2019 NCAABB Tournament Betting Analysis: Sweet 16

Special thanks to @matteise for compiling the data used in this analysis. Check out our all first round analysis here in our blog.

What a great first weekend for the NCAA Tournament. Now that the dust has settled, how did everyone do in their sports bets on March Madness?

Here’s a roundup of our tweets from the first weekend. We ended up going 8-4 on the weekend.

We went 5-2 on the first two days.
This was one of the few bets we got very wrong.
We bet Michigan State -10. They beat MN by 20.
2-2 on Saturday’s bets
Houston proved us right and beat Ohio State by 15.

Now, let’s take a look at the Sweet 16 matchups.

Sweet 16 Matchups (Lines subject to change)

All lines courtesy of Bovada

Eight Historical Facts On Sweet 16 Spreads & O/U

  1. From 2015-2018, the #1 Seeds are 10-1-1 ATS.
  2. Virginia is favored by 8 points, and Duke opened as an 8 point favorite. When the #1 Seed is favored by 8 or more points, the #1 Seed is 7-1 straight up and 5-3 ATS from 2010-2018.
  3. North Carolina vs. Auburn is the lone matchup with an O/U over 150. If there’s a game with a #1 Seed and the O/U is set at 150 or higher, the #1 Seed is 12-1 straight up, 9-2-2 ATS, and the O/U is 9-3-1.
  4. In #1 vs. #12 matchups, the #1 Seed is 6-2 ATS with an average margin of victory of 16.75 points. Only one game has been
    under 10 points (2013 Louisville 77 – Oregon 69). This gives us something to think about for the Virginia/Oregon matchup.
  5. Starting in 2015, in #1/#5 matchups, the #1 Seed is 6-0 straight up, including four victories by double digits.
  6. From 2015-2018, in #2/#3 matchups, the #2 Seed is 3-1 straight up. All four games had a double-digit point differential.
  7. When the #2 Seed plays in a Sweet 16 game where the O/U is set at 140 or higher, the last six have gone under. Tennessee/Purdue & Michigan State/LSU matchups have a O/U above 140.
  8. In the #2/#3 matchup, when the #2 Seed leads at the half, the #2 Seed is 7-0 S/U and 7-0 ATS.

Our First Bets and Safest Plays

We’re already in on betting Virginia -8 and North Carolina -5.

Virginia -8

Oregon made it to the Sweet 16 on the strength of their defense and their 3PT shooting. However, facing a Virginia offense ranked #2 in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency will be a lot tougher to defend than Wisconsin (#52) or UC-Irvine (#125).

Oregon did well to hold both Wisconsin and UC-Irvine to under 30% from downtown, but Virginia comes in ranked #4 in the country in 3PT % at over 40%. Also, Kyle Guy, leading scorer for Virginia, went only 2-15 shooting in Virginia’s win Sunday over Oklahoma, which possesses a top-25 defense. But the Cavaliers still managed to secure a 63-51 win. So Virginia can win comfortably even when their leading scorer has an off game.

Conversely, while Oregon has shot 50% from 3 so far this tournament, their season average is 34%, good for #171 in the country. Guess what Virginia is ranked in terms of defending the 3? Top in the country.

Thus, we expect a regression to the mean on offense for Oregon and for Virginia to win by double digits.

Otherwise, Virginia is better than Oregon in every facet of the game. For example:

  • Adjusted offensive efficiency (UVA #2 – Oregon #108)
  • Adjusted defensive efficiency (UVA #6 – Oregon #18)
  • Turnovers allowed per possession (UVA #14 – Oregon #125)
  • Rebounding per possession – In games that Virginia lost, they were out-rebounded by approximately 6 rebounds on average. Per possession, Virginia is a better offensive and defensive rebounding team than Oregon during the regular season.

In our view, the only way Virginia loses this spread is if they consistently beat themselves this game. We don’t see it happening in this matchup.

North Carolina -5

As far as our second bet, for Auburn to win, they need to create a lot of turnovers and knock down open 3s. Auburn took advantage of New Mexico St. and Kansas’s propensity to turn the ball over, but North Carolina is much better at taking care of the ball than those two. Finally, while NC does allow a lot of 3PT attempts per game, they allow less than 33% of three pointers to go in.

As far as other matchups, North Carolina ranks higher than Auburn in just about every advanced offensive and defensive metric, as well as coaching.

For example, Auburn is ranked lower (#45) in advanced defensive efficiency than most of the teams left in the tournament, but where they are absolutely terrible at is allowing offensive rebounds. On the other side, NC is a top 25 in the nation in offensive rebounds; Auburn showcases a measly #330 in offensive rebounds allowed.

Finally, since NC is in the 99th percentile of teams in terms of FG% at the rim, we see a lot of high percentage buckets for NC. Combine that with ranking as one of the top teams in the nation in transition, and we see NC covering a 5 point spread from a whole number of different game scenarios.

Best of luck to all those betting this weekend!

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