If Arkansas-Little Rock was the star of the show on Day 1 of March Madness, the plot of the script was about favorites and overs.
Favorites went 9-6 against the spread on Thursday with the Wichita State-Arizona game closing as a ‘pick ‘em’ while the OVER went 10-6.
While that may not make much for the drama that people usually hope for in the tournament, it does provide us with some key information heading into the second day of first round action on Friday.
Favorites are 314-321-9 against the spread in the first round over the past 20 years for a winning rate of 49.4 percent. Things even out over time, in other words.
It’s a pretty common them with fave-dog trends in most sports. They go about 50-50 over the course of a season and multiple seasons and it leaves little room for an edge if you were considering simply riding one side or the other.
Gotta tip your hat to oddsmakers for that, these guys are good at what they do.
With that in mind, we can take advantage of certain spots also if we hold firm to the data when discrepancies arise. Faves won at a 60 percent clip yesterday so don’t be surprised if today is an underdog day.
Anecdotally, that’s also been my experience in betting the tournament. If faves come in on the first day, it always just feels like the next day is upset day. If dogs bark early, it often kinda feels like the air is let out of the balloon a little on Day 2 and faves start rolling in.
I was looking at underdogs mostly today anyway, but now I’m going with them across the board with the exception of two games.
The two games I might leave out – or take the faves with – are Cincinnati and Michigan State. If the Bearcats are over the emotions of their quadruple overtime loss to UConn in their conference tournament, I like them to beat St. Joe’s.
Michigan State is the tournament favorite, has the second best scoring margin in the country (16.4) and has covered its last three first-round games in the tournament with an average win margin of 27.7 points.
Can’t ignore that data, just like you can’t ignore the historical ATS/underdog data for the first round.
So I’m taking every dog on the board today except Cincinatti and Michigan State. If you think this is a silly strategy, well I hope you're wrong. But consider this quick anecdote before you call me insane…
Years ago I was sitting with Bob Scucci, head of race and sports for Boyd Gaming, and Keith Glantz, co-founder of the Glantz-Culver line, at the Orleans in Las Vegas. While we were there chatting, Scucci told us that a big bettor rolled in that day and laid $50 grand on every MLB underdog on the board.
I think dogs went something like 9-6 that day when we counted them up. I’m sure there were other days when it went the other way too, but you get the point. In this case, a pro saw something and had the discipline and stones roll with it and it paid off.
No guarantees in sports betting, but I am putting faith in history to repeat itself in this spot and am going to give it a go.
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