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Basketball Odds: NCAA Tournament Daily Betting Insights and Analysis on DraftKings Sportsbook

Matt Meiselman recaps all the NCAA Tournament action on DraftKings Sportsbook with betting splits, insights and analysis from the opening weekend.

Oklahoma v Gonzaga Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Welcome to the DraftKings Sportsbook daily betting insights page! For the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament, you can check in here to find daily recaps from the previous day’s games with betting trends, sportsbook data, and more!


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Monday March 22

Surprising Results

No. 7 Oregon over No. 2 Iowa (95-80)

Pre-Game Odds: Oregon +5.5, +180

Spread Betting Trends: 33% bets, 31% handle on Oregon to cover

DraftKings Brackets Trends: Only 14.9% of brackets had Oregon making it to the Sweet 16, compared to 81.9% for Iowa. 6.1% of brackets have Oregon winning again next round.

This game was probably most notable for the scoring pace, particularly in the first half:

  • Opening total: 145.5
  • Closing total: 149.5
  • Splits: 60% bets, 87% handle on over
  • In-game total at halftime: 184.5
  • Halftime score: Oregon 56 - Iowa 46

No. 6 USC over No. 3 Kansas (85-51)

Pre-Game Odds: USC -1.5, -124

Spread Betting Trends: 45% bets, 46% handle on USC to cover

DraftKings Brackets Trends: Only 21.4% of brackets had USC making it to the Sweet 16, compared to 74.2% for Kansas. 6.1% of brackets have USC winning again next round.

As seen from the numbers here, USC was actually the lesser picked team in this game by all measures (betting and brackets) despite actually being a small favorite.


Upset Report

  • After a 1-7 Monday, Underdogs are 24-23 ATS so far in the NCAA Tournament and are 16-31 straight up
  • Of the eight most significant upsets so far:

No. 15 Oral Roberts (round one), No. 12 Oregon State (round one), No 13. North Texas (round one), No 13. Ohio (round one), No. 14. Abilene Christian (round one), No. 8 Loyola Chicago (round two), No. 11 Syracuse (round two), No. 15 Oral Roberts (round two)

DraftKings Sportsbook bettors were on the right side of three of them, at least on spread bets:

39% bets, 60% handle on Oral Roberts +15.5

72% bets, 67% handle on Oregon State +8.5

76% bets, 87% handle on Ohio +7

  • No. 15 Oral Roberts is the first team in this year’s tournament to pull off two upsets. They were picked to advance to the Sweet 16 in just 0.3% of DraftKings brackets, and only 0.1% have them winning another game.
  • No. 13 Ohio has been this year’s most popular underdog, getting over three-fourths of the bets and handle for their first game against No. 4 Virginia, and getting around three-fourths of the betting action again for Monday’s game against No. 5 Creighton.

Sunday March 21

Biggest Upsets

No. 8 Loyola Chicago over No. 1 Illinois

Pre-Game Odds: Loyola Chicago +7.5, +275

Spread Betting Trends: 19% bets, 11% handle on Loyola Chicago to cover

DraftKings Brackets Trends: Only 3.7% of brackets had Loyola Chicago making it to the Sweet 16, compared to 91.7% for Illinois. 1.8% of brackets have Loyola Chicago winning again next round.

This was easily the biggest underdog win of the tournament — in terms of bettor sentiment — with under 20% of the bets and handle falling on Loyola Chicago’s side for both the spread and the moneyline.

No. 15 Oral Roberts over No. 7 Florida

Pre-Game Odds: Oral Roberts +8.5, +260

Spread Betting Trends: 70% bets, 69% handle on Oral Roberts to cover

DraftKings Brackets Trends: Only 0.3% of brackets had Oral Roberts making it to the Sweet 16, but only 8.1% had Florida. This was a case of an underdog losing to an even bigger underdog, as almost everyone picked Ohio State to advance from this portion of the bracket.


Near Upsets

No. 2 Houston vs No. 10 Rutgers

Pre-Game Odds: Houston -7.5, -335

Spread Betting Trends: 52% bets, 52% handle on Houston to cover

DraftKings Brackets Trends: 81% of brackets had Houston in the Sweet 16, compared to just 8% for Rutgers.

