Final Four Trends for Your March Madness Bets

August 18, 2023

The Final Four stage of the NCAA March Madness tournament is a thrilling time for both basketball enthusiasts and bettors. Over the years, several noteworthy trends have emerged, offering insights into team performance and betting strategies. While these trends provide historical context, it’s important to approach them with a critical mindset, as various factors, like roster changes and coaching adjustments, can influence outcomes. 

Here are ten significant trends that can impact your March Madness bets:

Eastern Time Zone Dominance 

Oddly enough, the Eastern time zone has been a dominant factor in NCAA championships, with 21 out of the last 23 champions hailing from this region. While this trend might be attributed to travel schedules favoring eastern teams and the concentration of strong programs like UNC, Duke, Kentucky, Villanova, and Connecticut in that time zone, it’s worth noting that a limited variety of teams has won most titles.

Seed Rankings Matter 

Tournament seed rankings correlate with success. From 2008 to 2021, 21 out of 52 Final Four teams were #1 seeds, and 15 of them made it to the championship game, with ten securing the title. Conversely, only four teams ranked #5 or lower reached the championship game during this period. While conclusions shouldn’t be drawn solely from these statistics, higher-ranked teams have consistently outperformed expectations.

#1 Seeds Against the Spread 

Historically, #1 seeds making it to the Final Four have performed well against the spread (ATS). From 2005 to 2021, they went 24-18 ATS. This trend has shown profitability, particularly in recent years.

Favorites in Semi-Finals 

In the past six tournaments, underdogs have had limited success in semi-final games, with only two winning instances (2015 Wisconsin and 2019 Texas Tech). Favorites have had the upper hand in these matchups.

Favorites in Championship Games 

While underdogs occasionally upset the favorites, the trend has shifted toward favorites winning three out of the last four championship games. Villanova’s victory in 2018 and Baylor’s dominant performance in 2021 halted the underdog streak that started in 2014.

Champions and ATS Records 

An intriguing correlation between championship wins and ATS records has been observed. Most championship teams have had strong ATS percentages, with the majority finishing the year above 50%. Teams with ATS records over 60% have shown remarkable success in reaching the championship game or winning it all.

ATS Records of Final Four Teams:


Team ATS Percentage Year
Baylor 66.7% 2021
Gonzaga 53.3%  
Houston 64.5%  
UCA 56.3%  
Virginia 68.4% 2019
Texas Tech 54.0  
Michigan State 69.2%  
Auburn 60.5%  
Villanova 68.0% 2018
Michigan 52.0  
Kansas 44.0%  
Loyola-Chicago 48.0%  
UNC 55.6% 2017
Gonzaga 67.0%  
Oregon 59.5%  
South Carolina 50.0%  
Villanova 55.3% 2016
UNC 51.3%  
Oklahoma 40.0%  
Syracuse 55.6%  
Duke 63.2% 2015
Wisconsin 53.8%  
Michigan State 56.4%  
Kentucky 51.3%  
Connecticut 60.5% 2014
Kentucky 54.3%  
Florida 52.9%  
Wisconsin 56.8%  
Louisville 60.0% 2013
Michigan 54.0%  
Syracuse 55.6%  
Wichita State 58.8%  
Kentucky 42.1% 2012
Kansas 51.3%  
Ohio State 57.1%  
Louisville 63.9%  
Connecticut 65.7% 2011
Butler 58.8%  
Kentucky 50.0%  
VCU 46.2%  
Duke 62.2% 2010
Butler 47.4%  
Michigan State 41.7%  
West Virginia 46.6%  
UNC 47.2% 2009
Michigan State 61.8%  
Connecticut 50.0%  
Villanova 55.9%  
Kansas 60.5% 2008
Memphis 47.4%  
UCLA 58.3%  
UNC 66.7%



First-Time Champions Struggle 

Since 2000, only five out of 15 teams that reached the championship game for the first time managed to secure the title. Winning the first championship is challenging, with only 2002 Maryland and 2019 Virginia accomplishing it on their initial attempt.

First-Time Coaches Shine 

First-time coaches in the Final Four have displayed impressive performance. From 2005 to 2021, these coaches have achieved an 11-8 win-loss record straight up and an outstanding 12-6-1 record ATS.

Emphasis on Strong Offense 

Successful championship teams have often ranked highly in offensive efficiency. Since 2002, 12 national champions have placed within the top three in offensive efficiency, with only a few outliers. Even teams known for methodical, deliberate play styles can excel offensively.

Respectable Defense is Crucial 

While a potent offense is essential, a solid defense has proven equally vital. Since 2002, no national champion has had a defense ranked lower than 18th in the nation in efficiency. A balance between offensive prowess and defensive capabilities is key to championship success.

Incorporating these trends into your March Madness betting strategy can provide you with valuable insights to make more informed decisions. However, remember that sports outcomes can be unpredictable, and individual game scenarios can differ. Conduct thorough research and consider current team dynamics and performance when placing your bets.

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