The NCAA tournament is all about the bracket, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other interesting ways to frustrate yourself and lose money. For The Win looks at the nine most interesting prop bets for the upcoming tourney. (All odds courtesy Bovada and current as of Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET.)
1. Will a No. 16 seed defeat a No. 1 seed? (6/1)
2. Will all No. 1 seeds make the Final Four? (50/1)
The thing that’s never happened is 6/1 while the thing that happened five years ago is 50/1? Granted, it’s only a matter of time before a No. 16 beats a No. 1. (Don’t be stunned if it happens this week. This is the first tournament in years where there isn’t considerable buzz over the 16/1 potential. The surprise factor will be the key to one of these upsets.) And 16 dominoes have to fall to get all No. 1s to a Final Four, whereas the upset is a “lightning in a bottle” thing. Factor in the fact that wagering on a first-round stunner is far more fun than praying for chalk and that probably explains the odd odds gap.
3. Will a Canadian born player win Most Outstanding Player? (10/1)
Unless Alex Trebek or Bryan Adams have any remaining eligibility, we’ll assume Bovada is talking about Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Nik Stauskas (Michigan), Melvin Ejim (Iowa State) or Tyler Ennis (Syracuse). Four players on four teams no one is picking to win and the odds are still short at 10/1? No thanks.
There are actually 27 Canadians playing in the tournament this year, but since none of them are on Michigan State, there’s no use thinking any will win MOP, right ESPN?
4. Number of No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four: Over/under 1.5
In the past four years, playing the under would have won. In the three years before that, the over hit. The lesson: Only wager on sure things, like the citizenship of MOP winners.
5. Most points scored during by one team during round of 64 games: Over/under 95.5
Ohio State scored 95 as a No. 2 seed in 2013. The next highest point total for the awfully named “second-round” games was VCU’s 88. Only six teams scored more than 80 points.
6. Highest margin of victory during round of 64 games: Over/under 32.5
Here’s one way to keep NCAA tournament blowouts interesting. You won’t know the true depths of being a degenerate until you spend a Thursday afternoon cursing Rick Pitino for playing walk-ons in the final two minutes of a blowout because it might cause Louisville’s winning margin to dip below 33. For those who can’t resist the rush, take note: In 2013, Syracuse won by 47 and VCU won by 46 but no other team won its second-round game by more than 32.
7. How many game-winning buzzer beaters will there be during the round of 64?
Zero buzzer beaters (5/7); 1 buzzer beater (2/1); 2 buzzer beaters (6/1); 3 buzzer beaters (10/1); come on, there’s not going to be more than three.
The Internet so rarely fails you that it’s downright devastating when you Google: “NCAA tournament buzzer beaters history” and can’t find a comprehensive list on Wikipedia or any of the dozens of great college basketball sites that exist. Anyway, buzzer beaters aren’t nearly as common in the 32 second-round games as television highlight reels would like you to believe. There’s a reason Bryce Drew’s 16-year-old shot is still played incessantly every March.
8. Which conference will the winning team come from?
Big Ten (7/2)
Big East (6/1)
Pac 12 (6/1)
Big 12 (7/1)
The biggest takeaway is that despite having the most teams in the field, the Big 12 has the longest odds of any power conference. And that if the AAC’s goal was to get people to confuse it with the ACC when both are listed near each other, well played, American Athletic Conference.
9. What seed will the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion be?
Despite the ongoing love-fest for all things fourth-seeded, the group including Michigan State and Louisville is “only” 2/1 to win the title. That’s a little steeper than the 3/2 odds given to the No. 1 seeds. The rest of the odds are just like you’d expect. Interestingly, seeds Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are listed at 25/1, while seeds Nos. 8 and 9 are 20/1. Lots of people betting the farm on George Washington then?
68 MARCH MADNESS FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW
To many, the opening weekend of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship is the greatest weekend on the sports calendar. To prepare you for the glory that is the NCAA tournament, here are 68 random facts and stats you need to know before all the madness begins. Why 68? Well there are 68 teams that make it into the “Big Dance” so…
1. No. 1 seeds have won six of the past seven championships and 11 of the past 15.
2. The No. 5 seed is the highest seed to never win the national title.
3. The lowest seed to reach the Final Four is a No. 11 (LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011).
4. No. 16 seeds are winless against no. 1 seeds (DUH)
5. Your chances of scoring a perfect bracket? 1 in over 18 quintillion. Warren Buffet can rest easy.
6. No team has won the national championship after losing its first game in the conference tournament.
7. Since 1979, the year seeding began, only once has the Final Four been comprised of all No. 1 seeds (2008).
8. Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self has taken three different schools to the Elite Eight.
9. Joakim Noah and Anthony Davis each hold the record for most blocked shots in a NCAA championship game with six.
10. Just two times in the past 36 years has the last team to lose a regular season game gone on to win the title (2006 Florida, 1999 Connecticut).
11. Florida’s Billy Donovan is just one of 13 coaches with multiple NCAA titles.
12. Michigan’s Glen Rice scored 184 points and drained 27 three pointers in six games, but only made seven free throws the entire tournament.
13. Jim Boeheim may have a national championship under his belt, but he was also the golf coach at Syracuse in the 1970s.
14. “One Shining Moment” first closed the television coverage of the NCAA tournament in 1987.
15. 32 teams will have punched their ticket to the “Big Dance” as a result of winning their respective conference tournaments or outright regular-season titles.
16. 36 teams will will be at-large picks from the NCAA selection committee.
