Houston enters the NCAA tournament as the 6-1 betting favorite. The 6-1 odds are tied for the longest odds for a pretournament favorite since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The four No. 1 seeds are the top four betting favorites, though the West appears loaded. Four of the top nine favorites are all in the West.
It is the fourth time in that span the favorite has been at least +550. Two of the previous three times, one of the favorites won (Arkansas won at 7-1 in 1994; Villanova won as the +570 favorite in 2018). However, in 2014, Florida entered as the +550 favorite and we saw the biggest pretournament longshot cut down the nets since seeding began in 1979 (UConn: 95-1).
Houston entered the year tied for the third favorite behind Kentucky and North Carolina. Kentucky ended up getting a No. 6 seed while North Carolina didn't even make the tournament. Although Houston didn't enter the season as the favorite, it moved from 10-1 to 8-1 to become the betting favorite just one game into the season, and it never relinquished its position as the betting favorite.
Seven of the past 17 tournaments, the betting favorite has gone onto win it all (last: 2018 Villanova).
Twenty-two of the past 30 national champions had single-digit odds entering the tournament. The last team to have double-digit odds to win the NCAA tournament was Villanova in 2016. No. 1 seeds have won five straight titles and 12 of the past 15 titles.
Since seeding began in 1979, only two champions had longer than 30-1 odds (1985 Villanova and 2014 UConn), and only one team had longer than 40-1 odds (2014 UConn).
No. 5 seed Duke is down to 20-1 after winning the ACC tournament. That is the shortest odds of any team seeded 5th or lower in the last 15 NCAA tournaments.
UMBC is the only No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed, but the biggest upset in the 64-team era (since 1985) is by Norfolk State (+21.5) over Missouri in 2012.
Last year, Saint Peter's pulled off three straight upsets as at least eight-point underdogs, beating Kentucky in the round of 64 (+18.5), Murray State in the round of 32 (+8) and Purdue in the Sweet 16 (+13). The Purdue upset tied the largest upset after the first weekend.
Notable first-round lines
One double-digit seed is currently favored in its first-round matchup, as Utah State is a 1-point favorite over Missouri. It is the 11th time in the past 12 tournaments that at least one double-digit seed is favored in the round of 64 (only exception: 2019). Double-digit seeds that are favored in the round of 64 are 14-5 outright and 12-7 ATS in the previous 10 NCAA tournaments (2012-22).
Indiana is only a 4-point favorite over Kent State. No. 4 seeds favored by four or fewer points against No. 13 seeds are 1-3 outright since 2000.
Marquette is the smallest favorite for any No. 2 seed since 2015. Texas (-13.5) and Arizona (-14) are also relatively small favorites for 2-seeds. Overall, the four 2-seeds are favored by an average of 14.1 points, which is the smallest average spread for No. 2 seeds since 2006 (-12.9).
As for the No. 3 seeds, Kansas State is the smallest favorite, laying 8.5 points against Montana State. Since 2015, No. 3 seeds that are single-digit favorites are 2-5 ATS with three outright losses.
Seed matchup notes
1 vs. 16
No. 16 seeds are 1-147 all time against No.1 seeds. UMBC upset Virginia in 2018.
2 vs. 15
In the previous 10 tournaments (2012-22), No. 15 seeds are 6-34 outright against No. 2 seeds, including back-to-back years with an upset. Last year, Saint Peter's beat Kentucky and in 2021, Oral Roberts beat Ohio State. Saint Peter's reached the Elite Eight and Oral Roberts reached the Sweet 16.
3 vs. 14
No. 3 seeds are 8-4 ATS against No. 14 seeds over the past three tournaments.
In the previous five tournaments, No. 3 seeds are 19-1 outright against No. 14 seeds (only upset: 2021 Abilene Christian beat Texas).
4 vs. 13
No. 13 seeds are 12-4 ATS against No. 4 seeds over the past four tournaments.
Last year, all four No. 4 seeds won for the first time since 2017. From 2018-21, 4-seeds were just 7-5 outright.
5 vs. 12
Since 2013, No. 12 seeds are 22-13-1 ATS against No. 5 seeds (2-2 ATS in each of the past two seasons).
At least one No. 12 seed has won outright in the first round in 32 of the 37 seasons since the tournament expanded in 1985 (exceptions: 2018, 2015, 2007, 2000, 1988).
No. 12 seeds are 8-4 ATS and 6-6 outright in this round in the past three tournaments.
6 vs. 11
Since 2009, No. 11 seeds are 33-19 ATS against No. 6 seeds (27-25 outright).
Since 2016, No. 11 seeds are 14-10 outright and 16-8 ATS against 6-seeds.
At least one No. 11 seed has won a round of 64 game in 17 straight tournaments (last time without win: 2004).
Multiple 11 seeds have won a round of 64 game in 10 of the past 12 tournaments.
7 vs. 10
At least one 10 seed has won a round of 64 game in 14 straight tournaments (last time without win: 2007)
8 vs. 9
No. 9 seeds are 11-5 ATS in the past four tournaments against No. 8 seeds.
No. 9 seeds are 15-9 outright against No. 8 seeds in the past five tournaments.
ACC teams are 15-34 ATS in the round of 64 since 2015.
Big Ten teams are 45-29 ATS in the round of 64 since 2011.
