2024 March Madness Betting Trends: How the Top Men’s Seeds Perform Against the Spread

Between Selection Sunday and Thursday afternoon, when the Round of 64 officially tips off, fanatics and casual fans alike will be inundated with dozens of March Madness stats they need to know to help fill out a "perfect" bracket. The odds of doing so are, well, astronomical, but there are plenty of trends to follow for those who are chasing perfection.

Many brackets will automatically advance the No. 1, 2 3 and 4 seeds to the Round of 32 because more often than not, those teams do win against the No. 16, 15, 14 and 13s of the world in the Round of 64, no matter how captivating the rare Fairleigh Dickinson or UMBC upset might be. In the history of the tournament, No. 1s are 150–2 against No. 16s, No. 2s are 141–11 against No. 15s, No. 3s are 130–22 against No. 14s and No. 4s are 120–32 against No. 13s.

But filling out your bracket and betting individual games in March are different beasts altogether. Between Thursday's and Friday's games, 12 of the 32 games with set spreads (No. 1 Purdue, No. 1 North Carolina, No. 7 Florida and No. 7 Texas are still awaiting their opponents) have double-digit lines and all of them include a 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed. It's an easier proposition to advance UConn, a -20000 favorite on the moneyline against Stetson, than it is to predict whether the Huskies will beat the Hatters by 27 points or more to cover the spread.

That's why we're taking a look at the betting profiles of the top 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Not every high seed is as reliable to bet on as one might think.

(Odds via FanDuel.)

Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 UConn Huskies

Record: 31–3
Record over last 10 games: 9–1
ATS record: 22–12
ATS record over last 10: 8–2
Championship Odds: +370 (first)
Round of 64 Spread: -26.5 vs. Stetson

The No. 1 overall seed was favored in all but one game (at Kansas) this season and still finished with one of the best cover rates in the country. The Huskies' +17.1 scoring margin was the second-best mark in DI after McNeese State, which allowed them to consistently cover double-digit spreads. UConn posted an 11–8 record against the spread as a 10-point favorite and went 5–4 when favored by 20-plus points. The reigning champs have the largest line in the Round of 64 against Stetson and the Huskies have won four of their last 10 games by 27 or more points.

No. 1 Houston Cougars

Record: 30–4
Record over last 10 games: 9–1
ATS record: 16–16–2
ATS record over last 10: 5–5
Championship Odds: +600 (second)
Round of 64 Spread: -24.5 vs. Longwood

The Cougars have yet to be installed as an underdog this season and that's unlikely to change before the Final Four, if at all. Houston's 50% cover rate isn't turning any heads and its last game before the Big Dance was a 69–41 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 title game as a 5.5-point favorite. However, in the three games prior, the Cougars won big — and covered — against Texas Tech, TCU and Kansas, three tournament teams, and built on their plus-16 scoring margin, which is No. 3 nationally. Houston finished 6–5 against the spread as a favorite of 20-plus points.

No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers

Record: 29–4
Record over last 10 games: 8–2
ATS record: 16–15–2
ATS record over last 10: 3–7
Championship Odds: +700 (third)
Round of 64 Spread: TBD — plays winner of Grambling State-Montana State

The Boilermakers' first-round spread is yet to be set with the Tigers and Bobcats playing Tuesday night for the right to face the Big Ten power, but bettors will recall how their season ended each of the last two years. Purdue lost to No. 15 Saint Peter's, 67–64, as a 13-point favorite in the Sweet 16 in 2022. The following year was even worse: A 63–58 loss to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson as a 23-point favorite in the Round of 64. With those upsets still fresh and the Boilermakers struggling to cover down the stretch, it's fair to doubt this team's ability to cover what's bound to be a hefty spread to begin the Big Dance. Purdue finished just 7–11 against the spread this season as a double-digit favorite.

No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels

Record: 27–7
Record over last 10 games: 8–2
ATS record: 19–15
ATS record over last 10: 5–5
Championship Odds: +1700 (T-fifth)
Round of 64 Spread: TBD — plays winner of Wagner-Howard

The Tar Heels performed well enough against the spread for much of the year, but they were last seen losing 84–76 to N.C. State in the ACC Championship as a 10-point favorite. That brought UNC's against the spread record as a favorite of 10 or more points to 7–7. It was rare that the Tar Heels were installed as a favorite of 20 or more, which could be the case against the Seahawks or Bison in the Round of 64. North Carolina went 2–2 against the spread in that position and is one of 27 teams with a double-digit point differential (+11.3).

