2017 NCAA Tournament: Day 1 Betting Recap

The first day of the first round of the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is in the books, but it was far less exciting than last year’s opening round which featured several major upsets and buzzer-beaters. On a day that was dominated by the chalk, we wanted to look at some of the most intriguing early trends and storylines.

  • Based on the closing line at Pinnacle, favorites went 14-2 straight up (SU), but only 7-8-1 against the spread (ATS). Arizona (closed -18) pushed against North Dakota.
  • There were only two moneyline upsets yesterday, and both of them were minor. Xavier (closed +126) defeated Maryland and Northwestern (closed +118) knocked off Vanderbilt after Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis intentionally fouled Wildcats guard Bryant McIntosh despite leading by one with just 15 seconds remaining.

  • Bettors would have gone 14-2 taking every favorite on the moneyline, but $100/game bettors would have only earned $179 taking every favorite straight up.
  • No 16-seed has ever won a first round game, so the moneylines for the 1-seeds are fairly ridiculous. At Pinnacle, Villanova closed as a -12,000 moneyline favorite against Mount St. Mary’s, which means a $100 wager would have yielded an 83-cent profit. Nonetheless, bettors at William Hill were more than willing to take big favorites on the moneyline.

  • Historically there has been value taking the under in first round tournament games, but yesterday was very profitable over bettors. The majority of tickets were placed on the over in all but one game (Virginia/UNC Wilmington) and the over went 10-5-1 overall. Interestingly, the majority of the money was on the over in just 10 of 16 games.
  • For spread bettors, fading the public produced mixed results in yesterday’s games. Teams receiving less than 50% of spread tickets went 8-7-1 ATS, teams receiving less than 40% of spread tickets went 3-4-1 ATS and teams receiving less than 30% of spread bets went 2-0-1 ATS. North Dakota (+18 vs. Arizona) and South Dakota State (+23.5 vs. Gonzaga) tied for the least public support with 28% of spread tickets.
  • Betting against the public using our newly added money percentages was slightly more profitable, but not at the most extreme levels. Teams receiving less than 50% of spread dollars went 9-6 ATS, teams receiving less than 40% of spread dollars went 7-5 ATS and teams receiving less than 30% of spread dollars went 1-3 ATS.
  • It was also interesting to see that many underdogs were receiving love from the public, as the majority of spread bettors took the underdog in 6 of 16 games. The ‘dog went 3-3 ATS in those games. As a reminder, it’s been historically profitable to fade the trendy underdog.
  • Florida Gulf Coast (closed +11.5 on the spread, +565 on the moneyline against Florida State) was one of the trendiest underdogs in recent history. The Eagles received 64% of spread tickets and 67% of spread dollars. They also received 75% of moneyline tickets and 94% of moneyline dollars. Although they weren’t able to pull off the upset, FGCU easily covered the spread.
  • The lower seeded team went 8-7-1 ATS yesterday, which includes Middle Tennessee State’s win over Minnesota. Although MTSU was the 12-seed, they actually closed as 1-point favorites and received 66% of spread tickets. That serves as a reminder to the national media…you can’t call it an upset if the team is favored. Please keep that in mind today when 10-seed Wichita State (currently -6.5) takes on 7-seed Dayton.
  • Aside from anybody on the Vanderbilt moneyline, there weren’t many bad beats in yesterday’s game. Winthrop (closed +10.5) almost pulled off an unlikely backdoor cover and their coach almost gave under bettors a heart attack when he decided to foul despite trailing by double-digits with less than one minute remaining. The one tough break was for any bettors who took Virginia -7 and had to watch Darius Thompson miss two late free throws with his team leading by five.

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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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