Betting market shakes out after Selection Sunday

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

March 11, 2018 10:18 PM

The brackets are set, and the point spreads have settled. Let’s run the numbers for the 2018 NCAA Tournament right now in VSiN City.

Market Watch: Early Point Spreads in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

We’ll monitor line movements throughout the week as the general public begins to arrive in Las Vegas to take part in the most exciting spectacle in sport betting. For now, let’s run the early point spreads and shore up our estimated “market” Power Ratings based on settled prices. 

Before we go region by region, let’s look at the play-in games set for Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Tuesday’s Play-in Games

Radford (16) vs. LIU-Brooklyn (16): Radford -4

UCLA (11) vs. St. Bonaventure (11): UCLA -3

You can tell that the betting markets don’t see St. Bonaventure as tournament caliber. The Bonnies are a three-point dog to a bubble team! That’s after being a three-point dog to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 tournament this weekend…an even Davidson had to win to get in. In the opener, LIU Brooklyn looks to be Power-Rated as the second-worst team in the tournament. That winner gets Villanova. The survivor of UCLA/St. Bonny faces hot and cold Florida…which offers a shot at an upset. 

Wednesday’s Play-in Games

Texas Southern (16) vs. NC Central (16): Texas Southern -5

Arizona State (11) vs. Syracuse (11): Arizona State -1

North Carolina Central is the worst team in the tournament based on that distant spread vs. another #16 seed. That winner faces Xavier, who is Power Rated lower than most #1 seeds historically. Many pundits had both ASU and Syracuse missing the tournament entirely, in favor of options like Notre Dame, USC, St. Mary’s, Louisville, Oklahoma State, or even Baylor. That Syracuse zone can give fits to opposing offenses who don’t prepare properly. 

The rest of the way, we’ll go region-by-region…


Villanova (1) vs. Radford/LIUB winner (16): No line yet

Virginia Tech (8) vs. Alabama (9): Virginia Tech -2

Wichita State (4) vs. Marshall (13): Wichita State -12

West Virginia (5) vs. Murray State (12): West Virginia -10

Purdue (2) vs. Cal-Fullerton (15): Purdue -20.5

Arkansas (7) vs. Butler (10): Butler -1

Texas Tech (3) vs. SF Austin (14): Texas Tech -11.5

Florida (6) vs. UCLA/St. Bonny winner (11): No line yet

East Estimated “market” Power Ratings: Villanova 87, Purdue 86, West Virginia 84, Wichita State 83, Texas Tech 82, Florida 82, Virginia Tech 79, Butler 79, Arkansas 78, UCLA 78, Alabama 77, St. Bonaventure 75, Murray State 74, Marshall 71, SF Austin 70, Cal-Fullerton 65, Radford 64, LIU-Brooklyn 60

Feels like a soft region. As we’ve discussed in recent weeks…Villanova has been playing a bunch of recent nailbiters against teams in the high 70s…Purdue has been horrible vs. market expectations for weeks…West Virginia turns mortal against anyone with smart guards…Wichita State continues to underachieve vs. quality, Texas Tech is solid, but not dynamic…Florida blows hot and cold…well, we’re pretty far down already. Potentially wide open if Villanova continues to stumble against opponents who don’t blink. 


Virginia (1) vs. Maryland-Balt County (16): Virginia -22.5

Creighton (8) vs. Kansas State (9): Creighton -1.5

Arizona (4) vs. Buffalo (13): Arizona -9

Kentucky (5) vs. Davidson (12): Kentucky -6

Cincinnati (2) vs. Georgia State (15): Cincinnati -14

Nevada (7) vs. Texas (10): pick-em

Tennessee (3) vs. Wright State (14): Tennessee -13

Miami (6) vs. Loyola-Chicago (11): Miami -2.5

South Estimated “market” Power Ratings: Virginia 87, Cincinnati 84, Kentucky 84, Arizona 83, Tennessee 82, Creighton 79, Kansas State 78, Davidson 78, Nevada 78, Texas 78, Miami 77, Loyola-Chicago 75, Buffalo 74, Georgia State 70, Wright State 69, Maryland-Balt County 64

Real danger in this region…Virginia just won the ACC tournament, Cincinnati the American Athletic, Kentucky the SEC, Arizona the Pac 12, and Davidson the A10. Hot teams that caught the market napping. Bet Virginia wishes it could flop brackets with Villanova. Brutal that Kentucky and Arizona would have to meet in the Round of 32 for the right to face Virginia in the Sweet 16. Cincinnati’s in the easier half. 


