College Basketball Futures Offering Value Based On Bracket Simulator

Two years ago we first introduced our free March Madness bracket simulator tool — a unique product which allows customers to simulate the entire NCAA Basketball Tournament and view the projected winning percentage for every potential matchup. We initially believed that we could help bettors create a more accurate bracket, but soon realized that there were several additional benefits.

The bracket simulator combines information from our historical database along with data from well-respected basketball sources including ESPN, Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin. Although the actual tournament bracket won’t be released until Selection Sunday on March 13, we’re able to use Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology predictions throughout the regular season.

Last season Lunardi correctly projected 66 of 68 tournament teams, missing out on controversial inclusions Indiana and UCLA. Lunardi has perfectly predicted the tournament field on several occasions, and oddsmakers clearly respect his acumen. Over at 5Dimes, there are actually several prop bets involving ESPN’s resident college basketball guru. Lunardi is listed at +700 to correctly predict all 68 teams with an over/under of 66.5 accurate predictions.

We believed that we could use these predictions along with our bracket simulator software to uncover value in the college basketball futures market. Unlike last year where Kentucky was considered the clear-cut favorite, this season’s field is wide open with six teams (Villanova, Maryland, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and Virginia) receiving votes to be the top-ranked team in the most recent AP Top 25 poll.

After importing the predictions from Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, we ran one million simulations to determine the probability for each team to win the national championship (along with their odds of reaching the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four). We then compared these probabilities with the implied odds for each team to win the national championship in order to determine which college basketball futures were offering value.

For our research we used the futures from 5Dimes to determine our implied probability. We then divided our bracket simulation results by these implied probabilities to determine the top expected values.

Note: The sum of these implied probabilities is 130%, which equates to a -130 juice.

SCHOOL 5DIMES (2/9) IMPLIED PROBABILITY BRACKET SIMULATOR VALUE
St. Mary's   +20000 0.50% 0.80% 1.6
Iowa   +1400 6.67% 10.00% 1.5
Virginia   +1800 5.26% 7.70% 1.46
Villanova   +1350 6.90% 9.50% 1.38
West Virginia   +2300 4.17% 5.40% 1.29
Florida   +20000 0.50% 0.60% 1.2
Seton Hall   +50000 0.20% 0.20% 1
North Carolina   +900 10.00% 9.90% 0.99
Arizona   +4000 2.44% 2.30% 0.94
Texas   +9000 1.10% 1.00% 0.91
VCU   +30000 0.33% 0.30% 0.91
Texas A&M   +4000 2.44% 2.20% 0.9
USC   +8500 1.16% 1.00% 0.86
Miami (FL)   +3500 2.78% 2.30% 0.83
Kansas   +1300 7.14% 5.80% 0.81
Baylor   +20000 0.50% 0.40% 0.8
Maryland   +1200 7.69% 6.10% 0.79
Oklahoma   +850 10.53% 8.10% 0.77
Purdue   +3500 2.78% 2.10% 0.76
Gonzaga   +15000 0.66% 0.50% 0.76
Valparaiso   +15000 0.66% 0.50% 0.76
South Carolina   +25000 0.40% 0.30% 0.75
Iowa State   +3800 2.56% 1.90% 0.74
Dayton   +10000 0.99% 0.70% 0.71
Notre Dame   +10000 0.99% 0.70% 0.71
Michigan State   +1050 8.70% 5.70% 0.66
Xavier   +2000 4.76% 3.00% 0.63
Oregon   +2000 4.76% 2.90% 0.61
Indiana   +4500 2.17% 1.20% 0.55
Wichita State   +5000 1.96% 1.00% 0.51
Duke   +1800 5.26% 2.70% 0.51
Utah   +25000 0.40% 0.20% 0.5
Florida State   +40000 0.25% 0.10% 0.4
Connecticut   +5500 1.79% 0.70% 0.39
Pittsburgh   +30000 0.33% 0.10% 0.3
San Diego State   +25000 0.40% 0.10% 0.25
Kentucky   +1250 7.41% 1.40% 0.19
Butler   +15000 0.66% 0.10% 0.15
Syracuse   +12500 0.79% 0.10% 0.13
Michigan   +12500 0.79% 0.10% 0.13
LSU   +6600 1.49% 0.10% 0.07
Providence   +6600 1.49% 0.10% 0.07
Arkansas LR N/A N/A 0.10% N/A
St. Joseph's N/A N/A 0.10% N/A
California N/A N/A 0.10% N/A
Yale N/A N/A 0.10% N/A
Stanford   +75000 0.13% N/A N/A
Georgetown   +75000 0.13% N/A N/A
UAB   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Boise State   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Ohio State   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
St. Louis   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Kansas State   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Creighton   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Georgia Tech   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Massachusetts   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Colorado   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
Tulsa   +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
UNLV   +35000 0.28% N/A N/A
Harvard   +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
Wisconsin   +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
Marquette   +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
UCLA   +25000 0.40% N/A N/A
Clemson   +25000 0.40% N/A N/A
Auburn   +200000 0.05% N/A N/A
Cincinnati   +20000 0.50% N/A N/A
Tennessee   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Memphis   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Cal Irvine   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Mississippi   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Arkansas   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Arizona State   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Alabama   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Georgia   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Belmont   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
BYU   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
NC State   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
New Mexico State   +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
Vanderbilt   +10000 0.99% N/A N/A

Based on our simulations, there are only six schools that are offering value in the futures market. The list below details these six teams and examines what their futures should be based on the result of our bracket simulator.

  1. St. Mary’s (+20,000; should be +14,000)
  2. Iowa (+1,400; should be +900)
  3. Virginia (+1,800; should be +1,200)
  4. Villanova (+1,350; should be +950)
  5. West Virginia (+2,300; should be +1,750)
  6. Florida (+20,000; should be +16,500)

It’s interesting to see that Seton Hall (+50,000) is the only team that is being properly priced according to our simulations. It was also surprising to see that there are no futures being offered for four teams that are expected to make the tournament: Arkansas Little Rock, California, St. Joseph’s and Yale.

We should also note that these projections are clearly influenced by the strength of each region. Even though our analysis shows that Villanova would defeat Iowa in 50.2% of their matchups, Iowa actually has the higher probability of winning the national championship. This is largely due to the fact that Villanova would have to face more difficult competition en route to the Final Four.

Readers may be interested to know that 5Dimes is currently offering futures for 33 teams that have a statistically insignificant probability of winning the title. There are also six teams with odds that are considerably shorter than they should be. That list includes:

  1. Providence (+6,600, should be +100,000)
  2. LSU (+6,600, should be +100,000)
  3. Syracuse (+12,500, should be +100,000)
  4. Michigan (+12,500, should be +100,000)
  5. Butler (+15,000, should be +100,000)
  6. Kentucky (+1,250 should be +7,000)

It’s very difficult to find value in the futures market, as the juice and long waiting period can make placing a wager quite prohibitive.  There also haven’t been many long shots to win the title, aside from UConn two years ago. The list below details the future odds for the eventual champion on February 1:

  • 2014-15: Duke (+900)
  • 2013-14: Connecticut (+10,000)
  • 2012-13: Louisville (+1,000)
  • 2011-12: Kentucky (+400)
  • 2010-11: Connecticut (+1,400)
  • 2009-10: Duke (+1,000)

We will continue to update these odds and probabilities as the season continues, so make sure to visit our blog for the latest news.


Our college basketball Best Bets have gone 126-102 ATS (+13.9 units) this season and 815-669 ATS (+76.27 units) since the start of the 2011 season. 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.

Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at help@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@SportsInsights.com

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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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