Underdogs You Should Put in Your March Madness Betting List

Posted by Joe Solari on March 13, 2016 in

If you’re a devoted hoophead, you’ve probably spent the past several months digging through tons of data and getting familiar with the happenings in the college basketball lines. As you probably know, there are 351 teams in Division I of College Basketball this year, and most of these teams have had NCAAB odds published for every single game they’ve played so far–around 30 games by now. With such a vast amount of data to sieve through, there’s no way one can stay on top of everything, but you’ve at least gotten to know several top players and teams, along with a given number of betting trends.

Underdogs You Should Put in Your March Madness Betting List



And now that March Madness is just around the corner, it is time for you to profit from that knowledge, especially if you have been paying attention to the lowly upstart teams with solid betting potential in the NCAA Tournament, commonly known to you as Cinderella teams.

In NCAAB betting, there’s nothing more fun and profitable than a team that exceeds expectations based on their small background or low seeding. The problem, however, is that it is never easy to spot solid Cinderella teams, particularly in a mind-blowing season like the one we are having, where every conference and region is riddled with upsets. Fortunately for you, we have just the right characteristics for you to look out for when considering upstart teams in the 2016 March Madness betting lines and odds. Below we will show you how to identify such teams, and then—for good measure—give you a couple of upstart teams to consider in your March Madness NCAA Basketball picks.

Characteristics of Cinderella Teams in March Madness

Has an Exceptional Player: If you look at any at the history of the NCAA Tournament, you’ll find that almost every team that made an unexpected deep run in the tournament had at least one player that stood above the rest and rallied others towards success. Whether it’s through strong rebounding, scoring, assisting or a combination of either/all of such elements; that exceptional play acts as a cog that elevates the play of those around him. Mind you, the good form of that player can be permanent or momentary, so keep your eyes wide open for such players.

Good Coaching: This one is self-explanatory; good coaching often leads to wins. Take note that, by good coaching, we are referring to a tactically sound coach that has proven his ability to instill confidence in his team and tutor his players towards victory. Strong coaching doesn’t necessarily have to be a big-name guy, or someone with tons of experience.

Tons of Experience: The saying about Experience is the best Teacher holds true is college basketball as it does in pretty much every other aspect of life. Having a core of players that have played together for a while breeds familiarity and often allows the team to handle pressure in a better way than young college basketball squads. Teams that have players who have played in the Tournament before is an added plus, something that is affirmed by the fact that the majority of the top-performing teams in the country have a number of experienced players leading them. Experience in the Tournament also comes in the form of teams that frequently make it to March Madness, often paced by experienced players and coaches.

Team Depth: Injuries are part and parcel of the game, just in the same way the best of players can go out of form. In such instances, having a deep team, mainly a talented bench that is able to put in the work if need be, comes in very handy for the Cinderellas, as it enables them to consistently compete at a high level.

Strong Run Leading Up to The Tournament: Obviously, there is a silver lining to this characteristic, given that certain teams enter the tournament on a strong run on the basis of playing soft teams leading up to the March Madness. That said, teams that have a solid form in the weeks leading up to the NCAA Tournament often perform well in their respective conference tournaments and the Big Dance.

Has a Standout Style of Play: Again, this characteristic is not an absolute necessity, but it does go a long way to encourage efficiency and the potential to win. The majority of teams that have unexpected good runs in the NCAA Tournament tend to have a unique style of play that makes it difficult for opponents to adapt or play against them. This can range from simple aspects such as team formations in offense/defense to well-tailored executions in plays such as full-court press.

Mismatches and Weak Opponents: Owing to the disparities in strengths of schedules and conferences, along with the fact that the NCAAB lines are bound to come with unexpected wins and losses every year; a given number of weak opponents sometimes slip through the cracks and enter the NCAA Tournament. This sets opportunity for possible upsets by other serious/underrated contenders. In other occasions, mismatches and vulnerabilities pave the way for wins by upstart teams. For example, a strong offensive team going against a weak defensive team, or a strong rebounding team facing a weak one, sets up opportunities for exploitations (and upset wins) by Cinderella teams.

Upstart/Cinderella Picks for the 2016 March Madness

The list here can be very long, and in due course of the month, we will be highlighting as many Cinderella picks as possible. But for now, feel free to whet your betting appetite with the following upstart picks for the upcoming March Madness.

Monmouth Hawks (27-6, 17-3 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)

The Hawks were so happy about clinching the MAAC regular season title that they extended King Rice’s head-coaching contract for five years through 2021. And looking at their season thus far, you couldn’t agree more that Monmouth has been a real force. Outside their impressive conference play, the Hawks had two top-50 RPI teams in Notre Dame and USC, along with other quality wins against UCLA and Georgetown. And as far as exceptionality is concerned, the Hawks have a dynamic player in Justin Robinson, a 5’ 8” diminutive junior guard who is averaging 20 points per game. From the look of things, Monmouth has to win their conference tournament for a sure bid into the NCAA Tournament, something that looks highly likely. And should they get through as expected, you should be on the lookout for the Hawks as a potential No. 10 or No. 11 seed that can make a mess out of your bracket with upsets over favorable matchups against a No. 3 or No. 4 teams from Major Conference such as Baylor and California in the early NCAA Tournament rounds.

Dayton Flyers (24-6, 14-4 in Atlantic 10 Conference)

Besides the strong form they have entering the NCAA Tournament, the Flyers have been one of the most aggressive teams in the country, racking up some signature wins that have pushed up their RPI up to a respectable ranking in the top 30. Included in their résumé are top-75 RPI victories over Iowa, St. Bonaventure, Vandy, Monmouth, George Washington, Alabama, William & Mary and Davidson. In addition, Dayton’s starting roster is beefed up with experienced upper classmen who are able to measure up to any kind of opponents. At the moment, the Flyers are projected to be anywhere between a No. 5 and No. 7 seed. This doesn’t exactly spell for a potential upset in round one, but the strong seniors-led Flyers team should be more than capable of surprising its better seeded opponents starting from the second round.

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Colorado Buffaloes (21-10, 10-8 in Pac-12 Conference)

Like Dayton, Colorado is projected to be a No. 6 or No. 7 seed as of now, which—according to some bracketologists—means the Buffs could be on the end of a rude shock in the first round. Now,  whereas there is no way of telling what will happen when March Madness betting commences, I am strongly convinced that the Buffaloes could be a worthy upstart team, given most people will overlook them as a mid-major conference team. Don’t be too keen to jump on the bandwagon of Colorado doubters, this team is having a season for the ages, so going against them could blow up in your face big time. For starters, Colorado has already tied the school record for most regular season wins this year. As if that isn’t noteworthy enough, Colorado has quality and impressive top-35 RPI wins in Oregon, Cal, Arizona, and Oregon State, along with six more victories over teams in the RPI top-100. Additionally, Colorado is a well-coached team and the squad mostly constitutes of upper classmen in their starting five, led by 6’ 10” senior forward, Josh Scott, who is averaging over 16 points and 8 rebounds per game. And above everything, Colorado is 16-1 at home this year. With such a pedigree, Colorado should be able to at least get past the first two rounds of March Madness betting with ease.