Makinen: March Madness First Round matchup trends

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Continuing my series on qualifying all of the trends I posted in my Round-By-Round and Conference articles in the VSiN Tournament Betting Guide to the specific 2023 matchups, I am here to share the First Round data. I am doing this to take some of the prep time off your plate to make sure we don’t miss any golden opportunities. Hopefully, you were able to catch my first piece on the First Four games that was released on Tuesday, as it showed some definitive angles towards the UNDERS as well as Pittsburgh in those games. Let’s get right into it, and you’ll see that I’ve also added any pertinent head-to-head series trends when they were definitive.

 

First-Round Trends

Overall Trends

– Teams that didn’t make their conference tournament championship game are on a first-round slide of just 32-57-2 ATS (36%) versus conference champions, making them good go-against teams. This includes a record of 4-6 ATS in 2022, with outright losses by San Francisco, Connecticut, and Kentucky among those games. (Against Kansas St -8.5, Baylor -14, Connecticut -9.5, Indiana -4, Miami -2, Tennessee -11.5)

– Power conference schools that lost SU and ATS in their conference championship game are 56-14 SU and 39-29-2 ATS (57.4%) in the first round over the last 14 seasons, perhaps a sign that the tournament experience they gained was valuable despite the conference championship loss. (Virginia -5, Kansas -22, Xavier -11.5, UCLA -17.5 – Texas A&M and Penn St face each other)

– Oddsmakers have done bettors a favor by signaling first-round upsets, as small first-round favorites of -1 to -3 are just 49-55 SU and 38-62-4 ATS (38%) since ’09. (Against Arkansas -1.5, Memphis -2, Miami -2, Michigan St -2, Northwestern -1.5, Texas A&M -3, Utah St -1.5, West Virginia -2)

– Of late, mid-level favorites of -3.5 to -7.5 have also struggled, going 30-20 SU but 20-30 ATS (40%) since ’16 in the first round. (Against Creighton -5.5, Duke -6.5, Indiana -4, Iowa St -4, Kentucky -4, San Diego St -5.5, St Mary’s-CA -4, Virginia -5)

– Only six first-round favorites of 14.5 points or more out of 166 have lost outright while going 80-81-4 ATS (49.7%), so while a near automatic bracket advancement, these teams are coin flips as point spread wagers. Of course, Kentucky was the most recent to do so, losing 85-79 to St. Peter’s last March. (Alabama -24, Arizona -14.5, Gonzaga -16, Houston -19.5, Kansas -22, UCLA -17.5)

By Seeds

– There are some sweet spots when it comes to betting #1 seeds. As favorites of -19 to -25 points, they are just 12-21 ATS (36.4%) since ‘09. When favored by 18.5 or less, they are on an 8-1 ATS run. (Against Alabama -24, Houston -19.5, Kansas -22, Purdue approx. -24)) 

– #1 seeds have flexed their muscles defensively over the last six tournaments, going 10-2 UNDER the total (83.3%) while holding opponents to 59.3 PPG.  (UNDER 155.5 ALA-AMCC, UNDER 122.5 HOU-NKU, UNDER 146 KAN-HOW, UNDER TBD PUR-TBD)

– Be wary of laying big numbers with #2 seeds, as they are just 12-23-1 ATS (34.3%) since ’05 when favored by 17 points or more. This includes four straight ATS losses and an upset of Kentucky a year ago. (Against UCLA -17.5)

– The last 19 #3 seeds to play in first-round games are on an impressive 18-1 SU and 12-7 ATS (63.2%) surge, including 10-2 ATS (83.3%) as favorites of 11.5 points or more. (Gonzaga -16, Xavier -11.5, Baylor -11, Kansas St -8.5)

– #3 seeds playing as single-digit favorites are on a massive UNDER the total run, 20-6 (76.9%) since ’03, with games producing almost 7.2 PPG below their posted numbers on average. (UNDER 139 KSU-MSU)

–  #4 seeds have been somewhat unreliable lately for bettors, going 11-20-1 ATS (35.5%) over the last eight tourney seasons, including 5-13-1 ATS (27.8%) when favored by 8.5 points or more. (Against Tennessee -11.5, Connecticut -9.5, Indiana -4, Virginia -5)

