March Madness Trends

March Madness Trends

Trends in sports betting are a great tool, but they are just that, tools. Anything can happen in sports, trends don't factor in the human element of a game, the heart of a team, or the performance of the players in the given game. However, trends can be a nice way to get started in how you view a game or event.

In this case, the event is the NCAA March Madness Tournament. We are not trying to influence how one should look at these games, or how to bet on them. These are just some historical trends for this tournament to consider when you're filling out your bracket.

The Number 1 Seeds Win

Don't overthink this one, no pun intended. I am sure everyone remembers when UMBC, a 16 seed, beat Virginia by a staggering 20 points. Virginia, the number one seed, was favored by 20.5 over UMBC.  Not only was this highly improbable, but this feat has always seemed impossible, which is why we all remember it well. The number one seeds in the history of the tournament are 143-1 in the first round.

Number 1 seeds also fair extremely well in the second round of the bracket as well. In the history of the tournament, number 1 seeds have won two or more games around 85% of the time.

Don't Get Too Cute with the Two's

While the 2 seeds don't stack up as well as the 1's in their first round, they are not too far behind. The number 2 seeds find themselves 135-9 in their matchups with the 15 seeds. A 94% win rate is not too shabby. The last time this upset occurred was in 2021 when Oral Roberts beat Ohio State as 16-point underdogs.

The 2 seeds see a significant drop-off in their win rate in the second round.  When it comes to winning in the round of thirty-two, the 2 seeds only win 67% of the time. Maybe "only" is not the right word, but it is a major drop from that 85% win rate for the 1 seed. It is also on the lower end when considering these games are played against the 7 or 10 seeds.

So, it might be beneficial to look for the 2 seed upset in round two but maybe leave it alone in their first game.

The Infamous 5 and 12 Seeds

These matchups are probably the most famous, or infamous, games people wait for every year. While the 5 seeds usually fall in the top 25 overall, there are real historical trends that make it hard not to pick one upset a year. Since 2000, there have only been four March Madness tournaments where all 5 seeds won. In 2022, we saw two 5 seeds lose in the opening round. Uconn lost to New Mexico State as -7 favorites, while Iowa lost to Richmond as -10 favorites.

Overall in the history of these matchups since the sixty-four team format in 1985, the 5 seeds are 93-52 against the 12 seeds. That 64% win rate opens the door for at least one of these upsets to occur each year. This is one trend to consider as you fill out a bracket for the office pool.

The 8 and 9 and Truly Even

If you think that the 8 and 9 seeds are the most even matchups due to the seeding, you would be correct. The 9 seeds currently have the edge for all time with a record of 76-72. So, it is about as even as you can get. Despite that even historical record, over the last seven tournaments, there has not been a 2-2 split. Since 2014 these. matchups have gone 3-1 or 4-0 in favor of one side.

In the selection process, the committee views the eight teams in the 8-9 seeding largely as equals, making these the hardest games to predict. However, after the initial game, the trends become easier to predict for your bracket. Both the 8 and the 9 seeds do not fair well in the round of 32. The 8 seeds have a record of 15-56 (21.1% win rate) in their second games all time. For 9 seeds, they see a 9% win rate for the second round, going 7-69 in those 76 appearances (sportsbettingdime).

The End of the Road

When it comes to the 6 and 11 seeds, it has been an even run as of late. Since 2011 the 11 seeds have had a slight edge over the 6's, winning 25 of the 48 games. The 11 seeds and 12 seeds are often very close in how the committee views them (obviously) and tend to perform above how many perceive them.

After the 12 seeds, the magic runs out for these underdogs. You can never say never, especially when it comes to March Madness. While there is value in having a few upsets selected in your brackets, it diminishes greatly with 13 and higher seeds. In the history of the tournament, these 13 seeds have a 31-117 record. It is tough taking the risk on teams only winning 20% of the time.

When making a bracket, knowing trends is not necessarily the top priority in making your decisions. However, bracket pools are all about gaining edges over the others you are competing against. This means taking calculated risks and being strategic in how you pick upsets.  Make sure you brush up on the trends to assist you in making your bracket. Oh, and make sure to follow the March Madness action over on the Pikkit app!