Vegas Odds: Considering the NCAA Tournament Regions

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2013


The Madness is just around the corner and through nearly 48 hours post-reveal of the bracket, there’s been no shortage of number-crunching, analysis, and commentary about what is going to happen over the next three weeks. Betting markets are often a good benchmark indicator in terms of the overall public perception of the quality of teams, so every year we always like to make it a point to review what Las Vegas thinks about each region — each region’s odds have been normalized to 100% to show a truer snapshot of each team’s odds. This year, we’ve also added another couple of columns showing what the advance metrics of KenPom and HSAC have to say — there are some notable differences among some of these teams, so that’s certainly worth tracking as well.  (note: all Vegas odds were derived on Tuesday afternoon from The Greek.)

We’ll provide each region’s snapshot view below, followed by some light commentary, starting with the East Region…

east region ncaa odds

No surprise that Tom Crean’s top-seeded Hoosiers are the favorite here, with #2 Miami (FL) and #4 Syracuse to follow. #3 Marquette is not a Vegas favorite, but they’re clearly valued more highly by the advanced metrics of HSAC and KenPom. By the same token, #6 Butler, with its recent Final Four history in tow, is given a much better chance among the oddsmakers than the metrics guys. With a separation between the top seven teams and the rest of the field, the East Region feels a bit more open in the middle, but don’t forget that #1 Indiana is the biggest favorite in both Vegas and KenPom of any of the four regions.

south region ncaa odds

The South Region has six teams breaking the five percent threshold in Vegas, but all three views show really only four teams in this race. The advanced metrics folks really like #3 Florida, which makes sense as they’ve been very high in efficiency statistics all season. Vegas agrees, but not quite as much, giving the Gators a slightly-better-than-quarter chance of winning this region, while #1 Kansas, #2 Georgetown and #4 Michigan are all relatively good picks as well. Public perception of #8 North Carolina is quite a bit higher than what the metrics suggest, but that’s really the only other team where such a disparity exists.

mw region ncaa odds

The Midwest Region is really top-heavy in Vegas, with only four teams given a four percent chance or better to win this bracket. HSAC gives slightly better odds to #5 Oklahoma State and #7 Creighton, but KenPom essentially sees three teams — with #1 Louisville nearly at the coin-flip level — running away with the odds. #2 Duke‘s public perception is perhaps a tad higher than it’s metrics show (the “Coach K Effect?”), while #3 Michigan State is sitting idly by waiting for everyone to write them off in this region. At least in Vegas odds, the Cards and Hoosiers are the biggest “locks” at this point in the NCAA Tournament (each has a one in three chance).

west region ncaa odds

Moving out to the West Region, six teams are given a better than five percent shot here, with the top three of #1 Gonzaga, #2 Ohio State, and #3 New Mexico comprising the most clustered group of favorites among the four regions (between 17%-23%). One big disparity to note is that the Lobos rank a distant fifth in KenPom’s metrics, while still a solid third in HSAC’s and certainly fairly high in the Vegas odds. A couple of teams that nobody seems to be talking about are #5 Wisconsin and #8 Pittsburgh — both are given reasonable odds to win this region in all three columns and could be dark horses if this thing blows completely up.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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2 responses to “Vegas Odds: Considering the NCAA Tournament Regions”

  1. Adam says:

    Am I crazy, or can Arizona go on a run? Past few years Belmont has been a trendy upset pick and they lost both by double digits. New Mexico would be tough in second round, but I can see Arizona winning that. Then, everyone is on Ohio State’s jockstrap (playing real well, granted) – but who knows?

  2. rtmsf says:

    Not crazy, Adam. I’m looking at the Wildcats very closely as well. I liked them a lot at the midpoint, but Sean Miller has proven to be a great tournament coach and if they get to LA, they’re going to have a home-like advantage.

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