– #12 seeds are now on a 31-18-3 ATS (63.3%) run against the #5 seeds since ’09, highlighted by a 16-7-2 ATS (69.6%) record when playing as underdogs of 6 points or more. (Drake 2, VA Commonwealth 4, College of Charleston 5.5, Oral Roberts 6.5)

– Power Conference Schools are 22-18 SU and 11-27-2 ATS (28.9%) as #5 seeds in the first round since ’08. As #12 seeds, they are on a 13-4-1 ATS (76.5%) surge. (Against Duke -6.5, Miami -2)

– Of the last 24 #5-#12 matchups, 18 have gone OVER the total (75%), including another three of four in 2022. (OVER 145 DUK-ORU, OVER 141.5 SDSU-CofC, OVER 123 STM-VCU, OVER 146.5 MIA-DRK)

#6 seeds are 24-28 SU and 19-32-1 ATS (37.3%) in their last 52 first-round games versus #11’s (also 33-18-1 UNDER – 64.7%) (Against Creighton -5.5, Iowa St -4, Kentucky -4, TCU TBD – UNDER in all four games)

– In #6-#11 games set with the #6 playing as an underdog or pick em’, the #6’s are just 4-11 SU & ATS (26.7%) since ’01. This is a classic trap set by oddsmakers and it happened again in 2022, with #6 Colorado State losing to Michigan. (NONE for ‘23)

–  Be aware of a total opportunity when #6 seeds are favored by 4 points or more, as UNDERS are 15-5 (75%) in such games since ’09, with games producing just 129.9 PPG on average, with totals of about 137.6. (UNDER 148 CRE-NCST, UNDER 131.5 ISU-PIT, UNDER 145.5 KEN-PRO, TCU TBD)

– Non-power conference schools playing as #7 seeds have been a sound wagering choice, 21-9-1 ATS (70%) since ‘04. In last year’s bracket, #7 Murray State (-2) edged San Francisco by 5. (NONE for ’23)

– #7-#10 matchups have been some of the higher-scoring tilts of late, going 17-10 OVER (63%) since ’15. (OVER 136.5 MSU-USC, OVER 128 NOR-BSU, OVER 134.5 A&M-PSU, OVER 155.5 MIZ-USU)

– #8 seeds went 1-3 SU and ATS in 2022, running their four-year mark to just 5-11 SU and ATS (31.3%). (Against Arkansas -2, Memphis -2, Iowa 1, Maryland 2)

– As small favorites of 3 points or less over #9’s, #8 seeds are on a brutal skid of 7-14 SU and 4-16-1 ATS (20%)! (Against Arkansas -2, Memphis -2)

– Of the last 21 #8-#9 matchups, 16 have gone OVER the total (76.2%). (OVER 142.5 ARK-ILL, OVER 153 MEM-FAU, OVER 152.5 IOW-AUB, OVER 137.5 MAR-WVU)

– Combined, non-power conference programs playing in the #4-#6 seeds over the last 20 years have gone 26-23 SU but 18-30-1 ATS (37.5%). They have been far more successful against the spread in the lesser pressure #7 & #8 seeds, 33-23-4 ATS (58.9%) in that same time range. (Against SDSU -5.5, St Mary’s-CA -5 – ON Memphis -2)

– Power conference programs have been very dangerous in the #11-#14 seed range, going 26-16 SU and 26-15-1 ATS (63.4%) since ’08. (Pittsburgh 4, Providence 4, NC State 5.5, ASU TBD)

Applicable Conference Trends for First-Round Games

ACC

– Besides putting two teams in the Final Four in 2022, the ACC enjoyed a banner performance overall in last year’s tournament, 14-5 SU and 15-4 ATS (79%). (All ACC — Duke, Miami, NC State, Pittsburgh, Virginia)

-In the role of pick em’ or small underdog (up to 4.5 points), ACC teams are currently on a 12-3 ATS (80%) surge. (Pittsburgh 4)

ACC teams are just 28-46-1 ATS (37.8%) as favorites of 5 points or less in the NCAA’s since ’98. (Against Miami -2, Virginia -5)

ACC teams playing as double-digit seeds are 14-6-1 ATS (70%) since 2012. (Pittsburgh 4, NC State 5.5)

