March Madness Bracket Pick Betting Trends: VCU, Butler Lead Way ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16:  Cody Ellis #24 of the St. Louis Billikens reacts during action against Butler Bulldogs in the second half during the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - Semifinals at the Barclays Center on March 16, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
Jason Szenes/Getty Images

When you think of March Madness success, you think Kansas, Kentucky and Duke.

When you think of March Madness wagering success, you think Virginia Commonwealth and Butler.

Making bracket picks is much different than making bracket bets, and it’s usually under-hyped Mid-Major schools that offer the best value, said Jack Randall, a basketball analyst interviewed this morning at

“Everybody knows Duke and North Carolina, and they love to bet on them regardless of the point spread, but not everyone knows about these very good teams from smaller conferences that get much less media attention,” said Randall.

“The result is that they sneak up on people and savvy bettors get great line value on them. It’s how Xavier became by far the best betting pick in recent March Madness odds history.”

Indeed, Xavier reeled off the greatest stretch of tournament point spread covers in history. The Musketeers missed out on the Madness this year with a loss in the Atlantic 10 conference, but in 21 recent tournament games, they went 18-2-1 ATS.

Without Xavier, the torch was passed to VCU and Butler as the best betting options (from a historical perspective anyway).

Virginia Commonwealth is 11-1 ATS in its past 12 bracket games. But after years of playing the underdog role, the Rams are favored as the No. 5 seed against Akron. The 5 seed presents additional challenges for VCU as 12 seeds are a perennial threat to the bracket safety of fifth-seeded schools.

Butler is a No. 6 seed in 2013 and has managed to parlay a low seed to consecutive national title games. Along the way, the Bulldogs have run up a 9-1 ATS mark in tournament.

Is Saint Louis the heir apparent to this spread-betting throne? The Billikens hit the tournament on a dominant run against the spread. The fourth seed in the Midwest bracket is 15-1 ATS in its past 16 games overall and 17-3 ATS in 20 games as a favorite.

They have played just five tournament games since 1998, but they are 4-1 ATS. Up next is New Mexico State, losers of six consecutive tournament games dating back to 1993.

First round locks?

Last year, a pair of 15 seeds dumped highly regarded No. 2 schools, proving there are no locks for bracket contestants or Vegas bettors.

But Indiana has been pretty close in the opening round. The Hoosiers boast a 6-1 ATS mark the past seven times they have played in the tournament. They await the winner of the LIU/JMU First Four game.

Check out more March Madness tournament trends below, courtesy of the Odds Shark NCAA basketball database.

Florida 9-3 ATS past 12 tournament games

Davidson 6-2 ATS past 8 Madness games

Gonzaga OVER is 8-2 past 10 tournament games

Indiana 6-1 ATS past 7 first-round games

Louisville 4-0-1 ATS last year in Madness

Memphis OVER is 10-2 past 12 tournament games

Missouri OVER is 12-2-1 past 15 tournament games

Missouri 1-4 ATS past 5 tournament games

Notre Dame UNDER is 8-1-1 past 10 tournament games

UNLV 0-4 SU & ATS in tournament since 2008

Wisconsin 5-1 ATS past 6 first-round games

Valpo is 0-4 SU & ATS since 1999, losing by average 77-53

Arizona 11-4 ATS past 15 tournament games

Minnesota 0-5 SU & ATS since 1997

NC State 6-2 ATS in tournament since 2005

Illinois has alternated ATS wins and losses past 10 games (win is due)

Miami played 7 straight tournament OVERs


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