Kansas (1) vs. Pennsylvania (16): Kansas -15

Seton Hall (8) vs. NC State (9): Seton Hall -2

Auburn (4) vs. College of Charleston (13): Auburn -10.5

Clemson (5) vs. New Mexico State (12): Clemson -5.5

Duke (2) vs. Iona (15): Duke -20

Rhode Island (7) vs. Oklahoma (10): Rhode Island -1.5

Michigan State (3) vs. Bucknell (14): Michigan State -14

TCU (6) vs. Arizona State/Syracuse winner (11): No line yet

Midwest Estimated “market” Power Ratings: Duke 87, Kansas 86, Michigan State 86, Auburn 82, TCU 81, Rhode Island 80, Clemson 79, Oklahoma 79, Seton Hall 78, Arizona State 77, Syracuse 76, NC State 76, New Mexico State 74, Bucknell 72, College of Charleston 72, Pennsylvania 71, Iona 67. 

Not sure what spark of insanity led the committee to give Penn a #16 seed. Are they trying to set up a #16 shocking a #1 just so people will stop talking about how it’s never happened? Penn had a profile more in line with a #13 seed the way things worked out. A nice “big three” here of Kansas, Duke, and Michigan State. But, it feels pretty soft below that given how Auburn and Rhode Island finished (and you can throw in OU, and Arizona State there as well). Well, Michigan State closed in shaky form as well. Very friendly brackets for Duke if Sparty peaked too early. 


Xavier (1) vs. Tex-Southern/NCC winner (16): No line yet

Missouri (8) vs. Florida State (9): Missouri -1

Gonzaga (4) vs. NC-Greensboro (13): Gonzaga -12

Ohio State (5) vs. South Dakota State (12): Ohio State -8

North Carolina (2) vs. Lipscomb (15): North Carolina -19

Texas A&M (7) vs. Providence (10): Texas A&M -3.5

Michigan (3) vs. Montana (14): Michigan -11.5

Houston (6) vs. San Diego State (11): Houston -4

West Estimated “market” Power Ratings: Xavier 83, Gonzaga 83, North Carolina 83, Ohio State 82, Michigan 82, Houston 80, Missouri 79, Texas A&M 79, Florida State 78, Providence 76, San Diego State 76, South Dakota State 74, Montana 71, NC-Greensboro 71, Lipscomb 64, Texas Southern 61, North Carolina Central 57

Wow…Xavier is the softest of the #1 seeds based on market pricing of the past several weeks. But, this is loaded just below them…with Gonzaga and Michigan possibly being a bucket better than those rankings at the moment, and North Carolina and Houston having strong “runner-up” weekends vs. top competition. Wide open at the top, with some intriguing floaters if any of the favorites get caught looking ahead. 

We hope you enjoyed Sunday’s live coverage of Dance festivities on VSiN. Brent Musburger hosted live from the studio (best of luck Derek Stevens!). We chipped in on twitter with point spread estimates as the brackets were first announced (solid with the “known” teams in the major conferences, less so with the auto-bids from the worst conferences). Big stuff still ahead this week. 

*Our March Madness digital guide will be available Tuesday

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And, of course, wall-to-wall coverage throughout our broadcast schedule beginning bright and early Monday morning with Mitch and Pauly on “Follow the Money,” followed by the analytics perspective with Gill Alexander on “A Numbers Game.” 

We appreciate all of you who studied the conference tournament boxscores with us all through last week. Wouldn’t feel right to leave that hanging. Let’s quickly recap the three Sunday championship games that featured ranked teams.

Sunday Championship Recap: Here’s how Davidson, Kentucky, and Cincinnati cut down the nets

Atlantic 10: Davidson (plus 2) 58, #25 Rhode Island 57 

Two-point Pct: Davidson 41%, Rhode Island 41% 

Three Pointers: Davidson 6/18, Rhode Island 8/23

Free Throws: Davidson 14/16, Rhode Island 9/17

Rebounds: Davidson 32, Rhode Island 37

Turnovers: Davidson 12, Rhode Island 14

Estimated Possessions: Davidson 64, Rhode Island 64

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Davidson 43-53-34, Rhode Island 48-45-31

Nailbiter put Davidson into the Dance, and knocked Notre Dame out according to the selection committee. Tie-breaker looks to be those five extra made free throws and two fewer turnovers. Davidson was definitely playing like a Dance-caliber team in recent weeks…and was priced as superior to St. Bonaventure in all three meetings once you adjust for home court. St. Bonny snuck into a play-in game, while Davidson draws Kentucky. Rhode Island gets a lucky draw with Oklahoma in the first round, before a shot at Duke over the weekend (if both advance). (A reminder that our formula to estimate possessions is Shots…minus offensive rebounds…plus one-half free throw attempts…plus turnovers.)

