Handicapping the NCAA Tournament
Marc Lawrence
Posted: 2018-03-06

To go into the March Madness tourney without being armed with my database would be like going to war and not being armed.

There is a reason that Winston Churchill said, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

By learning failures and successes from the past, and applying skills from today we become better, well-rounded handicappers. Yes, teams change but strategies and patterns are highly predictive. And that especially holds true with coaches. Their personalities and traits are reflective on a team's measure of success on the court.

And speaking of coaches, the fact that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is 12-3 SU and 11-4 ATS in NCAA tourney games form the Final Four on out, or that North Carolina head coach Roy Williams is 26-0 SU in first-round NCAA tourney games in his career, would certainly give one pause before stepping in front of their teams in these restive roles throughout the tournament.

The bottom line is each team is like an engine. Some come in firing on all cylinders, others not. In essence the oddsmakers are the mechanics, evaluating teams that are either performing at peak levels or out of synch. Our job is to handicap the line he puts out not to second-guess the line.

By relying on past patterns we can better anticipate expectancy. Example: teams that have been favored in their first NCAA tourney game who won their conference tourney championship game as an underdog have had a difficult time with the role change, especially when facing an opponent coming off a win, going just 7-16-1 ATS - including 1-10-1 ATS as double digit favorites. Knowing patterns like this can help you avoid minefields. And by applying them to current form we become better well-rounder handicappers.

Best of luck in this year's Big Dance.

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