Which Teams Are Being Undervalued in the 2017 NCAA Tournament?

Last month when we first released our bracket simulator, I identified several teams who were providing value on the college basketball futures market. By combining information from our historical database along with data from well-respected basketball sources including ESPN, Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin, we were able to create our own national championship probabilities and check for discrepancies in the futures market.

My initial analysis highlighted Florida as one of the nation’s most underrated teams, but the Gators have moved 40/1 to 30/1 over the past month. Wichita State qualified as one of the best values throughout the regular season, but the Shockers have recently moved from 150/1 to 80/1. It’s tough to recommend placing a wager after this type of major line move, but one of these schools is still offering value.

The 68-team field for the 2017 NCAA Tournament was set last night, and we immediately ran one million simulations to determine the probability for each team to win the national championship. Wichita State won the national championship in 3.0% of our simulations, which is significantly higher than the implied probability at the Westgate Superbook (1.23%). That means they’re still a tremendous value at +8000.

Need more evidence that the Shockers are being overlooked? Despite being a lower seed, Wichita State actually opened as 6.5-point favorites against Dayton in the first round of the tournament. Gregg Marshall’s squad may have earned a 10-seed in the South Region, but they’re potentially one of ten best teams in the entire country.

The table below examines the opening and current championship odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. The current implied probabilities are then compared with the probabilities from our bracket simulator in order to find undervalued teams. Any values of above “1” indicate positive expected returns. This only represents one sportsbook, and we strongly encourage bettors to shop for the best line before placing a wager.

Team Opening Odds (4/5/2016) Implied Prob Current Odds (3/12/17) Implied Prob Bracket Simulator Value
WICHITA STATE +10000 0.99% +8000 1.23% 3.0% 2.43
GONZAGA +8000 1.23% +1000 9.09% 20.6% 2.266
WEST VIRGINIA +3000 3.23% +3000 3.23% 5.4% 1.674
VIRGINIA +2000 4.76% +4000 2.44% 3.9% 1.599
ST MARY'S (CA) +20000 0.50% +10000 0.99% 1.4% 1.414
CREIGHTON +20000 0.50% +30000 0.33% 0.4% 1.204
CINCINNATI +10000 0.99% +10000 0.99% 1.1% 1.111
IOWA STATE +5000 1.96% +6000 1.64% 1.8% 1.098
BAYLOR +8000 1.23% +4000 2.44% 2.4% 0.984
FLORIDA +10000 0.99% +3000 3.23% 3.1% 0.961
WISCONSIN +3000 3.23% +8000 1.23% 1.1% 0.891
VILLANOVA +800 11.11% +800 11.11% 9.4% 0.846
PURDUE +4000 2.44% +3000 3.23% 2.6% 0.806
NORTH CAROLINA +1500 6.25% +600 14.29% 10.5% 0.735
LOUISVILLE +1000 9.09% +1200 7.69% 5.5% 0.715
OREGON +2000 4.76% +2500 3.85% 2.6% 0.676
BUTLER +8000 1.23% +5000 1.96% 1.1% 0.561
FLORIDA STATE +20000 0.50% +3000 3.23% 1.8% 0.558
KENTUCKY +600 14.29% +800 11.11% 6.0% 0.54
SMU +10000 0.99% +3000 3.23% 1.7% 0.527
OKLAHOMA STATE +30000 0.33% +10000 0.99% 0.5% 0.505
NEVADA +200000 0.05% +50000 0.20% 0.1% 0.501
XAVIER +2000 4.76% +50000 0.20% 0.1% 0.501
KANSAS +1000 9.09% +800 11.11% 5.3% 0.477
MICHIGAN +10000 0.99% +8000 1.23% 0.5% 0.405
SOUTH CAROLINA +20000 0.50% +20000 0.50% 0.2% 0.402
NOTRE DAME +20000 0.50% +8000 1.23% 0.4% 0.324
MARQUETTE +30000 0.33% +30000 0.33% 0.1% 0.301
MIAMI (FL) +5000 1.96% +30000 0.33% 0.1% 0.301
WAKE FOREST +30000 0.33% +30000 0.33% 0.1% 0.301
ARIZONA +2000 4.76% +1200 7.69% 1.9% 0.247
DUKE +450 18.18% +500 16.67% 3.6% 0.216
UCLA +8000 1.23% +1200 7.69% 1.6% 0.208
NORTHWESTERN +30000 0.33% +20000 0.50% 0.1% 0.201
MICHIGAN STATE +1200 7.69% +10000 0.99% 0.1% 0.101
RHODE ISLAND +30000 0.33% +10000 0.99% 0.1% 0.101
MINNESOTA +30000 0.33% +8000 1.23% 0.1% 0.081
MARYLAND +4000 2.44% +20000 0.50% N/A N/A
VIRGINIA TECH +30000 0.33% +20000 0.50% N/A N/A
ARKANSAS +30000 0.33% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
DAYTON +20000 0.50% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
KANSAS STATE +30000 0.33% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE +100000 0.10% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
PROVIDENCE +30000 0.33% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
SETON HALL +5000 1.96% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
VANDERBILT +20000 0.50% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
VCU +20000 0.50% +30000 0.33% N/A N/A
USC +20000 0.50% +50000 0.20% N/A N/A
PRINCETON +30000 0.33% +100000 0.10% N/A N/A
FLORIDA GULF COAST +200000 0.05% +200000 0.05% N/A N/A
IONA +100000 0.10% +500000 0.02% N/A N/A
KENT STATE +200000 0.05% +500000 0.02% N/A N/A
NEW MEXICO STATE +200000 0.05% +500000 0.02% N/A N/A
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE +100000 0.10% +500000 0.02% N/A N/A
FIELD +50000 0.20% +50000 0.20% N/A N/A

