It Doesn't Have to be the "Bitter 16"

By Scotty P – AlgaLytics Analyst

While the final 16 of the NCAA Tournament is widely referred to as the Sweet 16, for many bettors and bracket-contest players it more appropriately could be tagged the Bitter 16.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Plug your ears. Turn off the noise coming from the “experts” who use more than numbers and incorporate their personal biases when spewing their opinions. Don’t be swayed by the public, either.

This time of year, everyone becomes a college basketball fan, but very few if any of those fans are experts. Many of those placing March Madness bets have only watched a handful of games during the season, and most of those games have included mainly highly ranked or Power 5 programs. They are using a combination of the few teams they have watched this season, brand-name recognition, past NCAA Tournament history, public trends and “expert” opinion to make their betting decisions.

None of those things is particularly relevant to what will happen on the court this weekend. What does that mean?

It’s a vicious cycle that works almost like peer pressure. Public sentiment that often is fueled by bad or irrelevant information compounds itself as more and more novices pile on and go with the flow. Lines are inflated, and sharp or professional bettors who do use unbiased numbers and inside information to set their lines and make their bets, are just waiting to jump on those skewed number.

Do yourself a favor. If you’re looking for an expert, find someone who has watched and actually bet (with verifiable proof) hundreds of games and followed the sport daily, including all the scores, stats and trends, throughout the season. This person should rely on combination of unbiased analytical data, betting market insights and a deep knowledge of the sport when providing his or her analysis and picks.

Develop your own system of statistical analysis and track it over time, making necessary tweaks, until it has become a reliable predictive tool. Right now, though, you don’t have time to verify a new system, so find someone like AlgaVision, a group that has provided unbiased, algorithm-based selections that have been successful throughout the 2020-21 season – and dating all the way back to 2017 – at well over a 60-percent rate.

Because AlgaVision provides selections strictly based on statistical analysis, with no human involvement and a strict set of rules regarding which picks should be provided to its customers, you can feel confident in using their data and advice when making your bets. If you stay disciplined and do exactly as they say, over time you will win at nearly a 65 percent rate and enjoy a very nice ROI.

If you prefer to be more involved and want to do extensive research to come up with your own system and be more comfortable with your wagers, you can take it to another level and compare the information you get from AlgaVision with other predictive models available such as KenPom and Sagarin as well as market indicators such as line movement and sharp or “professional” betting trends to determine which bets are most likely to cash out.

When it comes to betting, no one asks how you did it; they ask how much did you win? As Brent Musberger says, “Cashing tickets is what it’s all about.” Whether you turn solely to an unbiased predictive model such as AlgaVision and trust them when making your bets or use a combination of their info with other trusted, but unbiased data, doesn’t matter.

A win is a win, no matter how you slice it. My advice to you, however, is to fade the public noise and tune out the loudmouth “experts” who only tell you about their wins and have no substance behind what they are saying.

Here are some things to consider when looking at this year’s Sweet 16:

  • Loyola clearly was under-seeded in this tournament. KenPom had the Ramblers as a top-10 team, and they were likely worthy of a No. 4 or 5 seed. They have been underdogs throughout the tourney, but suddenly they are a 7-point favorite against one of the hottest teams in the country – a team that has a 7-1 center who can body up to Loyola’s dominant big man and a team that has covered the spread in 12 of its last 13 games. Loyola, which has covered in its last five outings, has earned the right to be favored, but to go from a consistent underdog to a seven-point favorite in the national championship tournament in the round of 16 seems a bit inflated. The numbers I’ve seen have this as between a 6.3 and 7-point game. AlgaVision likely has Oregon State as a decent play against the spread, but more likely would prefer the favorites as part of a money-line parlay. We’ll have to wait and see. Sharps seem to see -7 as the key number in this one as well.

