Sweet Sixteen & Elite Eight Betting Trends

These are the latest Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight betting trends.

Key Points

– Understanding betting trends can help bettors in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.

– Teams seeded No. 1, 2, and 3 tend to win more NCAA championships.

Sweet Sixteen & Elite Eight Betting Trends

The NCAA Tournament is officially 76% finished by the time the Sweet Sixteen rolls around as 48 of the 63 games have already been played. 

When filling out your bracket, scoring systems value the later rounds more. You will need strong predictions for the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and beyond. Otherwise, you aren’t winning anything. 

Sweet 16 and Elite Eight Betting Trends for March Madness 

Recent trends can give you an advantage because they are the best predictors of future results. Here, we have compiled some of the top betting trends later in the tournament. 

These are trends that start with the NCAA’s expansion of the tournament to 64 teams in 1985. Keep in mind that just because a trend exists, that does not mean it will automatically continue.


A Top Seed Will Lose

All four No. 1 seeds have only made it to the Final Four once in the previous 36 years. That occurred in 2008.  Only four tournaments have seen three No. 1 seeds make it to the Final Four. 

That means there were no more than two No. 1 seeds in 30 of 36 Final Fours. This year’s Final Four will be no different. Two of the No. 1 seeds – Purdue and Kansas – have already been eliminated. 

The Curious Betting Trends of No. 1 Seed

No. 1 seeds are an interesting bunch in the NCAA tournament. Since 2014, #1 seeds have prevailed in 20 of their previous 25 Sweet Sixteen games. They don’t all make it, but when they do, they’ve won six straight tournaments with a near-perfect record. The only team to lose prior to last year was UNC in 2019. Last year, two top seeds – Arizona and Gonzaga – lost in the Sweet Sixteen.

In the Elite Eight, No. 1s have a difficult time advancing. They still have a winning record, but since 2012, only 14 No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four. During that time span, No. 1s have an overall record of 14-10 in the Elite Eight.

Top Seeds to the Final Four

There have been only two Final Fours – 2006 and 2011 – without a No. 1 seed. In reaching the Elite Eight, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds are pretty evenly matched when they meet for a regional title. In Elite Eight games all-time, No. 1s have 24 wins and No. 2s have 24 wins.

No. 2 seeds fare better than No. 3 seeds, especially in Sweet Sixteen matchups. Fans and bettors alike would think that these games would be evenly matched as well. However, in head-to-head No.2 versus No. 3 Sweet Sixteen matchups, No. 2s have a record of 30-17 overall.

Double Digit Seeds Betting Trends

No 12th-seeded team made the Sweet Sixteen this year. Princeton (No. 15) is the lowest-seeded team remaining. No. 12 seeds do very well in the first two rounds of the tournament. In the Sweet Sixteen, it’s not a time to back a mid-major against a major team.

In 22 overall games, No. 12 seeds are 2-20 in Sweet Sixteen games. When facing a No. 1 seed, they are 0-20. Ironically, the only two wins came in the 2002 NCAA tournament. Missouri and Oregon State both got favorable matchups against a No. 8 seed and won.

Underdogs by the Numbers

Be careful handicapping NCAA tournament Cinderella teams. Only three No. 6 seeds have ever made it to the Final Four. Kansas, a No. 6 in 1988, is the only sixth-seed to win a national championship. Creighton is the only remaining sixth-seed in the 2023 tournament. No team seeded sixth has won an Elite Eight game in the last 29 tournaments.

Since 2011, at least one team seeded No. 7 through No. 11 has advanced to the Final Four in all but two seasons (2012, 2019). Last year, it was No. 8 North Carolina.

In 2013, Wichita State became the only No. 9 seed to advance to the Final Four. Ninth-seeded teams actually do worse after the first round of the tournament than No. 8 seeds. Interestingly, the Selection Committee doesn’t distinguish between No. 8 and No. 9 until the locations of the games are determined.

Blue Bloods Win

Duke has reached the most Final Fours since 1985. The Blue Devils have played in 13. In their first year after Coach K, the Blue Devils were eliminated by Tennessee in their quest to get to a 14th Final Four. 

North Carolina has been to 12 Final Fours and UCLA has made 19 appearances since the NCAA tournament began in 1939. Only five of those trips have occurred since the tourney field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Kansas(10), Kentucky(8), Michigan State(7), Syracuse(5), Florida(5), Michigan(5), and UConn (5) are the only programs to reach the Final Four at least five times since ‘85.

Road Blocks

If you are a fan of BYU, Xavier, or Missouri; you have been agonizing for years. Those three programs have the most trips to the NCAA tournament without ever having played in a Final Four. 

Xavier, a No. 3 seed this year, is the only one of the three teams remaining in 2023. The Musketeers have been to March Madness 28 times. They advanced to the Elite Eight in 2017 but were beaten by eventual runner-up Gonzaga. 

As a No. 1 seed in 2018, Xavier didn’t make it out of the first weekend, losing in the second round.