2020 March Madness First Round Betting Trends to Ponder

We’re a little over a month away from March Madness 2020.

Selection Sunday 2020

Selection Sunday is March 15th, 2020 with the first round commencing on March 17th 2020.

This college basketball season has been crazy to say the least.




Baylor (19-1) lead the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll, but rank #3 at KenPom. Kansas rank #1 at KenPom, while Duke are #3. These three teams lead the futures market at most bookies.

Who would have thought the San Diego State Aztecs (23-0) would be undefeated? The mid-major ranks #4 on the KenPom ratings, AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll at the time of publishing.

It’s never too early to begin preparing to construct your brackets and opening round bets. Today, we’re going to look at some 2020 March Madness first round betting trends to ponder.

#1 - We’re Starting to Witness More Parity in CBB

Only one #1 seed has ever lost to a #16 seed during March Madness (1-139), but the loss was just two years ago. #16 UMBC famously dominated #1 Virginia (74-54) during the 2018 tournament.

What’s more interesting, #16 seeds are 5-3 ATS the last two years (2018-19).

Another trend that has held up over the years in the #1 seed vs. #16 match-up is that the #1 seed often covers when favored by -19.5 points or fewer (15-6 ATS). Some years this trend won’t apply, as the #1 seed are too big of favorites, which was the case in 2019, but since 2007 the trend is 8-2 ATS.

#2 - Targeting the #13 Seed Has Been Profitable Recently

The #13 seed has gone 6-2 ATS the last two years (4-0 ATS in 2018 and 2-2 ATS in 2019).

Not only that, but three #13 seeds have won straight up (SU) during that span. Whether you’re filling in your College Basketball bracket or looking for a March Madness moneyline underdog, consider the #13 seed.

UC Irvine upset Kansas State last year, while Marshall (vs. Wichita State) and Buffalo (vs. Arizona) won as #13 seeds in 2018. There’s a good chance at least one #13 seed will kill a lot of brackets.

#3 - The Famous #8 Seed vs. #9 Seed Debate

The selection committee tries their best to make the #8 and #9 seeds as equal as possible.

The public often over values the #8 seed, and that has been evident the last two years. In 2019, the #9 seed went 4-0 (4-0 ATS) and in 2018 the #9 seed went 3-1 (3-1 ATS).

Historically, the #8 vs. #9 seed match-up has been a coin toss (70-70 since 1985).

#4 - Be Cautious Betting on the #6 Seed vs. #11 Seed

Do you like betting on underdogs to win during the opening round of March Madness?

Dating back to 2014, the #11 seed has gone 13-11 SU against the #6 seed. Betting the moneyline on the #11 seed during this span would have generated a healthy profit.


During that same timeframe, the #11 seed is 17-7 ATS (70.8%), which is incredible.

Since 2017, the #11 seed is 6-6 SU and 9-3 ATS. In many cases, games between these two seeds are featuring teams of similar talent level, but the public over values the higher seed.

#5 - The #5 Seed is Great for Brackets, but not ATS vs. #12 Seed

Since 2009, the #5 seed is 25-16 SU against the #12 Seed, but only 17-26 ATS. While you may want to hold off on targeting many #12 seeds on your brackets, definitely bet them to cover ATS in round 1.

Last year, the #12 seed went 3-1 (3-1 ATS), but that isn’t likely to happen again in 2020. Prior to last year’s tournament, the #5 seed was on a 13-3 SU run between 2015-2018.

The key takeaway from many of these trends is to not focus on the seeding, but instead focus on the resume of each team. You’ll often find plenty of value betting on higher seeds to cover ATS.

The 2020 March Madness tournament looks like it’s going to have increased parity based on regular season results up to this point. There’s no clear-cut market favorite either.

We haven’t seen a mid-major win March Madness since UNLV defeated Duke (103-73) in 1990. It’ll be interesting to see if that trends changes with Gonzaga, San Diego State or Dayton in 2020.

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