NCAA Tournament Betting Factors That Are Overhyped

NCAA tournament betting factors that are overhyped.

Key Points

– Casual bettors overhype a number of NCAA tournament betting factors. 

– Smart bettors do not fall for the hype.

NCAA Tournament Betting Factors That Are Overhyped

Every year when the NCAA Tournament comes around, several factors are mentioned that have a significant impact on the event’s outcome. Some of the factors are actually very important. Other factors are deemed important by the betting public, but in reality they are not.

The ability to identify elements that don’t truly have a big impact on any game’s outcome is a characteristic shared by smarter bettors. It helps them avoid early March Madness betting mistakes. There are six NCAA tournament betting factors that are just ridiculously overhyped. We examine each below.


Every year, as soon as the bracket is announced, you’ll hear all kinds of comments about the teams that have to endure grueling travel. Teams from the west and east coasts will have to travel across the country to play in their respective brackets. Big deal.

Too many bettors will make assumptions regarding the effects and potential unfairness of travel. It’s really not that important. Between their final conference tournament game and their opening tournament game, teams typically have at least three days off. Some will have more.

Teams travel all season long. Traveling across time zones is nothing new for teams that have done it all year. The best part of the tournament for first round winners is that they stay in the same hotel and don’t have to travel to play in their second game. 

If they advance to the Sweet Sixteen, they will have four to five days off before they travel again. This is exactly what they do during the season. Public bettors will put way too much emphasis on traveling during the NCAA tournament.

The one time when travel might play a small role in handicapping an NCAA tournament game is with teams that qualify for March Madness and must play in a play-in game. Play-in games are held on Tuesday and Wednesday before the first round begins on Thursday.

All play-in games are in Dayton, Ohio. That means a team could play in Ohio on Tuesday and have to play less than 48 hours later on the West coast. That’s not ideal, but in most cases, travel during the tournament is way overvalued.


NCAA Tournament Betting Factors – Player Out

Every year, a few well-known athletes are forced to sit out one or more NCAA tournament games due to a variety of circumstances. The most common reason is injuries. 

Public bettors will almost always overreact to a star player being out for a tournament game. Take a team that will play without its leading scorer. The public will fade that team as a result

Those casual bettors fail to look at what the team did during the season without that player. A team might have great depth. Too often, the public overlooks other factors that can influence the outcome of a March Madness game. 

Yes, it’s true that most teams will regress some when a starter is out. The level of that regression usually isn’t as great as public bettors think. It is another NCAA tournament betting factor that bettors put too much emphasis on.

Coaching History

You see these types of games all the time. A coach has a team in the tournament and is playing the school that he used to coach at a few years prior. Maybe he was an assistant at the opposing school.

How about when a coach is a finalist for another job and isn’t given the opportunity? Now, he’s facing that team that overlooked him in the NCAA tournament.

These are just a few of the many different coaching storylines that fans will see in the NCAA tournament. The problem is that recreational bettors get caught up in the media frenzy. The media hypes these stories and bettors factor them into their betting decisions. 

This is not smart. There are too many other NCAA tournament betting factors to analyze prior to making betting decisions.

Conference Strength

This happens every year. The Big 12 or the ACC is the “best” conference in basketball, according to all the experts. The public will then buy into the hype and overvalue 19-12 teams from these conferences that make the tournament.

The problem with conference strength is that the conference doesn’t play the tournament games. The individual teams do. Sure, playing great competition all season long can bring out the best in a team. 

The truth is that teams from strong conferences can struggle against weaker competition. Ask Virginia, a No. 1 seed in the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers, from the ACC, became the first No. 1 seed to lose a first-round game in the tournament. 

Looking into the relative strengths of each conference is usually a waste of time for college basketball handicappers. There are too many other NCAA tournament betting factors that are directly related to outcomes.

Conference Tournament Play

Another one that public bettors buy into is the team that won four or five games to win its respective conference tournament. Yes, teams will often carry some momentum into March Madness.

UConn was the No. 9 seed in the 2011 Big East tournament. The Huskies would win the conference tournament then go on to win a national championship as a No. 3 seed. That is an outlier. It doesn’t really matter how well a college basketball team did at its conference tournament. 

There are times when a conference tournament victor will struggle during the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament due to a lack of focus and effort. In contrast, occasionally a team will turn things around and play well in the NCAA tournament after having a bad conference tournament performance. 

Sometimes, teams will lose early in their conference tournament and then benefit from having the extra time off. There are just too many other factors involved to draw conclusions based on conference tournament play alone.

NCAA Tournament Betting – Past Tourneys

Smart bettors stay away from this one. Public bettors will put too much stock in how teams have done in the NCAA tournament in the past. For example, a certain team won its first tournament game nine out of the last ten years. Another has lost its last five Sweet Sixteen games. 

Very few of the players on a current team had anything to do with some of the past tournament performances. Every season brings a new team, a new chemistry, and new results. 

Considering past tournament performances is one of the big mistakes that bettors make when engaging in NCAA tournament betting. It’s one of the sports betting traps to avoid