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As March Madness 2024 tips off, the frenzy of college basketball’s most electrifying tournament brings with it the excitement of unpredictability and the thrill of potential upsets.

For bettors and fans alike, understanding historical trends and patterns can be the key to making informed decisions. SmartEdge Picks, leveraging its expertise in sports betting analytics, offers a deep dive into the tournament’s history and what to look out for in this year’s First Four frenzy.

Historical Overview: Favorites vs. Underdogs

Analyzing the outcomes of 66 games, a pattern emerges: favorites have clinched victories in 44 games, translating to a win rate of 66.7%, with one game being too close to call with a pick’em spread.

However, when considering the point spread, the picture becomes slightly murkier. Favorites have a barely over-the-break-even point spread record of 33-32-1 (50.8%), highlighting the competitive nature of the tournament matchups.

A year-over-year comparison sheds light on consistency and slight improvement in performance against the spread (ATS), with the 2024 season mirroring the 44 wins of the 2022 season but showcasing a modest three-win improvement ATS compared to the previous year.

First Four Focus: A Closer Look at the Trends

As we zero in on the First Four games, a historical analysis reveals some intriguing insights:

  • Underdog Dominance: Over the last 11 tournaments, underdogs have proven their worth in the First Four, boasting a 55.8% edge ATS with a 24-19 record. This trend suggests that backing lower-seeded teams could be a rewarding strategy for those looking to embrace the underdog narrative.
  • The Rarity of Blowouts: Contrary to what one might expect, blowouts are rare in the First Four, with only eight games since 2001 featuring a point spread of 5 or more. In these matchups, favorites have largely prevailed, securing wins in 7 out of 8 games and covering the spread in 6 out of 8 instances.
  • Navigating Tighter Contests: When the point spread narrows to less than 5 points, the certainty diminishes. Favorites win outright in such scenarios with a 26-22 record but struggle ATS, posting a 19-28-1 record. This suggests that while picking the outright winner might seem safer, covering the spread presents a challenge.
  • The Outright Winner Strategy: Interestingly, teams that win the game have historically covered the spread 92.1% of the time since 2013, emphasizing the potential value in focusing on picking winners directly.
  • The Defense Factor: First Four games often trend towards lower scoring, particularly in matchups featuring seeds 12 or better, leaning towards the Under (total points scored) at a 68.2% rate.

Embracing the Madness

As March Madness unfolds, remember these insights are based on historical trends, and the tournament’s inherent unpredictability is what makes it so captivating.

Whether you’re a seasoned bettor or a casual fan, the magic of March Madness lies in its ability to surprise, delight, and, occasionally, defy the odds.

So, as you prepare your picks and brace for the tournament, let SmartEdge Picks guide you through the highs and lows of what promises to be another exhilarating journey through the heart of college basketball’s greatest spectacle.