If you have to bet tourney futures, here's what you should be thinking

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN.com) 

March 18, 2019 12:15 AM

Now that point spreads in the NCAA Tournament have had time to settle, you’ve started thinking about futures prices. Odds to win the national championship. Maybe also odds to win each regional.

VSiN has talked a lot in recent months about why you should avoid betting futures. No need to rehash all of that again. In short, for any first time readers, futures usually don’t pay off at true odds, and typically pay off at worse odds (sometimes dramatically worse) than just re-investing in your chosen team on the money line round-by-round through the postseason.

For college basketball, re-investing four times in a row to win a regional, or six times in a row to win the national championship is almost certain to out-profit any futures price.  

Many of you are going to bet futures anyway. We understand. Betting is FUN. With that in mind, we want to focus on a mental error too many of you will make when examining odds. You’ll rule out too many possible longshots, which causes you to overrate the chances that favorites will rule the day. 

While it’s true that it’s extremely difficult for longshots to win six games in a row (or seven for play-in teams) to cut down the nets and star in “One Shining Moment,” winning four (or five) in a row to capture a regional is achievable.

Look at all of these teams seeded #7 or worse in their region that have reached the Final Four since 2013…

2013: #9 Wichita State

2014: #7 Connecticut, #8 Kentucky

2015: #7 Michigan State

2016: #10 Syracuse

2017: #7 South Carolina

2018: #11 Loyola-Chicago

That’s at least one every year, SIX years in a row!

And, with every single one of those examples…on the Monday before the action began…you’d have heard the vast majority of “experts” saying “some good players on that team, but there’s NO WAY they’re going to reach the Final Four.” 

This is important for futures bettors trying to visualize percentage chances for each team to win their region. This isn’t a scenario where the #1 seed wins its section 60% of the time, the #2 seed 30% of the time, the #3 and #4 seeds gobble up the other 10%. 

You can probably rule out teams #13-16. Everyone else has at least “a chance” to make it. Some teams you were giving 0% are probably in the 1-5% range each. Talented “live floaters” who were mis-seeded are probably even higher. The past six seasons, 29% of regionals were won by teams seeded #7 or worse. 

Casual bettors instinctively look for ways to bet highly ranked programs. Doing so game-to-game can seem scary because the point spreads are too high until later rounds. It’s easy to make the mistake of assuming that betting futures is a better way to go. 

Probabilities are messy. Shooting variance can shock a super-team (they’re cold for a game, or an opponent can’t miss). An off-the-radar surprise is more likely than you realize.

VSiN looks forward to previewing Dance action through the week, starting with play-in games Tuesday and Wednesday. We hope you’ll join our subscription service online for all-day market coverage direct from the sports betting capital of the world.

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