March Madness 2023 First & Second Round Betting Trends

March Madness 2023 First & Second Round Betting Trends

There is nothing quite like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which is aptly nicknamed March Madness because of how wild the results can be and how fast the games come and go.

There will be 64 teams vying for the championship, so it can be a little overwhelming when surfing betting sites and betting apps looking for value. Lucky for you, we’ve identified a few important betting trends to allow you to do some safe betting in the early rounds and pick a solid bracket.


  • Bettors should be aware of adjusted defensive efficiency rankings
  • Consider No. 12 seeds when looking at possible First Round upsets
  • Bet on No. 1 seeds in the First And Second Round

2023 NCAA March Madness Tournament Betting Trends 

For bettors looking to find a competitive advantage in all of the chaos of March Madness, we’ve taken the time to scour available resources for a few reliable trends bettors can use to find value.

Odds are provided by Sports Interaction.

No. 11 And No. 12 Seeds Love An Upset

Seeding trends are not the end all be all of March Madness betting to be followed blindly, but they’re definitely useful in starting the tournament off on the right foot. Since 2011, No. 11 seeds are 25-23 against No. 6 seeds in the First Round. In last year’s tournament, three of the four No. 11 seeds won in the First Round, with two of those reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

Since 2012, No. 12 seeds have gone 19-21 straight up and 24-15-1 against the spread and over the past three tournaments they have gone 6-6 straight up and 8-4 against the spread. Moneyline odds for first round matchups for No. 12 VCU (+154) and No. 12 Oral Roberts (+232 odds) are certainly worth a look, especially after the latter made a Sweet Sixteen run in 2021 as a No. 15 seed.

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Whether or not you believe in the maxim “defense wins championships,” you can’t argue with the numbers. Ever since Ken Pomeroy introduced the adjusted defensive efficiency stat, it has been a great marker for NCAA tournament success. The stat is calculated by points allowed per 100 possessions, multiplied by the national average for defensive efficiency, divided by the opponents’ offensive efficiency.

In the past 10 tournaments, only three of the 40 teams to make the Final Four have ranked outside the top 40 in adjusted defensive efficiency, which is one of the starkest trends you’ll find. This is a trend that should be used more to weed out the top teams that are not in the top 40. For the 2023 tournament, some notable teams outside that threshold include No. 2 seeds Arizona and Marquette, No. 3 seeds Gonzaga, Baylor, and Xavier, and No. 4 seed Indiana.

No. 1 Seeds Are Money In the First Two Rounds

Kansas is the only No. 1 seed with a spread of 20+ points, which means First Round spreads for Houston, Purdue, and Alabama should all be seriously considered. No. 1 seeds have only lost once to No. 16 seeds in the tournament’s history, and they also have an 86 percent win rate in the Second Round as well. 

Stop At One Upset Per Team

Upsets happen all the time in the NCAA tournament, especially in the first weekend of action. That being said, since 2005 teams that complete an upset as a double-digit underdog are just 3-17 straight up and 5-15 against the spread in their following game.

Watch The First Four

Since the First Four was established in 2011, at least one of the four teams to emerge from that preliminary bracket has won their First Round matchup every year except for 2019. In 2021, UCLA went all the way to the Final Four after beginning the tournament in the First Four. The winners of the matchups between Mississippi State-Pittsburgh and Arizona State-Nevada are solid choices to advance to the Second Round based on this trend and their first round matchup.

The Curious Case Of The No. 10 Seed

While the No. 7 versus No. 10 matchup in the First Round may seem like a tight matchup, No. 7 seeds have actually won convincingly at a 60.8 percent clip all-time, which means betting on moneyline odds for No. 7 Michigan State (-131 odds), Northwestern (-135), and Texas A&M (-156) are worth a look.

However, if No. 10 seeds do win in the first round, as Utah State very well could, considering they are actually favorites in their First Round matchup against No. 7 Missouri, they win at about a 42 percent clip in the Round of 32. No. 10 seeds don’t often win their opening game, but when they do, they have a great chance of reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

Gonzaga Is A Shoo-In For Sweet Sixteen

For the fifth year on the bounce, the Bulldogs are the nation’s highest scoring team, and that potent offense has meant consistent tournament success in recent years. While this is certainly not their best roster in that span, it’s still very solid, and considering they’ve made the Sweet Sixteen in seven straight tournaments, their -160 odds to make it there again are offering a ton of value right now.

Alex is a recent graduate of Ryerson's Sport Media program in 2019 and has been contributing to BettingTop10 since 2020. He has worked in the field of sports and sports betting for several years, including writing for theScore and daily fantasy sports website FantasyPros as one of their lead NBA news writers. A dedicated sports fan and experienced sports bettor, Alex has the knowledge to provide you with the best betting advice and the sneakiest props no matter what the sport may be.