March Madness Upsets: How to Spot the Best Betting Opportunities

The countdown to the 2023 NCAA March Madness is on. It’s now less than a month before the much-awaited tournament games start on March 14, and hoops fans are already looking into the best March Madness betting promos.

The March Madness tournament is always a hot spot for betting opportunities, especially with a large number of games you could place your bets on. You have to be wary, though, as we are always seeing a lot of unexpected upset victories in almost every iteration of the annual tournament.

Knowing the right teams to bet on and bet against, as well as staying on top of the team’s and player’s performances, could help you make wise bets. If you’re a beginner or a seasoned sports bettor, here are several tips to spot the best betting opportunities on NCAA March Madness.

Pick teams who are good on both offense and defense

Every March Madness game is a do-or-die scenario, so there’s no opportunity for teams to adjust their schemes after the games. Teams who are good on both ends of the floor tend to be more successful; if they’re struggling on offense in a specific game, they can use their defense to win games, and vice versa.

For example, the recent NCAA champions share one thing in common: they both rank in the Top 25 in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. 2022 March Madness champions Kansas Jayhawks ranked 3rd in offense and 17th in defense; 2021 March Madness champions Baylor Bears ranked 2nd in offense and 22nd in defense; 2019 March Madness champions Virginia Cavaliers ranked 2nd in offense and 5th in defense.

We know that the NCAA tournament is brimming with individual stars who can provide exciting highlights. However, most often than not, these one-man-wrecking-crew teams fall out of contention in the early rounds. Defenses will just send out double-team coverages on an excellent player, so things start to crumble if that player doesn’t have a good supporting cast around him.

Basketball is a team game, so if you’re going to place bets on March Madness, look for teams who have a balanced roster on both offense and defense.

Get behind the winningest coaches

Seasoned NCAA coaches who have a winning record in the March Madness already know what it takes to emerge victorious in the knockout tournament. These winning coaches know how to adjust their offense and defense against a variety of teams, and they know how to prepare their players, especially in strengthening their mentality.

Since 2010, NCAA champion teams have been coached by the likes of Bill Self, Jay Wright, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, and John Calipari — excellent coaches who hold winning track records in March Madness history. The NCAA tournament’s unique do-or-die setup may be tricky to place your bets on, so why don’t you get behind the coaches who have been there already?

Do your research on potential “Cinderella” teams

We get it — it’s enticing to place your bets on unknown teams who you think can pull off a string of upset victories in March Madness. Not a lot of people are brave enough to place their bets on unknown squads, so these teams’ value increases by leaps and bounds when they win.

When searching for a team that might make a “Cinderella” run, you have to consider two things: their net rating and their potential pathway in the tournament. Do your research on how balanced they are on offense and defense, then look at how they would match up with the teams who are on their pathway to the deeper rounds in the tournament.


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Author: Ben Burd

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Sports Economics