In the 16 most recent NCAA tourney matchups between the ACC and Big East, OVER the total is 12-4 (75%). (OVER 148 NCST-CRE)

America East

– Vermont’s ATS win versus Arkansas in 2022 ran the America East record in the NCAAs to 11-3 ATS (78.6%) since 2011. (Vermont 11)

America East teams are 14-8-1 UNDER (63.6%) the total in NCAAs since ’03. (UNDER 144 VER-MAR)

American Athletic

American Athletic teams have won their last 7 NCAA tourney games versus fellow mid-major teams ATS (100%). (Houston -19.5, Memphis -2)

-As seeds #7-#10, American Athletic teams have been dangerous lately, going 11-8 SU and 14-5 ATS (73.7%) in their last 19 tourney tries. (Memphis -2)

Atlantic 10

– Atlantic 10 teams have won just two of their last 10 NCAA tourney games, both SU and ATS (20%). (Against VCU 4)

– Favorites are on a 17-4 SU and 14-7 ATS (66.7%) surge in Atlantic 10 NCAA tourney games since 2015. (Against VCU 4)

Atlantic Sun

– Atlantic Sun teams are on a 10-4 ATS (71.4%) run in NCAA tourney games since ’13, including 8-3 ATS (72.7%) vs. major conferences, however, they have lost two in a row on both trends. (Kennesaw St 11.5)

Atlantic Sun teams are on 12-5 OVER (70.6%) the total run in NCAA’s. (OVER 151 KSU-XAV)

Big Ten

– Big 12 teams have been dominant in the Play-in/First-Round games of the tournament since ’17, going 25-8 SU and 22-11 ATS (66.7%). (Baylor -11, Iowa St -4, Kansas -22, Kansas St -8.5, TCU TBD, Texas -13.5, West Virginia -2)

– Favorites are 12-4 SU and 11-5 ATS (68.8%) in their last 16 NCAA tournament games between the Big 12 and Big Ten. (West Virginia -2)

-Against mid-major teams in the NCAAs, Big 12 teams are on a 13-5 ATS (72.2%) surge. (Baylor -11, Kansas -22, Kansas St -8.5, TCU TBD, Texas -13.5)

-Underdogs are on a 15-3 ATS (83.3%) run in NCAA tourney games between Big 12 and Pac 12 teams. Big 12 teams are just 6-12 ATS (33.3%) in those contests. (TCU TBD)

As favorites of 7 points or more in the NCAAs, Big 12 teams are on a current run of 22-1 SU and 15-8 ATS (65.2%). (Baylor -11, Kansas -22, Kansas St -8.5, Texas -13.5)

Big East

– NCAA tourney games between the Big East and ACC have gone 12-4 OVER the total (75%) since ’13. (OVER 148 CRE-NCST)

– Favorites are 28-14 ATS (66.7%) in the last 42 Big East NCAA tourney games. (Against Providence 4, On Connecticut -9.5, Creighton -5.5, Marquette -11, Xavier -11.5)

– In NCAA tourney games between Big East programs and non-major conferences since ’15, favorites are on a 21-8 SU and ATS (72.4%) run. (Connecticut -9.5, Marquette -11, Xavier -11.5)

Big Sky

Big Sky teams are just 1-21 SU and 6-16 ATS (27.3%) in the tournament since 2001, including 3-15 ATS (16.7%) as an underdog of fewer than 20 points. (Against Montana St 8.5)

Big Sky teams have lost 20 straight NCAA tournament games against major conference teams, going 5-15 ATS (25%). (Against Montana St 8.5)

Big South

– Big South teams are 8-3-1 ATS (72.7%) as #16 seeds in the tournament since ’03, 3-7 ATS (30%) in all other seeds. (Against #15 UNC-Asheville 17.5)

Big South teams are on a 15-4 UNDER the total (78.9%) tourney surge vs. major conference teams, scoring just 57.3 PPG. (UNDER 134.5 UNCA-UCLA)

Big Ten

Big Ten teams have been vulnerable in the #4 seed of late, 3-12-1 ATS (20%) in their last 16 tourney tries. (Against Indiana -4)

