2024 March Madness Brackets & Betting

by DFSx42
2024 March Madness Brackets & Betting

Hey everyone. I've been thinking a lot about how I'm going to approach this article over the last week and finally decided we're going to go about it in two different directions.

The first section will be a breakdown of good leverage spots for brackets. This will include a brief write-up explaining the reason behind it. This is what I'm going to be basing a lot of the decisions on the money league brackets I'll be joining this week.

The second part will be a live spreadsheet where I'll be adding stuff as the tournament goes along. This is my first real-time diving deep into March Madness betting so I'm not even sure what will appear and what value there will be.

I'm assuming we'll get a bunch of good props to bet. I'm hoping there'll be some player props that are widely available and good as well. We'll see how it goes and play it by ear.

There may be very little out there.

I'm also somewhat compromised here, I work with some people who bet on March Madness heavily. So if I know they are betting something, I'm taking food out of their kid's mouths by sharing it and killing it, i.e. there are a few things I've hit for these guys on their behalf in a partnership that I'm unable to disclose.

I'll still share what I can and I will be personally betting everything I share. So I'm not just picking stuff for content. I want to be transparent that if I give out plays that were the result of a collaboration, even indirectly so, then those people would stop collaborating with me going forward.

2024 March Madness Brackets & Betting

The bracket is set up by seeding, which can sometimes be quite arbitrary. This means certain dogs can actually be real-life favorites at times. Other times, the matchups are really close but the ownership of picks will be heavily shaded to one side or the other.

Recap

As the sample size got bigger, we went back towards expectation. Had you tailed every single bet then you would have gone 34-47 for a profit of 3.1675 units.

We got gaped in the micro value stuff but crushed in all the big value multi unit wagers I liked. We went 3-0 in our 3u bangers, which makes me think that when we do stuff like this again, we'll go even smaller on the tinier value propositions and put them in the degen category worth only .1u like we did in the NFL.

Heading into Final Four

After a disastrous start, we closed the gap a bit and are 30-42 for -1.22 units. The big reason for the assymetric record and win/loss record is we have won all of our big bets and big chunk of losses came via .25u player prop losses. As always, a sample of only 72 wagers is meaningless so I'm not going to bother finding trends and seeing if player props are not beatable during march madness etc. If next year we have similar results then perhaps we just stop playing them but for now it's just noise that we'll ignore.

We still have 3 wagers that are pending and all look really good.

Still up on the docket is Uconn>Purdue exacta -115 for a degen wager of .1u (I personally bet this heavily because I'm a UConn homer from New England but only counted this as a small degen wager because it was neutral value.

We also got Uconn advance further than Purdue -120 for 3u and UConn champions +350 for 1u (I got as good at +410 in the real world though but +350 was widely available and still liked it at that number so we went with that for record keeping since not everyone could get better than +350).

If UConn wins tomorrow, which they are heavy favorites, we'll end up in the positive quite easily. If you tailed for those you're also in a great position to lock in a profit by hedging as well. But, I don't think I personally will be hedging but am open to the idea if some value reveals itself.

We could also end up finding some totals, sides, or player prop value. I'll be on the lookout for those and should tweet out any updates but definitely check back here again later as I imagine there'll be some good options available.

Elite 8 & Final 4 Recap

The Elite 8 was pretty mid, we went 6-6 with a small loss of .32u to the vig. The silver lining is it's highly improbable you were able to get onboard and tail the Tenn/Purdue over because the market moved sharply against that not long after I posted it, so most people tailing went 6-5 for +.68u. However, we're not here about fudging numbers and whataboutisms, the record stands as recorded.

Final 4 was great, we went 3-1 with winning the big one to go +2.25u. Importantly, it also cashed out preseason #1 seed makes final which was a 3 unit banger.

We're currently at -4.22 units on the entire tourney. I'm not going to sugar coat it, that sucks and is not the performance I expect from myself. However, more silver linings is we are in a position to likely profit anyway.

