2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Betting Analysis: #5 vs. #12

Special thanks to @matteise for compiling the data used in this analysis. Check out our #4 vs. #13 first round analysis here.

Nowadays, it seems like there’s too many advanced stats developed everyday. NCAA basketball is no different. You have sites such as KenPom and RPI, among others that crunch data to give insights as to who truly are the best teams in the nation.

Now that Vegas released the spreads and O/U for just about every tournament matchup, let’s take a look at what we believe are the most interesting historical trends that have developed in March Madness from a betting perspective.

After looking at this, we’ll give a prediction of our safest bet of the four first round matchups with these seedings.

The Matchups (Lines Subject to Change)

#5 Auburn vs. #12 New Mexico St.

DateSpreadO/U1st Half Spread1st Half O/U
3/21Auburn -5.5145.5Auburn -367.5

#5 Marquette vs. #12 Murray State

DateSpreadO/U1st Half Spread1st Half O/U
3/21Marquette -3149.5Marquette -1.569.5

#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Oregon

DateSpreadO/U1st Half Spread1st Half O/U
3/22Wisconsin -2117Wisconsin -153

#5 Mississippi State vs. #12 Liberty

DateSpreadO/U1st Half Spread1st Half O/U
3/22Miss State -6.5134Miss State -3.562.5

Five Interesting Historical Facts On #5 v. #12 Spreads

  1. In the last five years, the #5 team is 7-10-3 ATS, but went 3-0-1 ATS last year.
  2. When favored by 4 or fewer points, the #5 team is 10-13-1 ATS. Both Wisconsin and Marquette are favored by less than 4.
  3. When the #12 team has a 3PT FG% ranking of 50 or worse AND a defensive 2PT FG% ranking of 125 or worse, the #5 team is 12-5 straight up and 8-8-1 ATS. The only #12 team that meets the above criteria is Oregon. This seemingly favors Wisconsin due to the small spread.
  4. When the #5 team scored 75 or more points, the #5 team is 17-9-3 ATS, 3-0-1 last season. Auburn, Marquette, and Mississippi State all averaged over 75 PPG in Power 5 conferences.
  5. When the #5 team scored 74 or fewer points, the #5 team is 10-24-1 ATS. Wisconsin averages just under 70 PPG.

Five Interesting Historical Facts On #5 v. #12 O/U

  1. In the last five years, the O/U record is 15-5, including 4-0 in 2016 and 2018.
  2. When the #5 team has a KenPom ranking that is no more than 30 ranking spots better than the #12 team, the O/U is 12-13-1. The Marquette/Murray State matchup fits this criteria.
  3. If the #5 team scores 75 or more points, the O/U is 27-2 (!!).
  4. When the #12 team scored 65 or more points, the O/U is 30-7-1.
  5. If the #5 team scores 74 or fewer points, the O/U is 7-27-1.

Our Safest Play – Auburn/New Mexico St. OVER 145.5

We’re going to qualify this by stating we’re a Wisconsin based startup and that we can see arguments for or against the spread for both the Wisconsin and Marquette games. And if you held a gun to our heads, we’d lean towards betting the OVER on both games instead of the spreads based on the matchups.

But we’d prefer a safer play, and we believe the Auburn/New Mexico St. OVER is the safest of them all with their #8 and #37 rankings in adjusted offensive efficiency, respectively.

Even better, both teams strengths on offense are perfect for the defensive weaknesses of both teams. Auburn is ranked #8 in 3PT attempts as a percentage of FG attempts and #27 in 3PT %. New Mexico State is ranked #105 in defensive 3PT % allowed. Conversely, New Mexico State is #9 in 2PT %, while Auburn is #192 in defensive 2PT % allowed.

The final stat that seals this is that Auburn is #1 in the nation in forcing turnovers and one of the top teams in transition FG%

Thus, we believe that the OVER here is the safest bet out of these first round matchups.

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