Big Ten teams have been strong in the double-digit chalk role in the tournament, 49-4 SU and 29-20-4 ATS (59.2%) since ’98. However, Purdue did lose outright to St. Peter’s a year ago. (Purdue TBD)

Big Ten teams are on a 10-4 SU and 12-1-1 ATS (92.3%) vs. SEC foes in the NCAA tourney. (Illinois 1.5, Iowa 1, Penn St 3)

Big Ten teams have gone just 5-17 ATS (22.7%) since ’15 in the NCAA tournament vs. Big 12 and Pac 12 foes. (Against Maryland 2, Michigan St -2)

– In tourney games with single-digit point spreads versus mid-major conference foes in the NCAA’s, Big Ten teams are on an ugly 26-43 ATS (37.7%) skid since ‘06. (Against Indiana -4, Northwestern -1.5)

Big West

– Big West teams are just 4-18 SU and 8-13-1 ATS (38.1%) in their last 22 NCAA tournament games. (Against UC-Santa Barbara 11.5)

Big West teams have trended OVER on totals in the NCAAs since ’99, 18-13 (58.1%). (OVER 143 UCSB-BAY)

Big West teams have struggled in the role of large underdog, 1-19 SU and 7-13-1 ATS (35%) when catching 6.5 points or more in the tourney since ’98. (Against UC-Santa Barbara 11.5)

Colonial Athletic

Colonial Athletic teams have been the country’s best in terms of NCAA tournament spread performance, 26-11-3 ATS (70.3%) since ’01. However, they have lost their last three games, both SU and ATS. (Coll of Charleston 5.5)

Colonial Athletic teams are on a 23-8-2 ATS (74.2%) run as NCAA tourney dogs to major conference teams. Again though, they are off three straight losses currently. (Coll of Charleston 5.5)

– UNDER the total is 7-2 (77.8%) in the last 9 Colonial Athletic NCAA tournament games versus other non-power conference teams. (UNDER 141.5 CofC-SDSU)

Conference USA

– Conference USA teams are just 6-16 SU and 7-15 ATS (31.8%) in the NCAA’s since ’09. (Against Fla Atlantic 2)

Conference USA teams are on a brutal slide of 4-23 SU and 5-22 ATS (18.5%) as single-digit underdogs in the NCAA tournament. (Against Fla Atlantic 2)

Conference USA teams seeded in the bottom half of the tournament (seeds 9 or worse) are on a 10-24 SU and 12-22 ATS (35.3%) skid. (Against Fla Atlantic 2)

Horizon

– Horizon League teams have lost 11 of their last 12 NCAA tourney games while going 4-8 ATS (33.3%). (Against N Kentucky 19.5)

– Horizon League teams are on a 15-7 UNDER the total (68.2%) NCAA run. (UNDER 122.5 NKU-HOU)

– Line placement has been key in Horizon League NCAA tourney games. As dogs of 8 points or more, they are 0-13 SU and 4-9 ATS (30.8%) since ’02. In all other games, they are 20-10 SU and 22-8 ATS (73.3%). (Against N Kentucky 19.5)

Ivy

– Ivy League teams have gone 5-11 SU and 10-6 ATS (62.5%) in their last 16 NCAA tourney games. (Princeton 14.5)

Ivy League teams are on an 18-9 UNDER the total (66.7%) NCAA run, including UNDERS in all of the last 5. (UNDER 154 PRI-ARI)

– As underdogs of 6 points or more in the NCAA’s, Ivy League teams are just 1-17 SU and 7-11 ATS (38.9%) since 2000. They are also 15-3 UNDER the total (83.3%) in those games, scoring just 58.4 PPG. (Princeton 14.5 – UNDER 154 PRI-ARI)

Metro Atlantic

– St. Peter’s snapped a 13-game NCAA tourney losing streak for Metro Atlantic teams by winning three times last year. MAAC teams are now 5-1 ATS (83.3%) in their last 6 tourney tries, including 4-0 ATS (100%) as double-digit dogs. (Iona 9.5)

Mid-American

– Mid-American teams are 14-5 ATS (73.7%) in their last 19 NCAA tourney games as a #13 seed or worse, but 9-11 ATS (45%) in other seeds during that stretch. (Kent St 4)

Mid-Eastern

– MEAC teams are on a 4-14 SU and 5-13 ATS (27.8%) slide in the NCAA’s. (Against Howard 22.5)

