For the past two weeks, I have utilized our bracket simulator predictions to determine which schools were offering value in the futures market. By converting each school’s future price into an implied probability, I have been able to identify several schools with a positive expected value. My initial analysis highlighted Florida (+4000), Louisville (+1700) and Gonzaga (+1000), and those teams continued to offer value last week despite major line movement.
Although the actual tournament bracket won’t be released until Selection Sunday, I’m able to use Joe Lunardi’s weekly Bracketology predictions throughout the regular season and then run 10,000 simulations to determine each team’s probability of winning the national championship. By comparing these probabilities with the implied odds for each team to win the national championship, I’m able to determine which futures are the smartest bets.
Last week there were eight schools that were being undervalued by the oddsmakers, all of whom had been highlighted as value plays just one week earlier. Unfortunately, the odds actually got shorter for all but one team (West Virginia moved from 18/1 to 20/1) which means bettors who missed out initial analysis were likely stuck with a worse price on their future. However, it also indicates that our initial valuations were dead-on.
The table below compares the implied probabilities at 5Dimes and The Greek with the probabilities from our bracket simulator. Any values of above “1” indicate positive expected returns. This only represents two offshore sportsbooks, and we always encourage bettors to shop for the best line before placing a wager.
|Team||Probability||5Dimes||5Dimes Implied||5Dimes Value||Greek||Greek Implied||Greek Value|
|Saint Marys CA||0.9%||8000||1.23%||0.729||12500||0.79%||1.134|
Based on the latest simulations, there are eight schools offering value at 5Dimes and nine schools offering value at The Greek.
- Wichita State (+10,000)
- West Virginia (+2,800)*
- Oklahoma State (+30,000)*
- Gonzaga (+575)
- Florida (+2,000)
- Virginia (+2,500)
- Baylor (+2,500)
- SMU (+8,000)
- Wichita State (+15,000)*
- Gonzaga (+800)*
- Florida (+2,500)*
- Virginia (+3,000)*
- West Virginia (+2,000)
- Baylor (+3,000)*
- Oklahoma State (+25,000)
- Saint Mary’s (+12,500)
- SMU (+8,500)*
All eight teams offering value at 5Dimes are also offering value at The Greek, however, there’s one team that’s only offering value at The Greek. Our bracket simulator gives Saint Mary’s a 0.9% probability to win the national championship, which translates to implied odds of roughly +11,000. The Gaels are +12,500 at The Greek but only +8,000 at 5Dimes. That’s why they only appear as a value play at one sportsbook.
It’s also interesting to note that Gonzaga’s odds of winning the national championship continue to improve. The Bulldogs were +900 two weeks ago, +650 last week, and +575 this week at 5Dimes. According to our bracket simulator, their probability of winning the national championship actually dropped from 22.9% to 21.3% since last week, which means they’re offering way less value at the new price. This is a solid value bet, but you’ll likely find a better price by waiting several weeks.
One potential sleeper could be the 25th-ranked Wichita State Shockers, who have seen their probability of winning the national championship improve from 0.9% to 1.9% following decisive wins over Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa. This team is deep, experienced, and well-coached. Although they don’t have the name recognition of other schools, they have reached the NCAA tournament in five consecutive seasons. They may have lost their two best players last season (Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet), but Wichita State is a great long shot bet at 150/1. In fact, our bracket simulator believes they’re a better team than the (vastly overrated) fifth-ranked UCLA Bruins.
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