The Mountain West is 0-7 ATS in the round of 64 in the past three tournaments. It is 7-19 ATS since 2011 and 3-12 ATS since 2014. Mountain West teams are 6-15 ATS as favorites in the round of 64 and 8-19 ATS as favorites in any round (12-15 outright). Mountain West favorites are 0-5 outright since 2018 in any round (0-4 in round of 64).
The MAC has covered six straight round of 64 games with three wins in the past four years. MAC teams are 17-7 ATS in the round of 64 since 1999.
ASUN teams are 6-2 ATS in the round of 64 since 2014 (0-2 ATS past two seasons).
Big Sky teams are 3-12 ATS in the first round since 2007, 2-9 ATS since 2011, and 1-6 ATS since 2015.
Horizon League teams are 2-7 ATS in the round of 64 since 2012.
Conference ATS over the past five tournaments
No. 1 seeds and No. 2 seeds ATS in opening games
Past five tournaments: 19-21 ATS (47.5%)
Past 10 tournaments: 38-42 ATS (47.5%)
Nos. 11-14 seeds straight up and ATS past 10 and past five
Past five tournaments: 43-34-1 ATS (55.8%)
Past 10 tournaments: 89-69-2 ATS (56.3%)
Big 12 ATS past five years and straight up
ATS: 44-38-1 (53.7%)
Outright: 53-30 (63.9%)
-- Kyle Soppe
Coaching notes (all for NCAA tournament)
Notable good coaches ATS
Andy Enfield (USC): 10-2 ATS (9-1 ATS as underdog)
Sean Miller (Xavier): 18-11-1 ATS (.621) (8-1 ATS as underdog)
Matt Painter (Purdue): 19-12 ATS (.613) (11-3 ATS in round of 64)
Jeff Capel (Pittsburgh): 5-2 ATS (4-0 ATS as favorite)
Johnny Jones (Texas Southern): 5-2 ATS
Penny Hardaway (Memphis): 2-0 ATS
Chris Jans (Mississippi State): 3-1 ATS
Notable bad coaches ATS
Jamie Dixon (TCU): 9-17 ATS (.346)
Rick Barnes (Tennessee): 19-29-1 ATS (.396) (16-25-1 ATS as favorite)
Eric Musselman (Arkansas): 4-8-1 ATS
Bobby Hurley (Arizona State): 1-3 ATS
Randy Bennett (Saint Mary's): 5-8 ATS (3-2 ATS as favorite, 2-6 ATS as underdog)
Bob Huggins (West Virginia): 27-18 ATS as favorite, 3-10-1 ATS as underdog.
Shaka Smart (Marquette) 1-6 ATS past seven games (started career 8-1 ATS).
1-3 ATS as favorite, 8-3 ATS as underdog, 0-1 as pick'em.
Fran McCaffery (Iowa): 7-4 ATS as underdog, 1-5 ATS as favorite.
Shaka Smart (Marquette) has lost six straight first-round matchups, including going 0-4 since he left VCU. He is 1-6 ATS in his past seven NCAA tournament games after starting his career 8-1 ATS in the NCAA tournament.
Best/worst ATS teams in field
Fifteen teams in the field have covered at least 60% of their games this season, led by Pittsburgh, which has the second-highest ATS mark in Division I.
Pittsburgh: 22-10-1 ATS (.688)
Florida Atlantic: 21-10-1 ATS (.677)
Kennesaw State: 21-10 ATS (.677)
Texas A&M: 23-11 ATS (.676)
Kent State: 20-10-2 ATS (.667)
Marquette: 22-12 ATS (.647)
Kansas State: 20-11-1 ATS (.645)
UC Santa Barbara: 20-11-1 ATS (.645)
UConn: 21-12 ATS (.636)
Utah State: 21-12-1 ATS (.636)
Nevada: 19-11-1 ATS (.633)
Maryland: 20-12-1 ATS (.625)
Penn State: 21-13-1 ATS (.618)
Montana State: 19-12-1 ATS (.613)
Vermont: 19-12-1 ATS (.613)
On the flip side, there is only one team in the field that has covered less than 60% of its games this season -- Purdue (13-20-1 ATS, .394).
Notable BPI values
Houston Cougars (No. 1 seed - Midwest)
+600 to win NCAA tournament (BPI chance: 31.6%)
-270 to reach Sweet 16 (BPI chance: 84.7%)
+130 to win Midwest Region (BPI chance: 58.1%)
Tennessee Volunteers (No. 4 seed - East)
25-1 to win NCAA tournament (BPI chance: 13.2%)
-130 to reach Sweet 16 (BPI chance: 76.0%)
+400 to win East Region (BPI chance: 41.7%)
10.5-point favorites vs. Louisiana (BPI line: 18.0)
Alabama Crimson Tide (No. 1 seed - South)
+700 to win NCAA tournament (BPI chance: 17.5%)
-260 to reach Sweet 16 (BPI chance: 79.7%)
+160 to win South Region (BPI chance: 49.9%)
UCLA Bruins (No. 2 seed - West)
+350 to win West Region (BPI chance: 38.7%)
-270 to reach Sweet 16 (BPI chance: 81.1%)
South Carolina heavy favorite on women's side
South Carolina is the fifth odds-on favorite to win the women's basketball championship in the past eight tournaments. The last two both lost as UConn failed to win in 2018 or 2017 as -600 and -450 favorites respectively.