– MEAC teams are 1-9 SU and 2-8 ATS (20%) in their last 10 NCAA tourney games as double-digit dogs. (Against Howard 22.5)

– NCAA Tourney games featuring MEAC teams have trended heavily UNDER on totals, 18-8 (69.2%) in the last 26. (UNDER 146 HOW-KAN)

Missouri Valley

– Missouri Valley teams are on a 20-13 SU and 20-12-1 ATS (62.5%) run in the NCAA tournament since 2013 and are on an 18-8-1 ATS (69.2%) run against power conference schools. (Drake 2)

Missouri Valley teams have covered 12 of their last 14 (85.7%) and are 18-6-1 ATS (75%) since ’07 as an NCAA tournament underdog or pick em’. (Drake 2)

-Underdogs are 19-6-1 ATS (76%) since 2013 in Missouri Valley NCAA tourney games. (Drake 2)

-UNDER the total is 13-6 (68.4%) in the last 19 Missouri Valley NCAA tourney games. (UNDER 146.5 DRK-MIA)

Mountain West

– Mountain West teams’ struggles in the NCAAs haven’t been that well-documented, but collectively they are just 21-53 SU and 22-49-3 ATS (31%) since 2001, including nine straight outright and ATS defeats! (Against Boise St 1.5, San Diego St -5.5, Utah St -1.5, Nevada?)

– As tournament underdogs, Mountain West teams are just 8-37 SU and 11-31-3 ATS (26.2%) since ’01. (Against Boise St 1.5, Nevada TBD)

Mountain West teams have also come up short in the favorite role lately as well in the NCAAs, 5-12 SU and 4-13 ATS (23.5%) since ’11. (Against San Diego St -5.5, Utah St -1.5)

Mountain West teams have been totally overmatched against major conference programs in the NCAAs since 2000, 9-42 SU and 12-37-2 ATS (24.5%). (Against Boise St 1.5, Utah St -1.5, Nevada TBD)

-As seeds of 8 or worse in the NCAAs, Mountain West teams are on a brutal 3-29 SU and 5-25-2 ATS since ’03! %). (Against Boise St 1.5, Utah St -1.5, Nevada TBD)

Northeast

– Northeast Conference teams have lost 15 straight First-Round NCAA tournament games while going 5-9-1 ATS (35.7%). (Against FDU TBD)

– Twelve of the last 19 Northeast Conference NCAA tourney games have gone OVER the total (63.2%). (UNDER FDU-PUR TBD)

Pac-12

– Underdogs are on a 13-5 ATS (72.2%) surge in NCAA tourney games between the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences. The Pac-12 has won the last 5 SU and ATS. (USC 2)

– Pac-12 teams have performed extremely well as underdogs lately in NCAA tourney games, 35-16 ATS (68.6%) since ’11. (USC 2, ASU TBD)

– Double-digit seeded Pac-12 teams in the NCAAs have been hard to knock out, as they are 26-19 SU and 33-12 ATS (73.3%) since ’09. (USC 2, ASU TBD)

Patriot

– Patriot League teams are 10-7 ATS (58.8%) in the First Round of the NCAA tournament since ’04, including 5-2 ATS in the last 7, but are 1-4 ATS (20%) in all other games. (Colgate 13.5)

– Patriot League teams are 10-4 (71.4%) ATS as double-digit underdogs in the NCAAs since 2000. (Colgate 13.5)

– Patriot League teams are 12-6 (66.7%) ATS vs. power conference foes in the NCAAs since 2001. (Colgate 13.5)

SEC

– Seeded in the bottom half of the field (#9-#14), SEC teams have struggled to an 8-21 SU and 10-17-2 ATS (37%) record since ’07. (Against Auburn -1)

– The #4 seed and the SEC haven’t meshed well of late, as they are 13-21 ATS (38.2%) in that spot since ’00 and have gone UNDER the total at a 25-8-1 (75.7%) rate. (Against Tennessee -11.5, UNDER 136.5 TEN-ULL)

– As NCAA favorites of more than 20 points, SEC teams are 9-0 OVER the total (100%) since ’01, scoring 85.8 PPG. (OVER 155.5 ALA-AMCC)

