Keys to NCAA Tournament Success

Betting tips and winning formulas for cashing in on March Madness

Last season I provided a postseason primer prior to the keys to NCAA Tournament update.聽 Then the NCAA Tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic, and all sports have not been the same due to the coronavirus.

So this season, I’ve combined some of the previous postseason primer info with stats and handicapping insight into a keys to NCAA Tournament success update that I initially provided at Offshore Gaming Association. You can review more at OSGA in that link, and I’ve added some of the keys and highlights below.

Highest Scoring Teams in NCAA Tournament聽聽

The 2021 NCAA Tournament teams 聽that score an average of at least 80 points per game:

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Gonzaga (92.1)
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Colgate (86.4)
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Baylor (84.4)
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Iowa (83.8)
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Arkansas (82.4)
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 LSU (82.2)
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Illinois (81.1)
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Ohio (80.4)

Close – Alabama (79.6) and Florida State (78.9)

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2014-15 鈥 3 teams
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2015-16 鈥 23 teams
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2016-17 鈥 36 teams
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2017-18 鈥 37 teams
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2018-19 鈥 24 teams
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2019-20 – 9 teams
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2020-21 鈥 16 teams

Keys to NCAA Tournament success

Offense:聽Scoring and offense continues to get headlines and is imperative for success. In tournament play, you must be able to score and avoid long scoring droughts. But with the top teams playing in the NCAA Tournament, there are more teams聽capable on the defensive end of shutting down one scoring option. Take the time as able to review the聽top shooting teams, then break down the tournament match-ups and dig deeper into 2-point and 3-point shooting, efficiency along with pace of play and how those teams fared against other top teams. Stronger defensive teams often force longer possessions and give nothing away, forcing players to make more passes in search of quality shots. Thus, experience is a real plus along with quality point guard play and scoring balance, both from the perimeter and inside with multiple scoring options.

Defense: Teams that play solid defense and minimize turnovers and second chance opportunities will win more games. Defensive dominators are your best bet when evaluating keys to NCAA Tournament success. 聽Strong defensive teams聽are often very well coached, and can make adjustments to another teams strength or offensive abilities. A scan of聽KenPom‘s top-20 defensive efficiency teams and rankings shows some of the highest seeded teams in the NCAA Tournament: keys to NCAA TournamentGonzaga聽(10),聽Illinois聽(5),聽Michigan聽(7),聽Alabama聽(2),聽Houston聽(16),聽Kansas聽(6),聽Arkansas聽(14),聽Tennessee聽(4). Teams seeded 6 and 7 in the NCAA Tournament also in the top 20 of defensive efficiency include聽San Diego State, USC聽and聽Clemson聽with No. 8 seed聽Loyola Chicago聽ranking No. 1 in the country in defensive efficiency.聽Oklahoma State, Purdue聽and聽Texas Tech聽are next in the top-25.

Discipline on defense and players willing to commit on that end of the court is a learned skill by coaches that demand it with constant energy and effort on defense. The type of defense a team plays may vary from game to game with man-to-man, zone or full court pressure. Superior defensive teams and those that have quality athletes and flexibility to adjust are your best bets. Key stats to analyze are聽defensive field goal percentage聽and聽turnovers forced, with overall points-per-game allowed also of note, especially versus quality teams.

Credit: Brian Spurlock -USA TODAY Sports

Rebounding:聽One of the most overlooked areas in evaluating teams is their ability to rebound the basketball. The key here is聽rebounding margin, which goes together with a team鈥檚 defensive field goal percentage. Teams that are physical, strong and athletic on the boards also create more fouls on the opponent and get to the free throw line more often. The top teams will always be strong in these areas, and the ability to control the boards, rebound relentlessly on offense and minimize second-chance points on defense will go a long way in determining whether a team advances or not.

Notable tournament teams with rebounding margin of 7.5 or more per game include:聽North Carolina, (10+),聽Illinois,Utah State,聽Houston聽(9+) and聽Gonzaga聽(7.5+).

Other stat profiles and parameters include聽scoring margin. These NCAA Tournament teams all had an average scoring margin of at least 11 points per game this season led by聽Gonzaga鈥檚 remarkable +23 points per game scoring margin. They were followed by:聽Houston聽(+19), Colgate, Baylor聽(+17), Loyola Chicago, Cal Santa Barbara聽and聽San Diego State聽(+13),聽Illinois聽(+12),聽Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan聽and聽Utah State.

keys to NCAA Tournament

College Basketball Handicapping

The difficulty for many handicappers and bettors is breaking down the match-ups with less familiar teams. Evaluating the statistical information, interpreting the data and analyzing how teams and players will perform when facing a different level of class opponent often keeps bettors away from unknown teams. Many will bet on the bigger favorites and name brands without knowing the strength and ability of some of the mid-major teams.

The intangibles of coaching, leadership, experience, team chemistry, injuries and riding momentum are part of the process in uncovering information to assist you when betting.

As you evaluate other statistical profiles and parameters, including聽assist-to-turnover ratio聽and聽net turnover margin, note that teams that take care of the basketball and create better shots with ball movement more than isolated one-on-one play will add to a team鈥檚 positive profile and winning ways. Often to produce profit.

The聽betting line聽is the great equalizer, and the聽opening week of action most often produces the best opportunity to cash and find value when trying to beat the bookmakers.

Avoid getting stuck on media members comments or public perception, and also of touts that make false claims or have you believing they have all the answers. Recognize that each match-up and the next one as teams advance have its own place in evaluation. Don鈥檛 over-react to the most recent result, as the match-ups are key, as is coach and identifying potential value in a betting line.

Stick to some of these ‘Fairway Fundamentals’聽and concepts and you’ll start to see the court more clearly. With some added good fortune, you’ll make more shots and layups and聽cash in聽when betting basketball at the online sportsbooks.

You can bet on it.

Author: FairwayJay is a leading national sports betting analyst, writer, handicapper and sports betting insider providing insight and information you can bet on for nearly two decades from Las Vegas. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events for leading media and sports betting sites and companies. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay