Sports gambling expert Marc Lawrence of Weston, who runs Playbook.com, put out these thoughts as we approach the NCAA tournament. I could pretend like I do this much studying, but it would be really faking it. So I'm just going to hand him the platform here.
Here's his column:
The 2013 NCAA Tournament has arrived and with it a final chance to pad our bankrolls for the season.
To make that shining moment happen, let’s take a look at how teams in this event have fared most recently in the past.
Because it’s my belief that success in handicapping this tournament is tantamount to breaking the action down into rounds, let’s take a look at some of the more relevant and most recent trend results that have occurred in Round One games.
Here are observations from the 2013 PLAYBOOK NCAA Tournament guide. Note all results are since 1991 unless noted otherwise. Abbreviations: ATS (Against The Spread), SU (Straight Up).
If your dream of designs is completing the perfect bracket (read: picking every winner in every game), enjoy the dream.
You have a better chance of winning 50 Powerball lotteries in your lifetime!
Since expanding to 64 teams in 1985, the odds of randomly picking a perfect bracket sheet are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 – or better than one in nine quintillion.
Hint: you can reduce the odds to one in 13.5 billion simply by picking the No. 1 seeds over the No. 16 seeds in the first round and going from there.
Now that you’re feeling better about your chances, concentrate, instead on picking the Final Four teams. That’s 16 to the fourth power, or one in 65,536.
Incidentally, there have been only seven teams seeded lower than No. 6 to reach the Final Four since 1985: 1985 Villanova (8), 1986 LSU (11), 2000 North Carolina (8), 2000 Wisconsin (8), 2006 George Mason (11), 2011 Butler (8) and 2011 VCU (11).
For what it’s worth, Sheldon Jacobson, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, informs us the most likely Final Four seed combination is 1, 1, 2, 3. The odds against this occurring are about 16 to 1. It has happened three times in the past 28 years. Chalk artists beware: the odds of all four No.1 seeds reaching the Final Four: 47.5 to 1.
And long shot lovers note: the odds of a No. 16 seed reaching the Final Four: 828 to 1. The odds of all four No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four: about one trillion to 1.
PLANTING THE SEED
• No. 1 seeds are 88-0 SU and 50-37-1 ATS vs. No. 16 seeds, including 16-3 ATS if favored by fewer than 10 points off back-to-back SU wins.
• No. 2 seeds are 82-6 SU and 37-47-4 ATS vs. No. 15 seeds, including 11-25-4 ATS vs. foes off a SU win.
• No. 3 seeds are 78-10 SU and 47-39-2 ATS vs. No. 14 seeds, including 34-1 SU & 26-8-1 ATS off a SU favorite loss.
• No. 4 seeds are 69-19 SU and 49-38-1 ATS vs. No. 13 seeds, including 34-16 ATS as favorites of less than 10 points.
• No. 5 seeds are 57-31 SU and 43-45 ATS vs. No. 12 seeds, including 9-6 SU and 6-9 ATS the last four years. In addition, No. 12 seeds that participated in last year’s event are 21-16 SU against No. 5’s dating back to 1985. Those who did not play in this tournament the previous season are 17-58 SU in this round. FYI: a No. 12 seed has failed to beat a No. 5 seed only twice since 1988.
• No. 6 seeds are 60-28 SU and 47-39-2 ATS vs. No. 11 seeds, including 9-8 SU and 4-12-1 ATS vs. an opponent off an ATS win of more than 7 points.
• No. 7 seeds are 49-39 SU and 46-41-1 ATS vs. No. 10 seeds, including 1-7 SU and ATS 1-7 ATS when off back-to-back SU losses.
• No. 8 seeds are 43-45 SU and 42-44-2 ATS vs. No. 9 seeds, including 8-14 SU and 7-15 ATS as favorites of 3 or more points.
Pete Tiernan of Bracketscience.com reminds us that since 1985, No. 5 and 6 seeds own identical 74-38 SU marks against No. 12 and 11 seeds respectively.
FIRST ROUND NOTES
Conference tournament champs most recent trends in this round (numbers all ATS)
ACC: 3-1-1, Atlantic 10: 2-4, Big Ten: 4-2, Big 12: 0-3, Big East: 5-1, Big West: 1-6, Colonial: 7-4, C-USA: 1-5, Horizon: 4-1, MAC: 3-0, Missouri Valley: 2-5-1, Mountain West: 4-1-1, Pac-12: 5-2, Sun Belt: 3-2, SEC: 2-3, WAC: 2-6, West Coast: 2-5.ß
Best team records (SU) in this round
N Carolina: 10-0, Kansas: 6-0, Pittsburgh: 6-0, Wisconsin: 6-0, UCLA: 5-0, Gonzaga: 5-0, Kansas State: 5-0, NC State: 5-0, Syracuse: 4-0, Duke: 14-1, Cincinnati 10-1.
Worst team records (SU) in this round
New Mexico State: 0-5, Minnesota: 0-4, UNLV: 0-3, San Diego State: 1-4, Temple: 1-4.
Best team ATS records in this round
VCU: 5-0, Kansas State: 4-0, NC State: 4-0, St. Louis: 4-0, Western Kentucky: 4-0, Cincinnati: 3-0, Butler: 8-1, Indiana: 5-1.
Worst team ATS records in this round
Oregon: 0-7, Temple: 0-5, Minnesota: 0-4, Creighton: 1-5, Notre Dame: 1-5, Villanova: 1-5, Memphis: 1-4.
Best conference ATS records in this round
Big Ten: 11-2, Pac-12: 8-2, Horizon: 9-3, MAC: 9-2 dogs, Colonial: 10-5.
Worst conference ATS records in this round
CUSA: 1-6, Big West: 1-5, Ivy: 2-11, Big 12: 3-9.
MOST RECENT ‘ANY ROUND’ TRENDS
• Favorites of seven or more points who are 3-0 SU & ATS in their last 3 games are 14-31 ATS vs. foes off a SU win… and 16-5 ATS vs. an opponent off a SU loss.
• Favorites of 20 or more points with a win percentage of less than .880 are 2-14-1 ATS vs. a foe off a SU win.
• Favorites of more than 7 points who scored 100 points or more in their last game are 19-7 ATS, including 14-2 ATS the last sixteen games.
• Underdogs of 4 or more points playing off a SU post-season tourney win as a dog of six or more points are 14-37-1 ATS since 2000.
If this is not enough to get your blood flowing then you may be seriously in need of a cardiologist.
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