It’s interesting to note that Gonzaga entered the season as an 80/1 longshot to win the national championship, but the Bulldogs now have the sixth best title odds at 10/1. Some of the other major overachievers include UCLA (80/1 to 12/1), Florida State (200/1 to 30/1), Minnesota (300/1 to 80/1) and SMU (100/1 to 30/1). I have repeatedly stated that UCLA is one of the most overrated teams in the country, but I strongly recommended bettors take SMU at 125/1 to win the title back on February 15.

Based on our latest simulations, there are eight schools offering value at the Westgate Superbook. The following list shows them ranked in order:

  1. Wichita State (+8,000)
  2. Gonzaga (+1,000)
  3. West Virginia (+3,000)
  4. Virginia (+4,000)
  5. Saint Mary’s (+10,000)
  6. Creighton (+30,000)
  7. Cincinnati (+10,000)
  8. Iowa State (+6,000)

Most of these teams have been highlighted as value plays for several weeks, but Creighton, Cincinnati and Iowa State are all new additions to this list. Cincinnati and Iowa State have both been borderline plays for several weeks, but Creighton’s newfound value is based almost entirely on the recent adjustment to their future price (moved from 100/1 to 300/1).

It’s also worth noting that Duke (+450) opened the season as the favorite to win the national championship, and their recent hot streak once again has them as the front-runner at +500. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that oddsmakers view the Blue Devils as the best team in the nation. Duke is consistently one of the most public teams in the nation, so sportsbooks often shade Duke futures to help minimize some of their risk.

For what it’s worth, Ken Pomeroy’s rankings have Duke as the 12th best team in the nation. In fact, Pomeroy has three ACC teams (Virginia, Louisville and North Carolina) ranked ahead of Coach K’s squad. Ken Pom believes that oddsmakers are overrating several household names (i.e. Arizona, Duke, and UCLA) while underrating several mid-majors (i.e. St. Mary’s, Wichita State and Creighton)

The table below compares Ken Pom’s rankings with the oddsmaker rankings based on the current futures at the Westgate Superbook.

Power Rankings

Team Ken Pom Rankings Oddsmaker Ranking Difference
ST MARY'S (CA) 14 25 11
WICHITA STATE 10 20 10
VIRGINIA 7 16 9
CREIGHTON 27 34 7
XAVIER 40 46 6
WEST VIRGINIA 5 11 6
MARQUETTE 28 34 6
GONZAGA 1 6 5
KANSAS STATE 29 34 5
WAKE FOREST 30 34 4
CINCINNATI 22 25 3
BAYLOR 13 16 3
FLORIDA 9 11 2
IOWA STATE 17 19 2
MIAMI (FL) 32 34 2
LOUISVILLE 6 7 1
VILLANOVA 2 3 1
OKLAHOMA STATE 24 25 1
VANDERBILT 34 34 0
SMU 11 11 0
MICHIGAN 21 20 -1
SOUTH CAROLINA 31 30 -1
KENTUCKY 4 3 -1
NORTH CAROLINA 3 2 -1
DAYTON 36 34 -2
WISCONSIN 23 20 -3
ARKANSAS 38 34 -4
PURDUE 15 11 -4
KANSAS 8 3 -5
NOTRE DAME 25 20 -5
OREGON 16 10 -6
FLORIDA STATE 19 11 -8
BUTLER 26 18 -8
NORTHWESTERN 39 30 -9
NEVADA 55 46 -9
DUKE 11 1 -10
UCLA 18 7 -11
PRINCETON 59 47 -12
RHODE ISLAND 37 25 -12
MINNESOTA 33 20 -13
ARIZONA 20 7 -13
VIRGINIA TECH 44 30 -14
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE 48 34 -14
USC 61 46 -15
MARYLAND 45 30 -15
MICHIGAN STATE 43 25 -18
VCU 52 34 -18
SETON HALL 53 34 -19
PROVIDENCE 56 34 -22
NEW MEXICO STATE 88 49 -39
FLORIDA GULF COAST 108 48 -60
IONA 118 49 -69
KENT STATE 141 49 -92
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 187 49 -138

Don’t forget to visit our free college basketball odds page for the latest odds, public betting trends, injuries and more. Interested in tracking steam moves, smart money alerts, and our highly profitable Best Bet picks? Sign up for an extended trial of Sportsbook Insider Pro for a limited time!

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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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