SEC: Kentucky (plus 1.5) 77, #13 Tennessee 72

Two-point Pct: Kentucky 53%, Tennessee 37% 

Three Pointers: Kentucky 7/16, Tennessee 10/27

Free Throws: Kentucky 20/24, Tennessee 16/20

Rebounds: Kentucky 32, Tennessee 34

Turnovers: Kentucky 10, Tennessee 10

Estimated Possessions: Kentucky 61, Tennessee 64

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Kentucky 19-14-23, Tennessee 11-17-15

The betting market kept flipping favorites in the hours before tip-off. Kentucky continued to play fantastic inside defense, which ultimately pushed them over the top. Took much longer than usual for a Calipari-coached team to defend like this. Great timing! Kentucky is suddenly dangerous after being a disappointment much of the season. Looking forward to seeing if the SEC is a sleeper as a conference…or if its success in the SEC-Big 12 challenge was just a sign that the Big 12 was overrated. 

American Athletic: #8 Cincinnati (-4.5) 56, #21 Houston 55

Two-point Pct: Houston 38%, Cincinnati 50% 

Three Pointers: Houston 7/23, Cincinnati 4/14

Free Throws: Houston 10/12, Cincinnati 12/19

Rebounds: Houston 29, Cincinnati 33

Turnovers: Houston 12, Rhode Island 13

Estimated Possessions: Houston 64, Cincinnati 60

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Houston 17-20-17, Cincinnati 4-7-5

This was basically the weekend that “America discovered Houston” as a real force. CBS not having the Big 10 tournament like in the old days freed up great TV windows for the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati showed it deserved a #2 seed. Houston showed that it has Sweet 16 talent that’s going to scare everyone as long as it’s not worn down from this huge weekend. Though, horrible luck that Houston has to get past San Diego State just to face Michigan in the second round, and North Carolina in the Sweet 16. 

NIT: Brackets announced Sunday night

Long after the dust had settled in the Dance brackets, the NIT made its pairings known. Here’s a quick look at the seedings. 


Notre Dame (1) vs. Hampton (8)

Penn State (4) vs. Temple (5)

Marquette (2) vs. Harvard (7)

Oregon (3) vs. Rider (6)

A friendly path for the Irish, who would be a big attraction in Madison Square Garden and on ESPN for the Final Four. Penn State may be the toughest threat based on recent results. 


Baylor (1) vs. Wagner (8)

Mississippi State (4) vs. Nebraska (5)

Louisville (2) vs. Northern Kentucky (7)

Middle Tennessee (3) vs. Vermont (6)

The Big 10 had been hoping Nebraska or Penn State could sneak into the Dance as the fifth league team. Instead, neither could even get home court in the NIT! Nebraska fans will take that more personally. The huskers can win on the road vs. this hunk of teams. Gotham would rather Louisville last to the Final Four than any other entry here. 


St. Mary’s (1) vs. SE Louisiana (8)

Boise State (4) vs. Washington (5)

Utah (2) vs. Cal Davis (7)

LSU (3) vs. Louisiana (6)

About as friendly an octet as you can hope for in this event. Somebody’s going to bring a West Coast TV audience to the Final Four unless LSU makes a run. 


USC (1) vs. North Carolina Asheville (8)

Western Kentucky (4) vs. Boston College (5)

Oklahoma State (2) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (7)

Stanford (3) vs. BYU (6)

According to our “market” Power Ratings, USC was the biggest snub from the Dance. Trojans may have been as high as a #6 seed if “Vegas” was setting the NCAA Brackets. USC is certainly as good as Rhode Island and Texas A&M on the 7-line. Anyway, Oklahoma State has a case to make too. Dick Vitale has been making sure everyone knows about that. That could be a great “sectional” final if form holds. 

No NIT lines posted yet as we closed up shop on deadline. We’ll squeeze in some NIT coverage when time and space allow this week. Expanded coverage will begin next week when the top contenders start to square off in later rounds. 

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