College Basketball Betting Guides

How To Find Value With March Madness Cinderellas That Can Go Deep Into The NCAA Tournament

Looking for those March Madness Cinderellas that can make a run in the NCAA Tournament? While many do so for the purposes of filling out a bracket, your better payday is finding one of these dogs and betting them throughout. After all, a surprise win in a few brackets might only net you a few points. Successfully betting the moneyline when an underdog delivers will pay out in spades right away.

If you’re looking for a team to back that is overlooked or underrated, here are some key trends to keep in mind.

How To Find Value With March Madness Cinderellas That Can Go Deep In The NCAA Tournament
How To Find March Madness Cinderellas

Team Has To Have A Strong Suit

If you’re looking for an underdog to make a run, look for a team that’s elite either offensively or defensively. A team seeded No. 7 or lower have made the Elite Eight in 10 of the last 11 NCAA Tournaments. From the entire pool, 17 of those 24 teams that made it ranked in the Top 30 in either Adjusted Offensive or Defensive Efficiency, according to

In the 2022 NCAA Tournament, No. 15 Saint Peter’s and No. 10 Miami made it to the Elite Eight. Miami was 19th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency while Saint Peter’s was 25th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. This looks to be a good tell.

If you’re looking for the March Madness Cinderellas that can make a run through multiple rounds, make sure they excel in one of the two major departments. 

Threes Are Key For March Madness Cinderellas

Taking a look at the same pool of teams, teams that fared well with three-point shooting also had a tendency to outperform expectations. Taking a look at the same 24 teams seeded No. 7 or lower to make the Elite Eight in the last 11 years, 17 of 24 had a three-point field goal percentage that was better than the national average. In 2022, No. 15 Saint Peter’s was not only strong defensively (as per the previous section), they shot 35.0% from three-point land.

When you’re circling a team to make a run and breakthrough, double-check how they do from beyond the arc as that might either reinforce your decision or lead you to shy away.

Coaching Leads The Way

Typically, when a team seeded No. 7 or lower makes a run, they seem to have a coach with a great track record in the NCAA Tournament already or have a bench boss that’s about to get hired away by another program.

If you take a look back to some of these lower seeds that made runs to the Elite Eight, some of the teams were led by the likes of Tom Izzo, Jim Calhoun and John Calipari. When you’re thinking of a Cinderella, you wouldn’t think of these guys being the ones in the carriage.

Coaches with experience in the tournament is a big plus when trying to find these longshot dogs to make a run. That’s especially the case when you’re thinking about coaches that have made it to the second weekend and beyond.

Battled Tested Throughout The Season

When looking for a team to make a run, you’ll want to bet on a squad that has been through the rigors of a tough schedule. Many times, we’ve seen a team from a small conference pile up the wins to pump up their record and it looks good on paper. Sure, they’ve run through a bunch of feeble foes but we don’t fully know their quality until they get pressed.

At the end of the day, strength of schedule speaks volumes. A quick shortcut is to check the college basketball rating metrics as they often tell the story. A team that has had to play through a tough conference or at least played some challenging non-conference games is less of a wildcard than a team that hasn’t. In the NCAA Tournament, teams will have to consistently get through the best 64 squads in the country. If they haven’t shown they can compete against them in the regular season, it’s tough to trust them to make it happen at the end of March.

Play The Percentages

We have enough data to work with when it comes to March Madness that we can start to extrapolate where the upsets really happen. While betting a No. 16 seed to go far is extremely unlikely, there are other areas where top seeds have proven to be quite vulnerable.

History shows us that a No. 2 and a No. 3 seed are likely to lose in the second round. A No. 7 or No. 10 advancing past their first matchup has upset a No. 2 seed 45 times in the last 37 years. The latest was the No. 10 Miami stunning No. 2 Auburn in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. No. 6 and No. 11 seeds have upset a No. 3 seed in the second round 48 times in 36 years. We’re looking at an average of just over 1.2 for each of these (a No. 2 and a No. 3 going down) each year.


No. 10 seed over No. 7 seed   57      39.5%

No. 11 seed over No. 6 seed   54      37.5%

No. 12 seed over No. 5 seed   51      35.4%

No. 13 seed over No. 4 seed   31      21.5%

No. 14 seed over No. 3 seed   22      15.3%

No. 15 seed over No. 2 seed   9        6.3%

No. 16 seed over No. 1 seed   1        0.7%

In terms of first-round upsets, No. 10’s upset No. 7’s at about 39% of the time while No. 11 seeds upend No. 6’s about 38% of the time. The famous 12-5 upset happens about 35.5% of the time. These are good moneylines to bet – especially if they are underdogs. Betting on No. 13, No. 14, No. 15 or No. 16 seeds to spring upsets is more of a crapshoot and the numbers suggest a huge drop-off in upset wins going from No. 12 to No. 13.

When betting on these lower seed upsets, crunch the numbers and cross-references the moneyline to see if it’s worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ways you can bet on the NCAA Tournament?

If you’re looking to bet on the NCAA Tournament, you can bet on individual games or the tournament overall. In terms of individual games, you can bet on which team will win or cover the spread for each individual matchup. There are also totals (over-unders) for each contest as well as player props, first half bets, first quarter bets and more. In terms of the overall tournament, you can bet on which team will win it all, which team(s) will make the Final Four, which conference will win more games in the NCAA Tournament. There are all sorts of options.

Can you place live bets on the NCAA Tournament?

Yes, every sportsbook will offer in-game betting for the NCAA Tournament. That means you’ll be able to bet on the games as the action happens from tip-off to final buzzer.

What are the betting limits for games on the NCAA Tournament? 

Each sportsbook will have different wagering limits for the NCAA Tournament. You’ll also find that the limits will vary on what you’re betting. If you’re betting on a moneyline or spread, the limits will be four or five figures in many cases. And beyond that, you can reach out to customer service if you want to place a larger wager. If you’re betting on something like player props, the limits could be much lower, around $500 or $1000, depending on the sportsbook.

Do all sportsbooks have the same odds for the NCAA Tournament?

While the sportsbooks in the market will all have similar odds, they’ll rarely be identical. For example, the same team might be -300 at DraftKings, -310 at MGM and -325 at Caesars. That means it is the better financial decision for you to place your bet at DraftKings. The same goes for most odds across the board as they’ll be close but not 100% identical. Make sure you have accounts at multiple sportsbooks, so that you can always shop for and get the best price.

Outlier Team
April 3, 2023
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