Houston ultimately was able to advance past Rutgers, but not without substantial effort, coming back from down nine points late in the second half (58-49 with under five minutes remaining). This has been a tournament with many upsets, but Houston’s comeback was the first truly significant late comeback victory we’ve seen so far.


Saturday March 20

Biggest Upsets

No. 14 Abilene Christian over No. 3 Texas

Pre-Game Odds: Abilene Christian +8,5, +310

Spread Betting Trends: 28% bets, 37% handle on Abilene Christian to cover

DraftKings Brackets Trends: 97.4% of brackets had Texas winning on Saturday, 76% had them making the Sweet 16, 38% to the Elite 8, 16% to the Final Four, 3% to the Finals and 1% had them winning it all. Only 0.8% of brackets have Abilene Christian winning another game.

  • Only 7% of handle and 13% of bets were on Abilene Christian ML
  • Texas was the 9th most bet by handle and 8th most bet by bets to win the tournament
  • Texas was also the No. 1 pick by DraftKings Sportsbook users to come out of the East Region — with 50% of the handle and 25% of the bets
  • Texas was third in handle and second in bets to make the Final Four

No. 13 Ohio over No. 4 Virginia

Pre-Game Odds: Ohio +7, +255

Spread Betting Trends: 76% bets, 87% handle on Ohio to cover

DraftKings Brackets Trends: 83.5% of brackets had Virginia winning on Saturday compared to 16.5% for Ohio. 6.8% of brackets have Ohio winning another game.


Friday March 19

Biggest Upsets

No. 15 Oral Roberts over No. 2 Ohio State

Pre-Game Odds: Oral Roberts +15.5, +900

Spread Betting Trends: 39% bets, 60% handle on Oral Roberts to cover

The in-game moneyline for Oral Roberts got as high as +1500, with Ohio State leading 23-15 in the first half, before they turned it around and took the lead before halftime and ultimately wound up winning in overtime.

DraftKings Brackets Trends: 99.1% of brackets had Ohio State winning on Friday, 88% had them moving on to the Sweet 16, 64% to the Elite 8, 26% to the Final Four, 10% to the Finals and 2.7% picked Ohio State to win it all. A total of 0.9% of brackets had Oral Roberts winning the game and 0.3% have Oral Roberts to win a second game, but not a single person picked them to win the tournament.

No. 13 North Texas over No. 4 Purdue

Pre-Game Odds: North Texas +7, +240

Spread Betting Trends: 20% bets, 21% handle on North Texas to cover

North Texas was never more than +300 at any point in the game, staying within range from start to finish. They became the third betting underdog of the day (after Florida and Oral Roberts) to win in overtime after they sealed it in the extra frame.

DraftKings Brackets Trends: 93.5% of brackets had Purdue winning on Friday, and just over 50% had them advancing to the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, 9% had them going to the Elite Eight, 3% to the Final Four, 1% to the Finals and 0.3% as champions. A total of 6.5% picked North Texas to win the game and 1.4% have them winning again on Sunday.


Near Upsets

No. 3 Arkansas vs No. 14 Colgate

Pre-Game Odds: Arkansas -9, -420

Spread Betting Trends: 56% bets, 56% handle on Arkansas to cover

This was the most bet game by DraftKings Sportsbook bettors of any of Friday’s opening round games, and Colgate actually reached -290 on the live moneyline when they had the ball up 33-19 late in the first half. There was surely a lot of excitement in both directions from this one, as Arkansas came back to take the lead before halftime and ultimately ran away with this one, “easily” covering the spread with a 17-point victory.


Other Notable Outcomes

  • No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 11 Syracuse were +1.5 and +3 respectively, and both won convincingly, with 23- and 16-point victories. The only teams who won by larger margins on Day 1 were seeded 1, 2 or 3 in their regions.
  • Two of the three games that went to overtime went over the total in the extra frame, but the Ohio State vs. Oral Roberts game stayed under the total despite the five extra minutes.
  • A seemingly miraculous run of scoring at the end of the Syracuse vs. San Diego State game led to a win for over bettors (138.5) in the final seconds. There were 28 points scored in the final 3:15 of the game, including nine points in the final 36 seconds, and none of it was due to intentional fouling. Here’s how it went down:

A total of 57% of DraftKings Sportsbook bettors had the over in this game, and the handle was split 50/50 on the over/under.


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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.


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