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Biggest March Madness Spreads Of All Time

Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky goes up to the basket against a Hampton defender.

March Madness is always filled with some of the most memorable moments of the sports calendar but it is often filled with some of the most lopsided contests as well. Dating back to the 1996 season, there have been 14 NCAAB Tournament games to see a closing spread of 30 or more points.

One would assume that covering such a large spread would be a difficult task – even if the matchups pit a national powerhouse against a little-known competitor. However, the favorites in the 14 games mentioned above are a middling 8-6 against the spread (ATS).

This happening has proven to be quite rare, though, as only once since 2009 has a team entered a March Madness contest favored by 30 or more. That came in 2015 when the Kentucky Wildcats – a team that featured Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein and Devin Booker – took on the Hampton Pirates, who had a 17-17 record. Kentucky started sluggishly and did not close out very strong, allowing Hampton to cover a 35-point spread.

The biggest spread in our database belongs to the 1999 Duke Blue Devils, who closed at -46.5 for their game against the Florida A&M Rattlers. Duke decimated Florida A&M 99-58 to start off a tournament run that ended at the national championship game, though the Blue Devils did fail to cover the massive spread. Duke was propelled in that game – and in the tourney overall – by the duo of Shane Battier and Elton Brand.

Being massive tourney favorites is a spot the Blue Devils have found themselves in more often than any other team, closing as faves of 30-plus points in six of the 14 games mentioned above. Duke is 4-2 ATS in those six games, the most recent of which came in 2004.  

Biggest March Madness Spreads
Lower Seed Higher Seed LineATS WinnerYear
Florida A&M58Duke99-46.5Florida A&M1999
Prairie View52Kansas110-37Kansas1998
Jackson St64Kansas78-36Jackson St1997
San Jose St72Kentucky110-33.5Kentucky1996
Alabama St61Duke96-33Duke2004
South Car St65Stanford84-31.5South Car St2000
Miss Valley St29UCLA70-31.5UCLA2008