2017 March Madness: Odds to Make the Final Four
The 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is scheduled to begin on March 14, 2017, and will conclude with the national championship game on April 3. The NCAA awards 32 automatic bids to the tournament, with the other 36 bids being awarded by the selection committee. Regardless of what happens during the upcoming conference tournaments, several teams have already firmly clinched a postseason berth.
On Monday morning, the offshore sportsbook Top Bet posted odds on which teams will reach the Final Four, with “yes” or “no” options for eleven of the nation’s best teams. The table below displays the current odds, along with the latest probabilities from our bracket simulator.
Over the past month, I have been using our bracket simulator predictions to determine which schools are 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. Since our bracket simulator also offers probabilities to reach the Final Four, I wanted to determine which schools were offering the best value.
There’s are several schools with limited value to reach the Final Four (Kentucky +350, Louisville +415 and North Carolina +200) and several with limited value to be eliminated earlier in the tournament (Arizona -700, Kansas -310, Oregon -425 and Villanova -320) but the edge is so small that it’s not actionable. That said, there are four teams with significant value:
- Gonzaga (+300) to reach Final Four
- UCLA (-310) to miss Final Four
- Duke (-330) to miss Final Four
- Baylor (+900) to reach Final Four
The NCAA tournament bracket won’t be released until Selection Sunday on March 12, so I have used Joe Lunardi’s weekly Bracketology predictions to determine the tournament field. The one problem with this strategy is that some teams have much easier competition. Although Oregon and Kentucky are both two-seeds, our numbers believe that Kentucky is the far superior team. That gives Gonzaga a much easier path to the Final Four than Kansas.
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