We do have 3 units pending on two wagers in the women's final today and I like those enough to include them and tweet them out (update - they all won).

Sweet 16 Recap

This was absolutely demoralizing. After breaking even on the first night (with a tough loss on our guy we had the points over on going 2/11) we just got curb stomped on day two going 1-8.  Overall, we went 5-11 for -3.2125 units. We also lost our unofficial degen wager of .1u.

Most frustrating thing about this is we got so much CLV on these plays that I actually ran the numbers on deciding to "buy back" them all at the new lines and try to go for the middle. Alas, I decided against that given that it was often just 1-2 points and we'd mostly be paying vig. But seeing how they all lost outright anyway, I guess it would have paid off to buy them back. But we can't get too results oriented, you're going to lose value in the long run taking -ev positions in order to protect your +ev position.

All in all, including that degen wager, we are 18-32 for -9.9 units. The good news is, CLV indicates we're doing something right and just getting whacked by variance over a low sample.

We also have 6 wagers still pending and if we win those, we'll actually be up overall because a bunch are multi unit bangers. All of them have increased in value significantly and could be hedged out profitably (but we won't). A lot of those outstanding wagers are heavily tied to Uconn, so them winning the East, making the final, lasting longer than Purdue, and winning it outright will all spell big paydays for us if you've been tailing.

Remember, our NFL system absolutely crushed over the course of the season but had many -10 unit dips just like we're experiencing here. I'm disappointed by these results, but not disheartened, it's just part of the process of winning 55%. You're going to have plenty of bad stretches mixed in throughout the season.

R32 Recap

The second round of the tournament also performed poorly overall. We went 6-12 to lose 6.5125 units. While this is not the results we're looking for. I can't emphasize enough that we're dealing with small samples here. The record was especially hurt by having our two bigger conviction plays of 2u each both lose as well.

This result puts us at 10-20 for -10.3875 thus far for the tournament. However, I'm still optimistic. We earned CLV on all our Sweet 16 wagers, where the line moved in our favor on all of those which were placed early. We are also in a very good position with all of our tournament wide wagers. Uconn is now +200 to win and -190 to win the East. We already won our Gonzaga vs St Mary's last longer wager and our Uconn>Purdue last longer still looks really good. Duke and Gonzaga are both still in it and we thus cashed the bets we had on them to make the sweet 16.

So we are on pace to break even or even be ahead right now despite our disastrous R64 and R32 results. Let's see how this Sweet 16 round goes and see if we can start cashing some more tickets.

R64 Recap

Round 1 did not go that great for us. We went -3.875 units with a 4-8 record. A bunch of stuff which felt like pretty good value lost with ease, which is not a great sign.

Having said that, we're already 1-0 for +3 units in tournament long wagers. I've also been doing very well in 2h betting but those aren't getting included in the tally because it's unlikely anyone could reasonably tail them in time given there's just a few minutes available to bet into them. For this same reason, I didn't include 2h or live wagers in my NFL betting.

I'm also not too concerned about a sample of 12 wagers. If you recall the NFL wagers, they did very well over the course of the year and if anyone tailed they would have had a very profitable season. Yet we had multiple downhill periods of losing 20+ units before things would turn around.

So onward and upward to R2 (which truth be told is not looking so great either) but our season long bets are looking incredibly good right now.

Conservative Leverage Picks

East Region

#8 FAU

While this will be close, FAU is a slightly bigger favorite than the public is buying them at.

D+ value - small leverage and unlikely to be a multi-round play

#12 UAB

While unlikely to win, they'll still get it done about 1/3 of the time and the public is picking them around 25% of the time. The best part of this play is so long as you have Uconn advancing, the downside is capped as the alternative would not advance more than another round at most anyway.

C+ value - big leverage but unlikely to go deep

#6 BYU

I'm going to have BYU soaking up 100% of my brackets. They are one of the few favorites who aren't picked up enough by the field.

B value - minimal leverage but very likely to win

#10 Drake

They are outright favorites to win despite being a 10 seed. Sadly the public is aware and slightly prefers them over their opponent.

