When it comes to get-rich-quick schemes, we’ve heard worse ideas than investing in the Mercers, Stephen F. Austins and Middle Tennessee States of the world.
Still, this is a crazy fact: Had you owned the foresight to bet the money line on every 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 seed in the first round the last five NCAA tournaments, you would’ve earned a 52.4 percent return on your money.
That’s according to Bet Labs Sports, an online database for those who enjoy placing a wager on sporting events from time to time.
Over the last 5 seasons, betting $100 on the moneyline of every 11, 12, 13, 14, & 15-seed in the first round would have won over $5200. pic.twitter.com/lo5qwrQgMN
— Bet Labs Sports (@Bet_Labs) March 13, 2017
Teams seeded 11 to 15 have gone 32-68 in the last five opening rounds. That may not seem like a good record to the lay person, but it was more than enough to reward anyone who consistently played the money line, which rewards people who bet on the underdog.
Typically used in baseball and hockey, basketball moneylines are popular in Las Vegas for picking underdogs. The team you choose only has to win the game, not win by a certain number of points. The negative value still indicates the favorite (-150) and the positive value indicates the underdog (+130). It’s easiest to picture the number 100 sitting in the middle of these two values. For example, if you want to pick a -150 favorite, you would risk $150 in order to win $100. On the underdog, you would risk $100 and win $130 if the underdog wins. It’s a simple way to have the risk-reward scenario.
A tournament like March Madness not only features big underdogs, it also features big upsets. And when those upsets come in, they pay off at multiples of your original bet, theoretically covering your losses and then some. For example, anyone who bet on Mercer to beat Duke in 2014 received $800 if they bet $100 on a money line of +800.
The key, of course, was not only being consistent but also having those big seeds actually win. And the last five years have been fruitful for double-digit seeds. Four of the eight 15 vs. 2 upsets in NCAA tournament history have occurred since 2012 but there was an 11-year drought before that run. Five of the 21 upsets that featured a 14 beating a 3 have come in the last five years but there were only three between 2000-2010.
Last year was a particularly bountiful year as eight teams seeded between 11 and 15 won their opening round games. (Since no No. 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1 it doesn’t make sense to waste money chasing the big payoff on those sizable money lines.)
So would we recommend starting this strategy in 2017? Well, The Dagger likes to remain neutral on all matters of gambling advice and would never advise one way or the other. The minute we do so is the minute the chalk prevails in these matchups.
But unlike other forms of multi-year investing, this one involves watching plenty of college basketball and rooting for some of the biggest names in the sport to lose. If you have some expendable income and some time on your hands, it sounds like a fun way to roll the dice.
More on Yahoo Sports:
• Breaking down the NCAA tourney’s toughest region
• Tim Brown: The best comeback story of spring training
• NASCAR star Kyle Busch attacks ex-teammate after collision
• Pat Forde: Everything you need to know about the NCAA tourney