17. Duke’s Mike Kryzewski enters the 2014 tournament with the most single game wins in tournament history with 82.
18. 2011 was the first year each tournament region featured a play-in game, expanding the total field to 68.
19. The field consisted of only eight teams when the tournament began in 1939.
20. Men are 2.5 times more likely than women to say they watch the men’s tournament. Whatever this means.
21. The only player to win three Final Four Most Outstanding Player Awards is UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
22. The NCAA tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
23. North Carolina has hosted more NCAA Tournament games than any other state.
24. Duke’s Christian Laettner is the only player to start in four Final Fours (89-90-91 and 92).
25. In 1989, two No.16 seeds came within a bucket of upsetting two No. 1 seeds. Princeton and East Tennessee State both lost to Georgetown and Oklahoma by just one point, respectively.
26. UCLA has appeared in the most NCAA Championship games with 12 appearances.
27. The tournament’s first triple-double was by Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson. The Big O scored 39 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out 10 assists.
28. The last team to repeat as NCAA champions were the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007.
29. UCLA’s John Wooden holds the records for the most national championships (10), Final Four appearances (12), and consecutive Final Four appearances (nine). Not too shabby.
30. One Shining Moment was originally composed as a tribute to the Larry Bird-led Indiana State Sycamores of 1979.
31. The Gus Johnson Soundboard is a real thing.
32. Lon Kruger of Oklahoma will become the first head coach to reach the tournament multiple times with five different schools. FIVE.
33. Memphis’ Josh Pastner may not have had much success in the tournament, but he does have a better career winning percentage than past national championship coaches Bill Self, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino.
34. Larry Brown’s SMU squad has 10 players that average at least 12 minutes per game. Something to consider if you’re determining winners based on conference championship fatigue.
35. Creighton’s Doug McDermott accounts for over 30% of his team’s points.
36. Duke’s Christian Laettner has scored more points than anyone in the history of the NCAA Tournament with 407 points from 1989-92.
37. Only four guys on the Virginia Cavaliers were RSCI top 100 prospects. Talk about coaching them up.
38. Jim Calhoun was the oldest coach ever to win a national championship when his Connecticut Huskies defeated the Butler Bulldogs 53-41 in 2011. He was 68.
39. The Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers set an NCAA record that still stands for the largest margin of victory in an NCAA tournament game (64 points) when they beat the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 111-47 in 1963.
40. Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium holds the record for most national championship games hosted with nine from 1940-64.
41. The number of times no No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four? Three.
42. Only three men have won an NCAA championship as a player and as a head coach (Bob Knight, Dean Smith and Joe B. Hall).
43. Fans fill out an average of 4.5 brackets, with 14% saying they complete six or more.
44. John Thompson was the first black coach to win an NCAA basketball championship. His Georgetown Hoyas defeated the Houston Cougars 85-74 in 1984.
45. Seven teams have won the national championship with perfect records: the 1956 University of San Francisco Dons, the 1957 University of North Carolina Tar Heels, the 1964, 1967, 1972 and 1973 UCLA Bruins, and the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. Here’s looking at you, Wichita State.
46. Larry Brown is the only coach to win both an NCAA title and an NBA title.
47. San Francisco’s Bill Russell pulled down 27 against Iowa in the 1956 championship game. That is still the record for most rebounds in an NCAA tournament game.
48. UCLA won 10 titles in 12 seasons from 1964 to 1975, including 7 in a row during one stretch.
49. American workers will spend almost 8.4 million hours watching March Madness games. Don’t feel guilty.
50. Men are more likely than women to watch the women’s tournament. Surprising.
51. The North Carolina Tar Heels have the most Final Four appearances with 18.
52. Only four freshmen have been named NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player (Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012, Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony in 2003, Louisville’s Pervis Ellison in 1986, and Utah’s Arnie Ferrin in 1944).
53. Shaquille O’Neal set an NCAA record by blocking 11 shots in one game for LSU in 1989.
54. The size of the cumulative viewing audience for the men’s tournament outnumbers the women’s tournament by a factor of more than 3 to 1.
55. The term March Madness is widely said to have originated from sports commentator Brent Musburger. See, he creates more than just modeling careers.
56. Notre Dame’s Austin Carr scored a tournament-record 61 points in a first-round win over Ohio in 1970.
57. Northwestern is the only school from a power six conference never to make the NCAA tournament. Ouch.
58. Nebraska and Northwestern are the only schools from a power six conference never to win an NCAA tournament game. Double ouch.
59. BYU has made the most NCAA Tournament appearances without a Final Four.
60. Only one team scored over 100 points in an NCAA championship game in the 1990s. UNLV scored 103 in their 103-73 rout of Duke.
61. UCLA owns the most NCAA championships with 11, followed by Kentucky (eight), and Indiana and North Carolina (five each).
62. Since 1986, teams that win the national championship have been given the actual hardwood court they won the championship on.
63. In 1997, the Arizona Wildcats defeated three No. 1 seeds en route to the title.
64. Fans spend on average 75 minutes filling out their brackets.
65. The University of Dayton Arena has hosted more NCAA Tournament games than any other arena.
66. The NCAA does not keep any of the profits it makes from “March Madness”.
67. The youngest coach to ever win the championship was Indiana’s Emmett McCracken at 31 years old.
68. The last Final Four that didn’t include at least one team with an animal mascot was In 1987, the Final Four was UNLV (Runnin’ Rebels), Indiana (Hoosiers), Syracuse (Orangemen) and Providence (Friars).