  • Baylor likely was undervalued when it was listed as a 6-point favorite against a Villanova team missing its best player. Nova is a great example of a team that the public faded because it listened to a bunch of talking heads who said the Wildcats couldn’t win without their top guy in the lineup. At this time of year, you simply can’t discount teams that have battle-tested, proven national-championship-caliber coaches who bring in deep recruiting classes on a yearly basis. That’s who Jay Wright is and what he does. Villanova has had an easier path to the Sweet 16 than expected, but the Wildcats have proven the “experts” wrong so far and now some of them are questioning their initial take on the team. Those same “experts” also have been down on a Baylor team that suffered through multiple COVID-related shutdowns this season and never seemed to hit its stride late in the year. On paper, there is little doubt that Baylor and Gonzaga are the teams most likely to advance to the Final Four. But recency bias and popular opinion can sway things in the world of sports betting. All of the sudden, Villanova is good again and maybe Baylor isn’t quite hitting on all cylinders. The line opens at -6 and the pro bettors have hammered it all the way up to 7.5 – and it may not stop there. Meanwhile, the public is buying in on the “Villanova is good again” narrative. Baylor appeared to be a very strong play at -6, but if it gets all the way to -8, an inflated line against a well-coached and talented team might be enough to sway the AlgaVision numbers back toward the Wildcats. If you bet Baylor now, you’re getting the worst of the number. Don’t rush this one. Let it play out and see where the number lands. The public has been all over the Wildcats, while the smart money has gone the other way so far. My bet is that if it gets to -8, the pros will hit Villanova hard. Maybe AlgaVision will feel the same way?

  • Oral Roberts has become the darling Cinderella story of the tournament. One thing to consider is that ORU’s top-two players are as likely as good as almost any of the other remaining teams’ top duos except possibly Gonzaga. That’s unusual for a “Cinderella,” but alas basketball is not a two-man sport. What if one of them gets into foul trouble playing against a balanced, fast and athletic Arkansas team that likes to push the pace? What if the 3-point shots aren’t going in against a team that wants to increase the number of possessions as much as possible? The high opening total in this game indicates that a lot of points, hence a lot of possessions, are expected. Things don’t always work out well for teams that play a high-tempo style against a like-minded team that is deeper and more talented. Oral Roberts was seeded too low, but even if they were really a 12 or 13 seed, pulling off three big upset wins on this type of stage is a tall task. The number opened at -11 and moved to -12 before settling back on -11.5. These two teams played at Arkansas, with the Hogs winning by 11 back in December. The public LOVES the Cinderella story and sees a big number. Analytics have the number at closer to -14. There are mixed signals on the surface so far in terms of public vs. sharp money, and the line has settled down after moving initially toward Arkansas. Seems like maybe a game to avoid as most of the “experts” seem to like ORU to cover, while the smart bettors aren’t so sure and the unbiased numbers point to the Razorbacks.

  • Syracuse may have been lucky not to be in a play-in game based on its resume, but again questioning a Hall-of-Fame coach who has made many deep tournament runs and won a national title – and whose team was playing very well down the stretch of the regular season – doesn’t seem smart. No. 2-seed Houston opened as a -6.5 favorite, and that’s where the line is right now. Houston is getting the majority of bets, while Syracuse is getting more money. Clearly that’s not sharp money, though, or the line would be moving toward the Orange. It’s still juiced at -110. No help there. Available analytics have Houston as likely to win by between 5.3 and 8 points, with the majority having the Cougars winning by between 6.9 and 8. If the money percentage is larger than the bet percentage by a pretty substantial amount but the line is staying the same, whatever sharp money is coming in probably favors Houston at -6.5. My personal research tells me that if you can get the Cougars at -6 or are willing to pay the tax and bet the number down, they are probably a good bet. That also indicates it might be a great money-line parlay in combo with a team such as Baylor. Keep an eye on this one for late line movement, where the late pro money goes and if AlgaVision has a strong opinion.

If you don’t have time to do your own research and want to take the guesswork out, we’re here to help. You can use the analysis we provide here in combination with the information AlgaLytics provides to feel very good about how you are risking your money.

Consider becoming an AlgaVision client, and you’ll get this type of information and much more on a daily basis!

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