C+ value - minimal leverage and likely a single-round play

South Region

#1 Houston

The field is heavy on them, but perhaps not heavy enough as they win this over 98% of the time, but the public is picking them around 95%.

D- value - micro leverage but likely to go for multiple rounds

#6 Texas Tech

Nearly half of the bracket people are picking N.C. State here but Texas Tech should win about 2/3 of the time.

A+ value - massive leverage and multi-round playability

#10 BSU/COLO

We will need to check back in on this once it's settled but for now, they are picked by about 25% and that's probably too low.

Unknown value - will revisit

West Region

#8 Mississippi State

#9 Michigan State is a 1-point favorite in this match. The public has correctly recognized this and piled into them. However, a 1-point spread is basically a pick'em, so we're better off taking Miss St. here for the leverage as there are far fewer people playing them.

B+ value - great leverage hurt by the fact it's a one-round play

#11 New Mexico

Outright favorites and played by fewer people. It also opens you up to make a big play on Baylor.

A+ value - best leverage all-tourney for an implied winner and you remove what should be a somewhat popular pick to go deep in addition

#2 Arizona

Heavy favorites who the public may not be playing quite as much as they should be.

C value - minuscule leverage supported by being a good multi-round play

Midwest Region

#9 TCU

They are a 60/40 favorite here and ownership is fairly split 50/50.

C+ value - good leverage weakened by it being a one-round play

#13 Samford

I never heard of this school before I ran this model. I even found myself mistakenly calling them Samson in discussions with other modelers. But here's hoping Samford gets me lifted as I'll be playing them in at least half my brackets.

They'll win about 30% of the time and the public is only picking them 20% of the time.

B- value - good leverage but very risky and can lead to a bracket-breaking domino effect if they lose

#11 Oregon

They are the outright favorite to win this game but ownership slightly favors the other side.

A- value - great leverage and can really open up doors to confidently play Creighton on a deep run

#2 Tennessee

Huge favorite that the public is fading over 5% of the time. While they will sometimes lose, they are not losing anywhere close to 5% of the time here.

C+ value - minimal leverage but very safe

#10 UVA/CSU

This will need to check back in on once it's settled but for now, they are picked by less than 20% and that's probably too low

Unknown value - will revisit

Round 1 Yolo Shots

This is where you make the big money on upsets or have a worthless bracket on day one.

East Region

#14 Morehead St

They will win about 12% of the time, which is about 1/8 times this is played in the multiverse and are going to be owned by a single digit % of brackets.

#13 Yale

The leverage here isn't that great, as the public is nearly playing them close to the correct amount, where I'd normally advocate for a safer play. But what makes this one worthy of considering is that Uconn seems to be an unstoppable team of destiny so if this fails, it doesn't necessarily crush your bracket because it's unlikely Auburn would have gotten past Uconn anyway so the damage when they lose is limited to one or two rounds in most instances.

South Region

#13 Vermont

They will beat Duke about 13% of the time, the same situation as with Yale above. The tiny amount of leverage is aided by Houston being so dominant that when this blows up in your face, it's likely to be contained to one or two rounds instead of destroying an entire section of the bracket.

#14 Oakland

Less than 5% of teams are picking them but they will win 10% of the time for really good leverage. This one is especially helpful if you're selecting Texas Tech to go far.

West Region

#12 Grand Canyon

They win it about 1/3 of the time. The public has them about 1/4 of the time. So the leverage is good and the risk isn't that great.

#13 Charleston

While very unlikely to win (a little less than 1/5), their ownership is very low.  I'll be heavily avoiding this one though, largely because I'll be playing Grand Canyon quite a bit and that inherently frees up Alabama to go fairly deep. I will however get spicy with at least one bracket playing both to win their 1st round.

South Region

#13 McNeese

They win about 30% of the time and only in about 20% of the brackets.  Decent leverage spot but I won't be playing too much because my love of Samford means that I'll be having Gonzaga go fairly deep in quite a few brackets.


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