An Updated Look At NCAA Tournament Title Odds For Mid-Majors

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Betting website Bovada.lv recently released an update on their projected tournament winner odds for everyone they currently project to make the tournament, as well as everyone they had projected to make the tournament as of January 7th. We slightly disagree with their choices.

I understand that not every betting website creates odds equally, but they generally tend to be within shouting distance of each other. That said, we were recently given Bovada's updated and lengthy list of team's odds of winning the NCAA tournament. I'd like to take a few minutes to discuss how much this list sucks.

Problem #1 - The Teams On The List

I understand including mid-major teams in your odds-making in order to give people a variety of teams to choose from, but couldn't we do a little bit better than mere perceived variety? I initially saw the list and said "hey, this is pretty cool. There are 18 mid-major teams on this list." Then I did a double take, because look at the list:

Wichita State, Davidson, Harvard, Gonzaga, BYU, Saint Mary's, Saint Louis, Virginia Commonwealth, Richmond, Massachusetts, George Mason, Dayton, St. Bonaventure, La Salle, Rhode Island, Fordham, George Washington.

That's a slight rearranging from how they appeared in the table, but come on! That original list consisted of, honestly, the mid-majors that everyone knows from the past decade - the Shockers and Zags, Davidson, BYU, Saint Mary's, and Harvard - and the entire Atlantic 10 conference.

Although granted, since the A10 themselves have complained to us for including them on our site, I guess that could technically be seen as only six, but that sure leaves a lot to be desired.

Problem #2 - The Teams Off The List

This wouldn't be so irritating if it weren't for the teams that were left off in their stead. As a prime example, Stephen F. Austin, who had won 10 games in a row when the list happened, and was 13-2 overall. A team that went to the tournament as recently as 2009 and has very nearly returned more than once since then.

What about Florida Gulf Coast, who was only 9-7 at the time, but had multiple players back from a good tournament team the previous year? Or perhaps 11-3 Green Bay, with some experience on their side? Or a 12-2 Toledo team that looked poised to run the table in the MAC and had just recently pushed Kansas all night?

Additionally, the only team on Thursday's list that wasn't there before was Southern Methodist. While it's definitely true that the Fightin' Larry Browns have earned such a distinction, they aren't the only ones. Again I point to Stephen F. Austin, which has pushed that win streak to 21 and counting now.

Problem #3 - The Odds On The List

I'm not sure why it is that the entirety of the Atlantic 10 Conference appears on this list and only three other mid-major conferences receive any representation at all. Perhaps it has something to do with that first list coming out two days prior to the start of Atlantic 10 Conference play, before anyone could see how ridiculous it was to be giving any odds at all to the bottom of the A10.

Particularly, how do you give 500-to-1 odds to a 7-7 George Mason team that had lost five of their last seven games? And sure Davidson's 2,000-to-1 odds are long, but why are they even there to begin with when they were 5-10 at the time and heading into the not-exactly-overwhelming Southern Conference schedule? (Both are now off the board)

I know that odds-makers do this in order to encourage betting, but wouldn't it be smart to provide odds, no matter how long, to teams that even realistically have a shot at winning games in conference, let alone a game in the tournament, let alone the whole dame thing?

If you can find it worthwhile, from a gambling standpoint, to give 1,000-to-1 or better odds of winning the NCAA Tournament to the entire A10 before conference play even started, then surely you can give those kinds of odds to the teams projected to be the very best in their conference? Robert Morris, Belmont and Mercer are at least deserving of that kind of consideration.

This is perhaps some measure of proof that it is rather dumb to do any wagering on the NCAA Tournament outcome until you actually know for sure who will be in it. That said, at 14-1 odds, I will absolutely not hesitate to be placing some dollars on Wichita State when the time comes to start filling out my brackets.

Here is the complete list of mid-major odds both present and past:

Team Jan. Odds Current Odds
Wichita State 28-1 14-1
Saint Louis 100-1 40-1
VCU 66-1 75-1
Gonzaga 66-1 100-1
UMass 100-1 150-1
George Washington 200-1 200-1
Harvard 200-1 250-1
BYU 500-1 Off the board
Davidson 2000-1 Off the board
Dayton 250-1 Off the board
Fordham 1000-1 Off the board
George Mason 500-1 Off the board
La Salle 1000-1 Off the board
Rhode Island 1000-1 Off the board
Richmond 1000-1 Off the board
St. Bonaventure 1000-1 Off the board
St. Joseph's 1000-1 Off the board
St. Mary's 300-1 Off the board

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