How Seeding Helps & Hurts March Madness Bettors

How seeding helps and hurts March Madness bettors.

Key Points

– March Madness bettors need to know when to consider seeding and when not to.

– Seeding can help March Madness bettors determine the relative strength of a team.

How Seeding Helps & Hurts March Madness Bettors

The topic of seeds, including which teams will be seeded where and what it implies for them, will dominate the conversation leading up to the NCAA tournament. In some respects, the heated debate is crucial for March Madness bettors to remember. In other cases, it is just a source of distraction. 

One of the keys to success betting the NCAA tournament is looking at the number of ways that seeds can help you. Keep in mind, there are also an equal number of ways seeds can hurt you. All March Madness bettors beware. 

Seeds Indicates Strength

At first glance, NCAA tournament seeds appear to be beneficial because they can provide a broad indication of how strong teams are. Even if you didn’t follow the Big South or the MAAC closely throughout the season, you can still get a good sense of how strong the conferences are. 

By looking at where their conference champions are seeded, you can gain an idea of a team’s strength. You might see a mid-major conference champion seeded as high as No. 10. When a team is seeded No. 15 or 16, that also tells you something.

Pay close attention to a team’s seed as it may give you an idea of how strong they are.


March Madness Bettors Can Compare Conference Teams

Seeding can give you an idea of the relative strength of teams from the same conference. Some of the major conferences will have five, six, or even more teams represented in the NCAA tournament.

Comparing those teams can be made easier by looking at their seeds in relation to one another and to the rest of the tournament field. Consider a situation where multiple teams make the tournament from the Big Ten.

If Wisconsin received a No. 3 seed but Michigan received an 11, March Madness bettors would view Wisconsin as significantly superior to Michigan. At least, they would think that way in the eyes of the selection committee. 

While the strength disparities between teams in the same conference are frequently obvious, there are instances when they might not be so clear. In those situations, the seeds can bring clarity. 

Seeding Influences the Public

Those who wager on sports place a high value on seeds because they probably don’t study the finer points of the sport very closely throughout the season. As a result, the higher seed will typically start as the favorite in most games. 

Although March Madness seeds don’t necessarily represent strength, more knowledgeable gamblers know seeds affect public opinion. Smarter bettors understand things like pace, efficiency, and winning college basketball bets. They also understand that seeds can be highly helpful in shifting public opinion away from the better team. That generates genuine value on underdogs. 

Not Always Reflection of Strength

This one should go without saying for the majority of March Madness bettors.  Just because a team is a high seed doesn’t always represent relative strength. Higher-seeded teams are not always superior to lower-seeded teams. We know that because we see a half-dozen or so upsets in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament every year.

There are a number of explanations for this. For starters, it can be exceedingly difficult for conference champions from mid-major leagues to break into the top half of the seeds. There have only been a few of these teams seeded higher than No. 9

A winner of a mid-major conference frequently lacks the exposure necessary to receive a higher seed. This does not imply that these teams are bad or unworthy of a higher seed. It’s just an unavoidable fact of the game.  Successful basketball teams in obscure mid-major conferences play against inferior competition. The result is that they frequently lack the reputation to build a non-conference schedule that would help their cause. 

March Madness Bettors See Committee Bias Toward Conferences

When the selection committee develops a soft spot for a particular conference, seedings become problematic again. Take the 2011 NCAA tournament as an example. 

For instance, the old Big East fielded 11 tournament teams in 2011. There is little doubt that the conference was receiving a lot of love, perhaps more than they deserved. Lower level teams in the league received more recognition than they deserved simply because they were members of the Big East.  

If some of those teams had competed in a different league, they probably wouldn’t have even made the tournament. March Madness bettors must know that the committee will favor teams from the major conferences. The fifth-place team in the Big 12, for example, is going to be viewed in a different light than the first-place team in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Keep that in mind as you look at how each team is seeded in the tournament.

Lower Seeds Can Win

This is essential since we all know that lower seeds win plenty of NCAA tournament games. March Madness bettors looking for more wins just have to find the right underdogs on which to bet.

For example, No. 12 seeds have won nearly 36 percent of the time since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 64 teams. We have even seen the first No. 16 seed pull an upset in the past few years of the tourney. 

Be careful when looking at seeds. Know when seeding can be beneficial and when it can cloud your judgment. As always, exercise caution when placing your March Madness bets.