- The NCAA Tournament is here and there are lots of ways to wager
- March Madness props are a great way to maximize your ROI
- If you love the favorite, but don’t want to take a short price, a prop can make it much easier
While we think that props and the Super Bowl are married, what would it be like if those betting opportunities stretched over three weeks instead of on just one day, and there were 68 teams involved instead of only two? You get it: if props are your thing, the NCAA Tournament is your opportunity to go crazy.
Props work for such a large variety of reasons. If you love Duke, instead of taking a low price on their futures to win it all, or laying huge points in individual games, bet them creatively.
Whether it is on Zion Williamson to be Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament, or projecting how many points their stars will score, or guessing their future matchups as the bracket evolves, there are myriad ways to get your money on Duke, alone.
Let’s look at some of the best prop bets for the 2019 NCAA Tournament and find an angle or two to get down on them.
What seed will win the NCAA Tournament?
- #1 Seed: 3/5
- #2 Seed:7/2
- #3 Seed:11/1
- #4 Seed:18/1
- #5 Seed:33/1
Best Bet: #1 Seed (3/5)
The price is not exciting but let’s not get cute here. The four best teams are seeded #1, the ACC was the best conference this season and they have three squads on the top line.
If you really like the Big Ten or the SEC teams, the two seeds are not ridiculous, but the chances at least a couple one’s will be in Minneapolis are strong and we’ll take our chances with the cream of the crop.
How many points will the NCAA’s biggest stars score?
- Zion Williamson (Duke): over/under 101 points
- Killian Tillie (Gonzaga): over/under 35 points
- Nick Ward (Michigan State): over/under 52 points
- Reid Travis (Kentucky): over/under 40 points
- Charles Matthews (Michigan): over/under 42 points
Best Bet: Reid Travis under 40 points
The bottom line is that Kentucky has a fairly difficult road. Unlike North Carolina at the top of their bracket, the Wildcats will get tested before the Elite 8. Travis is just coming back from injury and has never been the focal point of UK’s offense.
They may need to go to the Final 4 for Travis to exceed 40 points, since he averages about 11 a game, and the path to get their is challenging.
How many #1 seeds will reach the Final Four?
- None: 9/1
- One: 17/3
- Two: 9/11
- Three: 17/3
- Four: 19/1
Best Bet: Three #1 seeds reach Final Four
The one seeds are the best group, and there is a significant drop after the ones and twos.
Two teams is the expected number, but this is a year where futures odds indicate the number of squads who can win it all is fairly limited. Getting almost 6/1 is a good value, particularly since that puts the big boys on your side, with one expected slip up fairly likely.
How many #9-16 seeds will make it past the first round?
- Over 7.5 (-110)
- Under 7.5 (-110)
Best Bet: Over 7.5 (-110)
If you believe that 8 vs 9 and 7 vs 10 games are toss ups, that should get you four victories. One would think you’d get at least two wins out of the 11s and 12s, particularly since the point spreads are small.
In fact, the expectation should really be three 11s or 12s win. Then you just need one or two 13s or higher to prosper. The number is too low. This is a strong over play.
Odds on worse seeds winning at least one tournament game
- #12 seed wins a game: 3/7
- #13 seed wins a game: 4/1
- #14 seed wins a game: 7/1
- #15 seed wins a game: 25/1
- #16 seed wins a game: 40/1
Best Bet: #14 seed wins a game (7/1)
A 12-seed will probably win a game, but the odds suggest it needs to be over a 70-chance to make it a good wager. Since we think the one and two seeds are very strong, it is hard to go for the 15s or 16s.
That leaves the 13’s and 14’s to consider. Among that group, our two favorite possible upsets are UC Irvine as a #13 over Kansas State, and Yale as a #14 over LSU, which is very talented but embroiled in the FBI scandal and has their coach suspended.
Because the odds are better on the 14s, and Georgia State and ODU are not without hope, let’s take the 7/1 and root for the sizable upset.
Most points for a single player in the Round of 64
- Over 35 points (-110)
- Under 35 points (-110)
Best Bet: Over 35
No player in the tournament averages more than Marquette’s Markus Howard (25 points a game). Many top seeds will win easily and rest starters towards the end of their games.
However, Howard and Murray State’s Ja Morant (24.6 ppg) are two of many players who ought to be in tight contests.
With 32 first round games, even if 10 are blowouts with players resting, there is a lot of volume for somebody to have a huge contest.
Most points for a single team in the Round of 64:
- Over 105 points (-110)
- Under 105 points (-110)
Best Bet: Over 105 (-110)
Again, this is a volume play. We wouldn’t bet on any individual team to hit 100, but there will be blowouts because of major mismatches and somebody will run up the score or simply have backups that a 15 or 16-seed can’t stop.
Biggest margin of victory in Round of 64
- Over 42.5 points (-110)
- Under 42.5 points (-110)
Best Bet: *Under 42.5 (-110)
From a volume standpoint there are a lot of opportunities for a ridiculous win. On the flip side, the number is enormous. We put an asterisk on this wager. If Prairie View A&M wins their play-in-game, they play a pressing full court style, and Gonzaga should be able to break the press and lay the ball in consistently. We’d still like the under, but feel less confident about it if the Panthers advance.
Total buzzer beaters in Round of 64
- Over 0.5: (+110)
- Under 0.5 (-130)
Best Bet: Under 0.5 (-130)
The definition of a buzzer beater is with no time left. No resetting the clock to 0.3 after reviewing the video monitor. In order to win this bet on the over you need a true game-ender at the wire. It is more likely to have zero.
Total overtime games in Round of 64
- Over 2.0 (-110)
- Under 2.0 (-110)
Best Bet: Over 2.0
This is not a particularly strong play. About six percent of games go to overtime, and that would suggest 1.92 out of 32 games need an extra session. While the one and two seeds are not likely to play close games, there are more evenly matched contests within the bracket than in normal everyday play, particularly out of conference.
Teams tend to get conservative in March and play lower-scoring tight games. That leads to overtime.
Odds to win Most Outstanding Player Award
- Zion Williamson (Duke): 6/1
- Kyle Guy (Virginia): 15/1
- Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga): 15/1
- Cameron Johnson (North Carolina): 15/1
- Cassius Winston (Michigan State): 20/1
- Grant Williams (Tennessee): 20/1
Best Bet: Zion Williamson (6/1)
This is less about Williamson and Duke and more about the other candidates. If Virginia wins it all, Guy, De’Andre Hunter or Ty Jerome could all win the hardware.
Duke is the betting favorite and, while RJ Barrett is terrific, we saw that the Blue Devils probably aren’t good enough to capture a championship without Williamson. The way he plays, the highlights he creates, if Duke wins, he is likely to be MOP.