2016 March Madness: Which Final Four Teams Are Being Underrated by Oddsmakers?

Last week in this space we utilized our bracket simulator predictions to determine which schools were offering value in the futures market. By converting each school’s championship futures into an implied probability, we were able to find four schools with a positive expected value: Villanova (+1250), Virginia (+575), Gonzaga (+2200) and Iowa State (+2800).

Although all four of these schools were offering slight value, we explained that Villanova was the only team that had been vastly mispriced by the oddsmakers. In the past week, the Wildcats knocked off 3-seed Miami and 1-seed Kansas to reach the Final Four. These two wins caused Nova’s odds of winning the national championship to jump from +1250 to +265 at 5Dimes.

With only four teams remaining, we wanted to reassess the futures market at 5Dimes and compare those odds with the results from our bracket simulator. It’s interesting to note that bettors are now able to bet on any team versus the field, which is why the table below includes options for either “yes” or “no.”

School Yes (5Dimes) Yes (Implied) No No (Implied)
North Carolina +108 48.08% -126 55.75%
Villanova +265 27.40% -310 75.61%
Oklahoma +335 22.99% -390 79.59%
Syracuse +1300 7.14% -1870 94.92%

In an oversight by the 5Dimes oddsmakers, the odds for the championship futures are all more favorable than the odds versus field which is listed under the prop bet section. Bettors can also find more favorable futures by shopping the best line. For example, bettors can find Villanova +275 at Bovada, Oklahoma +418 at Bookmaker and Syracuse +1417 at Bookmaker.

Based purely on the odds at 5Dimes, we found that two bets were offering slight value: Villanova +265 to win the championship and North Carolina -126 to not win the championship. According to the data from our bracket simulator Villanova should be listed at +220 to win the championship while North Carolina should be listed at -137 to not win the championship.

The table below compares the implied probabilities at 5Dimes with the probabilities from our bracket simulator. Any values of above “1” indicate positive expected returns.

School Yes (Bracket) Yes (Implied) Value No (Bracket) No (Implied) Value
North Carolina 42.1% 48.08% 0.87 57.9% 55.75% 1.04
Villanova 31.2% 27.40% 1.14 68.8% 75.61% 0.91
Oklahoma 21.5% 22.99% .94 78.5% 79.59% 0.99
Syracuse 5.3% 7.14% 0.74 94.7% 94.92% 1.00

With so few teams remaining, bettors may want to simply consider betting the game moneyline as opposed to taking the future. For example, Syracuse is +1300 to win the national championship and +425 to defeat North Carolina in the Final Four. Allow me to outline two potential situations.

  1. If bettors place $100 on Syracuse to win the title, they’d potentially finish with $1370 — the $1270 profit plus the initial $100 principle.
  2. If bettors place $100 on Syracuse (+425) to upset North Carolina, they’d potentially finish with $525 — the $425 profit plus the initial $100 principle. Bettors could then take that $525 and bet that Syracuse will upset the Villanova/Oklahoma winner. Luckily, 5Dimes is currently offering look ahead moneylines for the championship game:

Syracuse is being discussed as one of the worst Final Four teams in recent memory, so it’s not surprising to see that they would be an underdog regardless of who they play next round. Allow me to outline both potential opponents from a moneyline standpoint:

  1. If bettors place $525 on Syracuse (+185) to upset Villanova, they’d potentially finish with $1496.25 — the $971.25 profit plus the initial $525 principle.
  2. If bettors place $525 on Syracuse (+140) to upset Oklahoma, they’d potentially finish with $1260 — the $735 profit plus the initial $525 principle.

The current moneyline for Thursday’s early game has Villanova (-135) listed as a slight moneyline favorite over Oklahoma (+115). When we account for the juice, we find that oddsmakers believe there’s a 55.55% probability that Villanova defeats Oklahoma. That means 55.55% of the time Syracuse bettors would earn $1496.25 and 44.45% of the time they would earn $1260. That works out to an expected value of $1403.84.

Although it’s not a huge advantage you can see that if Syracuse wins the national championship it would be slightly more profitable to take them on the moneyline in consecutive games ($1403.84) than it would be to bet their championship futures ($1370). You would also have the option of keeping some of your winnings and only betting a portion on the championship game to ensure a profit.

This season our college basketball Best Bets have gone 180-139 ATS with +26.6 units won. These picks are exclusively available to our Sportsbook Insider Pro subscribers, so make sure to sign up for a 4-day trial. Schedule a one-on-one demo and we’ll tack on four additional days for free!

Bettors should also be sure to visit our free college basketball odds page for the latest lines, injuries, public betting trends and more.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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