The 5 Worst Teams to Bet in March Madness Against the Spread

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin
Mick Cronin and the Cincinnati Bearcats have been getting crushed against the spread this season. Photo by Twitter user @SN_ncaab
  • The 2019 NCAA Tournament begins Tuesday
  • Northern Kentucky had the worst record ATS among the 68 qualifiers
  • See the five teams that would have lost bettors the most money in 2018-19

March Madness is finally here, and while it’s important to know which teams perform well against the spread, it’s even more important to know which teams perform poorly.

Wagering on college basketball can be volatile because you’re putting your faith in college students who, by nature, are unpredictable.

Certain programs have better track records than others, but if you blindly bet these five teams for the duration of the season, chances are you don’t have much money left to wager on the NCAA Tournament.

Here are the five tournament teams that would have lost college basketball bettors the most money in 2018-19.

5) Ohio State Buckeyes ATS

  • $100 each game = -$626
  • -6.26 Units in 2018-19

The Buckeyes began the season on a tear, reeling off 12 wins in their first 13 games, and posting a 7-6 mark against the spread.  Once conference play started, however, they fell off a cliff.  They started 0-5 in Big Ten play, and finished 8-12 with a dismal 7-13 ATS mark.

They did manage to cover both of their Big Ten tournament games, but they’ll need a major boost in offensive production if they want to make any noise in this year’s NCAA tournament.  The Buckeyes rank 78th in offensive efficiency are a 6.5-point underdog against Iowa State in the First Round.

4) Iona Gaels ATS

  • $100 each game = -$717
  • -7.17 Units in 2018-19

The MAAC champs started the 2018-19 campaign about as bad as you could.  The Gaels were 5-17 against the spread on February 10th, before closing the season on a 10-game winning streak, that included an 8-2 ATS mark.

They’re one of the tournament’s lowest-rated teams, ranking 132nd in offensive efficiency and 275th in defensive efficiency at KenPom.  They’re a heavy underdog for a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, getting 24 points from a North Carolina team that was 21-9-3 ATS this season.

3) Cincinnati Bearcats ATS

  • $100 each game = – $726
  • -7.26 Units in 2018-19

The American Athletic Conference champs had an impressive 28-6 overall record in 2018-19, yet were just 14-20 against the spread.

Known for their defense and toughness, the Bearcats grinded out the majority of their wins this season, and were unable to cover most of the double-digit spreads they were assigned, due to the slow-pace style Mick Cronin favors.

They have an average point differential of +9.4 and are 3.5-point favorites over Iowa in the First Round.

2) Iowa Hawkeyes ATS

  • $100 each game = -$817
  • -8.17 Units in 2018-19

Speaking of Iowa, they’re one of only two tournament teams that were worse ATS than Cincinnati this season. The Hawkeyes covered only three of their final 14 games, and lack the necessary grit and experience it takes to close out tight games.

They rank 15th in the nation in offensive efficiency, but 122nd in defensive efficiency.  They were exposed in Big Ten play this season, finishing at or near the bottom of nearly every major defensive category.

1) Northern Kentucky Norse ATS

  • $100 each game = -$908
  • -9.08 Units in 2018-19

You would think that there would be plenty of easy victories in the Horizon League, yet despite finishing with a 26-8 record and a conference title, no team in this year’s tournament was worse ATS than Northern Kentucky.

They covered just 12 games all season, and their lone cover as an underdog came in the conference final against Wright State.

They are KenPom’s 102nd-ranked team, and have embarrassing losses to 238th-ranked Eastern Kentucky and 284th-ranked Cleveland State on their resume.  They’re a 14-point underdog in the First Round against Texas Tech, the most efficient defensive team in the nation.

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