The aim of the NCAA tournament is not just rewarding the best teams, but matching teams with contrasting strengths.
The Iona Gaels, as an eight-point betting underdog against the Iowa State Cyclones at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, are a trendy choice to prevail in a 13 vs. 4 game in Denver. The No. 13 seeds were 3-1 against the spread last season, and Iowa State can be slow to ramp up their defensive intensity.
Iona PG A.J. English III is a 22.4-PPG scorer, and could deliver in the city where his dad, NBA legend Alex English, starred for the Denver Nuggets.
If the Wichita State Shockers defeat the Arizona Wildcats in Thursday’s first 6 seed vs. 11 seed game, whilst their fellow 11 seed the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeat the Seton Hall Pirates, neither would be a true upset. The No. 11 seeds are 16-11-1 against the spread in the last seven years of March Madness.
Arizona is favored by 1.5 points against Wichita State. The latter, though, is ninth in the KenPom.com rankings, compared to the Wildcats’ 16th.
Gonzaga and Seton Hall are about equal (27th and 24th) in the rankings, and each is coming in after they won their tournaments in the West Conference Conference and the Big East. Gonzaga is a one-point favorite, so it likely might not require a perfect effort to cover, survive and advance.
Gonzaga is travelling east to Chicago and is 5-0 straight up and 4-0-1 ATS over its last five games. Seton Hall has to move past the elation of winning the Big East title for the first time in 23 seasons. It is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games.
The No. 8 seeds are 8-2 SU and 8-2 ATS as underdogs since 2011. The ninth-seeded Connecticut Huskies are three-point faves against the Colorado Buffaloes, and so to is No. 9 Providence a two-point favorite over the USC Trojans.
The favorites have the stronger postseason reputation, but do bear in mind that coaches chart a course and players only play the current season.
No. 16 seeds are 8-4 ATS since 2013 according to the trends data at OddsShark.com. Any spread in the low 20s for 1 vs. 16 is worth a gander; the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles are 22-point underdogs to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the East Region.