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.
— Bet Labs Sports (@Bet_Labs) March 12, 2017
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|
|ST MARY'S (CA)||+20000||0.50%||+10000||0.99%||1.4%||1.414|
|MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE||+100000||0.10%||+30000||0.33%||N/A||N/A|
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||+200000||0.05%||+200000||0.05%||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|
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:
- Wichita State (+8,000)
- Gonzaga (+1,000)
- West Virginia (+3,000)
- Virginia (+4,000)
- Saint Mary’s (+10,000)
- Creighton (+30,000)
- Cincinnati (+10,000)
- 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.
|Team||Ken Pom Rankings||Oddsmaker Ranking||Difference|
|ST MARY'S (CA)||14||25||11|
|MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE||48||34||-14|
|NEW MEXICO STATE||88||49||-39|
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||108||48||-60|
|SOUTH DAKOTA STATE||187||49||-138|
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