Related: March Madness 2024: Complete Schedule, Bracket, How to Watch, Game Times, Odds for Men's NCAA Tournament

No. 2 Arizona Wildcats

Record: 25–8
Record over last 10 games: 7–3
ATS record: 21–12
ATS record over last 10: 6–4
Championship Odds: +1300 (fourth)
Round of 64 Spread: -20.5 vs. Long Beach State

The Wildcats posted an impressive record against the number this season and won outright in the only two games they were not favored (at Duke and at Colorado). Like some of the other top seeds, Arizona had a letdown loss as a favorite in its conference title game. In this case, it was a 67–59 defeat against Oregon as an 11.5-point favorite. For much of the year, though, the Wildcats beat up on bad teams. They went 12–8 against the spread as a double-digit favorite and 5–1 when giving 20 or more points, which will be the case Thursday against Long Beach State. Arizona's plus-15.7 scoring margin is fifth-best in the country and their 87.9 points per game average ranks No. 3 nationally.

No. 2 Marquette Golden Eagles

Record: 25–9
Record over last 10 games: 6–4
ATS record: 20–13–1
ATS record over last 10: 6–4
Championship Odds: +2500 (T-ninth)
Round of 64 Spread: -14.5 vs. Western Kentucky

When the Golden Eagles have been favored to win big this season, they've done so more often than not. Marquette is 8–5 against the spread as a double-digit favorite, and will look to build on that record Friday against Western Kentucky. Unlike some of the other top seeds, the Golden Eagles have been an underdog more than a handful of times. They're 4–4–1 when getting points, though they're unlikely to be in that position again until the Sweet 16 at the earliest.

No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers

Record: 24–8
Record over last 10 games: 7–3
ATS record: 16–15–1
ATS record over last 10: 6–4
Championship Odds: +1700 (T-fifth)
Round of 64 Spread: -21.5 vs. Saint Peter's

Add the Vols to the list of top teams that unceremoniously lost their last game as a heavy favorite. Tennessee fell to Mississippi State 73–56 as a 9.5-point favorite in the SEC Tournament. That was the fewest points the Vols have scored all season and the result was somewhat surprising given their 9–6 record against the spread as a double-digit favorite this season. Tennessee is 3–3 against the spread as a favorite of 20-plus points, which will be the case against Saint Peter's. The No. 15 Peacocks infamously upset No. 2 Kentucky in 2022 as an 18.5-point underdog in the Round of 64.

No. 2 Iowa State Cyclones

Record: 27–7
Record over last 10 games: 8–2
ATS record: 23–10–1
ATS record over last 10: 6–4
Championship Odds: +2000 (seventh)
Round of 64 Spread: -16.5 vs. South Dakota State

No team in the Big Dance has a better cover rate than the Cyclones and they head into the tournament on a high note following a 69–41 win over Houston in the Big 12 title game as a 5.5-point underdog. No matter the situation, Iowa State has been a good team to bet on this year. The Cyclones are 6–2–1 against the spread as an underdog, 17–8 as a favorite and 9–3 as a double-digit favorite. Their plus-14.3 point differential is a top-10 mark nationally and only three teams allow fewer points per game than ISU (61.3).

Related: 2024 March Madness: Odds and Spread for Every Round 1 Game

No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats

Record: 23–9
Record over last 10 games: 7–3
ATS record: 18–14
ATS record over last 10: 5–5
Championship Odds: +3000 (T-11th)
Round of 64 Spread: -13.5 vs. Oakland

The good news about the Wildcats: They went 6–1 against the spread as an underdog with five outright upsets. The bad news: They finished just 12–13 as a favorite and are likely to be favored through the Sweet 16, if not longer. Add UK to the list of teams that lost big in its conference tournament as a favorite following a 97–87 defeat against Texas A&M in the SEC tournament as a 5.5-point favorite. The Wildcats have the No. 2 scoring offense in the country (89.4 ppg) but their scoring margin is in the single digits because they have one of the worst defenses in DI. Kentucky finished 6–7 as a double-digit favorite and failed to cover its last three games in that spot.

