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The Greek Sportsbook

Sports Betting: Did you have two
left feet with the big dance?

Like most gamblers, college basketball fans, particularly those who enjoy sports betting on the NCAA Men's Tournament (who doesn't?) would, understandably, much rather look ahead to the next bet than back at the last one. But savvy sports betting aficionados also understand that a review of previous actions, no matter how tedious and time-consuming, sometimes can yield substantial clues for the next time the bettor is presented with a similar situation.

A case in point is the much ballyhooed analysis comparing opening round seedings against the pointspread. Technical handicappers, those earnest folks who diligently study reams of data and results, crunching numbers in hope of uncovering a wagering pattern, probably are scratching their heads after this year's games.

No. 16 seeds, which enjoyed a 14-10 pointspread edge over No. 1 seeds since 2002, only covered one of four matchups this season, and that, just barely, when Texas-Arlington, +25, lost by 24 points to Memphis, 87-63. The other three No. 16 seeds, Mount St. Mary's (+31), Portland State (+23), and Mississippi Valley State (+29), all failed to cover against, respectively, North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA.

No. 15 seeds, which had notched a 15-9 against the pointspread (STS) edge versus No. 2 seeds since 2002, split four opening round contests as Belmont (+21) succeeded against Duke and American University (+20) beat the pointspread versus Tennessee but Maryland Baltimore County (+17) and Austin Peay (+18) came up short against Georgetown and Texas, respectively.

Alas, for technical bettors who respected history and went with the eight lowest seeded teams, the opening week of the Big Dance produced a 3-5 losing record against the pointspread.

But it wasn't all bad news for the data devotees.

The strongest play historically, No. 7 seeds over No. 10 seeds, again held up well in 2008. The matchup, which had yielded a 17-7 pointspread advantage since 2002, went 3-1 this year as No. 7 seeds Miami (-1 1/2), Butler (-3 1/2), and West Virginia (-2) covered their numbers against St. Mary's, South Alabama and Arizona, respectively. The other No. 7 seed, Gonzaga (pick �em) lost to Davidson.

Another historically strong play, No. 6 seeds over No. 11 seeds, also performed well in this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament opening round. The matchup, which had produced a 14-10 pointspread edge for No. 6 seeds since 2002, went 3-1 this year as Oklahoma (-2), Purdue (-2 1/2), and Marquette (-5) beat the pointspread against respective victims St. Joseph's, Baylor and Kentucky. Only Southern Cal (-3), failed to live up to betting expectations, losing outright to Kansas State.

Since 2002, the 3-14, 4-13 and 5-12 opening round matchups have failed to yield significant pointspread differences, a betting trend which was repeated in two of the three pairings this year. No. 4 seeds, which were a combined 13-11 ATS coming into this year's action, were 2-2 ATS. No. 5 seeds, which entered March Madness dead-even with No. 12 seeds at 11-11-2 ATS, left the opening round the same way was after a 2-2 ATS split.

Only No. 3 seeds broke the pattern. Third-seeded teams, which were a tepid 12-11-1 ATS versus No. 14 teams since 2002, surprised technical handicappers with a 4-0 pointspread season. Louisville (-13) beat the spread against Boise State, Xavier (-6) covered versus Georgia, Wisconsin (-11) rewarded favorite players against Cal State-Fullerton, and Stanford (-16 1/2) aced its pointspread test against Cornell.

So what have we learned? For starters in sports betting, college basketball betting in general, and NCAA Tournament Basketball betting in particular, like so many other sports, don't always live up to past trends.

So, while technical handicapping may have its merits, its clearly no slam-dunk shortcut to riches and certainly no substitute for individual game analysis and handicapping that can lead to basketball betting success.


This article was written by Luken Karel for
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