March Madness: How Low Should You Go in the Seedings in Search of an NCAA Champion?

Upsets are what make the NCAA Tournament so popular with bettors. Everyone loves a Cinderella story, especially when they’ve got a stake in the outcome. 

However, you won’t make your fortune by wagering on frequent upsets to happen over the course of the tournament. On average, there are between 10-12 upsets out of the 131 games that are played to determine a champion.

Knowing when to play upsets and when to count on favorites coming through is also vital to NCAA Tournament wagering success. And history shows us that when it comes to putting money on the underdog in March Madness, the trend to follow is the sooner, the better.

Historically, the deeper you get into the tourney, the more frequently that the cream rises to the top. The lore of the NCAA tournament also indicates that when it comes to winning, one isn’t the loneliest number.

If you’re going to FanDuel sportsbook to place a future book wager on the NCAA basketball champion, don’t stray too far off the chalk in search of a price. That line of strategy will only end up costing you money.

The deeper you go into the tournament, the less likely it is that a favorite will fall. Since the tournament went to the 64-team format in 1985, the first round has averaged 6.1 upsets per year. By the second round, that number drops to 3.6 upsets.

There are just 1.7 upsets on average in the Sweet 16, only 0.5 upsets in the Elite Eight and 0.2 upsets annually in the Final Four. 

Over the past 10 NCAA Tournaments, seven times a one seed has finished as the winner of March Madness. In fact, half of the final spots during that decade were filled in by No. 1-seeded squads. 

A two seed and a three seed also won the tourney over that span. The only exception to top seeds ruling over the festivities came in 2014, when seventh-seeded Connecticut downed eighth-seeded Kentucky in the final.

The last three NCAA champions were all one seeds – Virginia (2019), Villanova (2018), and North Carolina (2017).

In other words, when you log into DraftKings in search of a wager on an NCAA champion, the best bet is to stick with the best bets.


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