one nine seed (Wichita State, 2013) and 10 seed (Syracuse, 2016) have gone. No teams seeded 12th or lower have ever advanced to the Final Four.

Contrast that with the eight seeds, who have gone six times, and the 11 seeds, who have gone five times.  

5. 3 and 5 seeds are almost always underdogs but perform well

Over a decade, teams seeded third came into their Elite Eight games as the underdog in all 12 games. They are 6-6 overall, and 7-5 against the spread.

Five seeds are 4-0 in that same time, both straight up and against the spread.

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Devin Erickson-Sheehy

Devin is a diehard New York sports fan and betting expert. He supplies a wealth of knowledge about everything online gambling, providing readers with up-to-date tracking on the latest trends, industry news, and betting offers.