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NCAA March Madness 2022: Trends to trust and avoid

NCAA March Madness 2022 is flying towards its final stages and we're now down to the Final Four: we’ve taken the opportunity to break down some of the key sports betting trends to trust and avoid, following our learnings from the first week of the NCAA Tournament.

Sean Paul College Basketball Betting Expert

Sean Paul

College basketball betting expert

Sean Paul brings a wide ranging knowledge of basketball to his coverage, covering topics across all 32 conferences in College Basketball. He is a member of the US Basketball Writers Association and the co-host of the MakingTheMadness podcast.

March Madness: Trends to trust and trends to avoid

It's time for the March Madness Final Four: the hottest time of the College Basketball season, featuring some of the biggest names the sport offers. We'll discuss trends to trust and trends to avoid following the first two weeks of the Big Dance.

The play in March can change the perception of a team, despite what the first three months of college basketball games would say. For example: North Carolina is one of the final four teams remaining, but they weren't even a tournament lock in early February after losing to an awful Pittsburgh squad. That Pittsburgh loss plummeted UNC's Kenpom ranking to 49th in the country, but it sits 16th nationally at the time of writing.

March Madness trends to trust

Recent performances against opponent:

The trend listed above only fits the billing for North Carolina & Duke, but I think the matchups from the 2021-22 season matter. It gives a decent baseline on matchups and how players fared against opponents they'll be seeing again in the Final Four. The first matchup resulted in Duke destroying UNC, while the Tar Heels exacted revenge in Coach K's final home game in Durham - what does Round three offer? We'll see, but there's certain tidbits worth taking away from the two prior meetings this season. There are always adjustments made, but we're seeing two teams with blowout wins on the opposing team's court. How do you look at that several months later? Things change, but you can see what to expect in some sense.

Duke's covering ability in the tournament:

Duke have covered three of four tournament games, and Cal State Fullerton covered on a late back door. It's a recent trend which also gives away how I feel about the final four-game, but only giving 4.5 seems light based on the Blue Devils recent performances. Duke didn't miss a shot in the final eight minutes against Texas Tech's top-ranked defense and made Arkansas elite defense look very average. North Carolina doesn't have the same kind of defense those two have, so I expect Duke's covering the spread ways to continue.

Kansas/Villanova keeping the scoring to a minimum:

The under was the correct call in three of the four games for Kansas & Villanova to this point. Both teams play incredibly tough defensive basketball and won't allow easy baskets. With Villanova banged up and lacking depth: they might rely on their defense more than usual, leading to the total sneaking under in the March Madness Final Four matchups between the two teams. In the second half of their Elite Eight wins over Miami, Kansas didn't allow the Canes to get any dribble penetration, and Villanova likes to keep the game at a deliberate pace. Two teams that can lock in on the defensive end could make the first Final Four game a chess match or a defensive slog. The trend for three of four games hitting the under tells a decent story despite the small sample size of games.

March Madness trends to avoid

Hero Mobile Basketball NCAAB March Madness

"...when it comes to betting, all that matters is what's happening on the court right now."

Past Final Four successes:

There's something to be said for the postseason success of Jay Wright & Coach K, but that's not something to look at when betting on the 2022 Final Four. All that matters is how the team is playing, who is on the active roster, and the current matchup. The success of the 2016 Villanova has no impact on the success of the 2022 Villanova. Sure, looking at the history of teams is fun in a historical context, but when it comes to betting, all that matters is what's happening on the court right now.

North Carolina's defense:

North Carolina has turned around their woeful defensive performances from the first part of the season. However, they allowed 87 and 81 points in the two regular-season meetings against the Duke Blue Devils. Some of the improvement defensively comes from struggling opposing offenses in the March Madness Round of 64 and March Madness Round of 32. Duke just has too many options with Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, and Wendell Moore: we'll see a bit of regression on the Tar Heels' defensive front when put to the test against an offensive juggernaut like Duke. UNC faced two teams outside the top-50 (Marquette and Saint Peter's) of KenPom's offensive efficiency rankings, which helped to pad UNC’s defensive stats.

Villanova's shooting struggles:

In the past three games, Villanova shot below 35 percent from beyond the arc, including 21 percent in their March Madness Elite Eight win over Houston. I wouldn't bet on this shooting trend continuing as the Wildcats have the best point guard in the country, Collin Gillespie and reliable shooter Caleb Daniels. Losing the production of the injured Justin Moore hurts but never bet on Villanova struggling in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was shooting in the high 36 percent range from three before the tournament, so seeing some regression to the mean wouldn't be unexpected. The attempts will come as the Wildcats attempt 46 percent of their shots from bonus range.

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4/6/2024, 10:09 PM
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NC State
4/7/2024, 12:49 AM

Last updated: Apr 5, 5:48 PM UTC


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Apr 6, 24 @ 10:09 PM UTC
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NC State
Apr 7, 24 @ 12:49 AM UTC

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Team Conf W L Pct Home Away Div Ats OU
1 Albany Albany 5-11 13 18 .419 8-5 5-13 0-0 15-15-0 15-14-1
2 Binghamton Binghamton 7-9 15 14 .517 10-4 5-10 0-0 15-12-0 14-13-0
3 Bryant Bryant 11-5 19 12 .613 11-3 8-9 0-0 14-15-0 12-17-0
4 Maine Maine 7-9 15 16 .484 9-4 6-12 0-0 18-12-0 10-18-2
5 Massachusetts Lowell Massachusetts Lowell 11-5 20 9 .690 10-3 10-6 0-0 12-14-0 12-13-1
6 New Hampshire New Hampshire 7-9 15 14 .517 8-5 7-9 0-0 13-15-0 13-15-0
7 NJIT NJIT 3-13 7 21 .250 5-8 2-13 0-0 10-17-0 9-18-0
8 UMBC UMBC 6-10 11 20 .355 6-9 5-11 0-0 17-13-0 16-14-0
9 Vermont Vermont 15-1 25 6 .806 14-1 11-5 0-0 14-15-0 8-21-0

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