No. 3 Illinois Illini

Record: 26–8
Record over last 10 games: 8–2
ATS record: 18–13–3
ATS record over last 10: 6–4
Championship Odds: +3500 (T-13th)
Round of 64 Spread: -11.5 vs. Morehead State

The Illini were among the few dozen teams who finished with a double-digit scoring differential (plus-10.6), but they still had trouble covering large spreads. Illinois went 5–7 against the spread as a favorite of 10 or more points, which is the case Thursday against Morehead State. It should be noted that the Illini are one of the hottest teams in the country, coming off a Big Ten tournament title and their only loss in their last eight games was against Purdue.

No. 3 Creighton Bluejays

Record: 23–9
Record over last 10 games: 7–3
ATS record: 17–15
ATS record over last 10: 7–3
Championship Odds: +2500 (T-ninth)
Round of 64 Spread: -12.5 vs. Akron

For much of the year, the Bluejays were a bad team to bet on. But over the last few weeks, Creighton has begun to put it all together for bettors, best shown by an 85–66 win over UConn as a 2.5-point underdog. The Bluejays had a losing record against the spread heading into February but they are 7–4 since then. Creighton's 8–5 record as a double-digit favorite should inspire confidence ahead of Thursday's game against Akron.

No. 3 Baylor Bears

Record: 23–10
Record over last 10 games: 6–4
ATS record: 19–11–2
ATS record over last 10: 6–4
Championship Odds: +3500 (T-13th)
Round of 64 Spread: -13.5 vs. Colgate

The Bears covered at a high clip this season, especially as a favorite. Baylor posted a sterling 15–5–2 record against the spread as a favorite but went just 4–6 as an underdog. The Bears' proficiency at covering as a favorite extended to their few games in which they were heavily favored. As a double-digit favorite, Baylor finished 6–2 against the spread, a record that included covers as a 34.5-point and 40-point favorite.

Related: March Madness Brackets: Expert Predictions for the 2024 Men's NCAA Tournament

No. 4 Auburn Tigers

Record: 27–7
Record over last 10 games: 8–2
ATS record: 21–13
ATS record over last 10: 6–4
Championship Odds: +2200 (eighth)
Round of 64 Spread: -12.5 vs. Yale

The Tigers were only installed as an underdog twice all season (at Alabama and at Tennessee) and they failed to cover in either game. However, Auburn's 21–11 mark against the spread as a favorite is up there with the best records in the country. The Tigers enter the Big Dance as reigning SEC champions and winners of six straight (five by double digits). Auburn is 11–5 against the spread as a favorite of 10 or more points and is once again a double-digit favorite in its Round of 64 matchup with Yale.

No. 4 Duke Blue Devils

Record: 24–8
Record over last 10 games: 7–3
ATS record: 18–13
ATS record over last 10: 7–3
Championship Odds: +3000 (T-11th)
Round of 64 Spread: -11.5 vs. Vermont

The Blue Devils enter the Big Dance having covered 10 of their last 13 games, but they've also lost back-to-back games outright as a favorite. Duke lost to UNC 84–79 in the regular-season finale as a five-point favorite and against N.C. State in the ACC tourney, also as a five-point favorite. The Blue Devils boast one of the best scoring differentials in the field (plus-12.4) and are no stranger being installed as a heavy favorite. Duke finished 10–8 against the spread as a favorite of 10 or more points.

No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks

Record: 22–10
Record over last 10 games: 4–6
ATS record: 13–18–1
ATS record over last 10: 3–7
Championship Odds: +4500 (16th)
Round of 64 Spread: -8.5 vs. Samford

The Jayhawks are the only top four seed with a losing record against the spread this season. Some of that is a byproduct of playing in the brutal Big 12, but Kansas has also struggled down the stretch, partially due to injuries, and lost its last two games by a combined 50 points. The Jayhawks especially struggled outside of Lawrence as they are 3–7 against the spread and 4–6 straight up over their last 10 road and neutral site games. KU's plus-6.5 scoring margin is also easily the worst of any of the top four seeds.

No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide

Record: 21–11
Record over last 10 games: 5–5
ATS record: 17–15
ATS record over last 10: 3–7
Championship Odds: +3500 (T-13th)
Round of 64 Spread: -9.5 vs. Charleston

The Crimson Tide limp into the tournament having covered just one of their last seven games. During that stretch, they lost four times outright to tournament teams, three times as a favorite. Still, Alabama has delivered as a heavy favorite, posting an 8–4 record when giving 10 or more points. The Tide are just under that threshold Friday against Charleston. If 'Bama keeps advancing, its 2–6 record against the spread as an underdog is something to keep in mind.


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