– Underdogs are 32-15 ATS (68.1%) in the last 47 SEC NCAA tourney games overall. (Against Alabama -24.5, Arkansas -1.5, Auburn -1, Kentucky -4, Tennessee -11.5, Texas A&M -3 – On Missouri 1.5)

– As pick em’s or small favorites of 5 points or less, SEC teams are an ugly 39-47 SU and 31-51-4 ATS (37.8%) in the NCAAs since ’99. (Against Arkansas -1.5, Auburn -1, Kentucky -4, Texas A&M -3)

Southern

Southern Conference teams have been very competitive in the NCAAs when playing as an underdog of less than 15 points, 15-5 ATS (75%) in the last 20. (Furman 5)

– Southern Conference teams have trended UNDER the total in recent NCAAs, 11-2 (84.6%) in the last 13. (UNDER 132 FUR-VIR)

Southland

– As underdogs of 8.5 points or less, Southland Conference teams are 6-3-1 ATS (66.7%) in their last 10 NCAA tournament tries, but when a larger underdog than that, they are 0-17 SU and 6-10-1 ATS (37.5%). (Against Texas A&M CC 24.5)

– Southland Conference teams are 12-3 UNDER the total (80%) in their last 15 NCAA tournament first-round games. (UNDER 155.5 AMCC-ALA)

Summit

– Overall, Summit League teams are on a 7-2-1 ATS (77.9%) run in NCAA tourney action, including a 3-0 ATS sweep by Oral Roberts in 2021. Underdogs are 8-1-1 ATS (88.9%) in those games. (Oral Roberts 6.5)

Summit League teams have been a very competitive First-Round NCAA team in recent years, going 2-6 SU BUT 6-1-1 ATS (85.7%) in the last 8. (Oral Roberts 6.5)

-Recognized as a high-scoring, up-tempo league, four of the last five NCAA tourney games featuring a Summit League team went UNDER the total (80%). (UNDER 145 ORU-DUK)

Sun Belt

Sun Belt teams have lost their last 6 NCAA tournament games while going 1-5 ATS (16.7%). UNDER the total is also 5-1 (83.3%) in those games. (Against LA-Lafayette 11.5, U136.5 ULL-TEN)

– As #14-#16 seeds in the NCAAs, Sun Belt teams are on a 6-11-1 ATS (35.3%) slide since ’99, but as #13 or better they’ve gone 9-4 ATS (69.2%) in that same span. (LA-Lafayette 11.5)

– As underdogs of 7.5 points or less, Sun Belt teams are on a 2-9 SU and 2-8-1 ATS (20%) slide in the NCAAs. (Against LA-Lafayette 11.5)

– As double-digit dogs, although they’ve never pulled an outright upset, Sun Belt teams are on a 10-4 ATS (71.4%) surge in the NCAAs. (LA-Lafayette 11.5)

Sun Belt teams seem to take some motivation from playing major conference teams, as they are on an NCAA tourney run of 7-4 ATS (64.6%) versus those foes since ’08. (LA-Lafayette 11.5)

SWAC

SWAC teams are on a 5-2 ATS (71.4%) run currently in NCAA tourney games, including back-to-back wins in Play-In games. (Texas Southern TBD)

– Despite allowing 87.8 PPG, SWAC teams are 4-2 ATS in their L6 NCAA First-Round contests. (Texas Southern TBD)

WAC

WAC teams have won just three games in the NCAAs since ’04, going 3-22 SU & 10-15 ATS (40%). (Against Grand Canyon 16)

-Six of the last seven WAC NCAA tourney games have gone OVER the total (85.7%). (OVER 156.5 GCU-GON)

West Coast

– NO TRENDS APPLY

Head-to-Head Series Trends for First Round

(741) LA LAFAYETTE at (742) TENNESSEE

* Tennessee is on a 3-0 SU and ATS run versus LA-Lafayette, avg. MOV 26 PPG

(775) IONA at (776) CONNECTICUT

* Connecticut won the last two games vs. Iona handily, going 2-0 ATS, winning by 18.5 PPG

(789) PROVIDENCE at (790) KENTUCKY

* The last two games in the Providence-Kentucky series went UNDER, including the last contest in ’14, 58-38 UK