2021 NCAA Tournament: An ATS Review of the First Four Rounds

by Al McMordie

Saturday, Apr 03, 2021
The 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament has been the most predictable, and least predictable at the same time.  On the most predictable end of things, it is no surprise that the two best teams - Gonzaga and Baylor - are in the Final Four, and rank as the favorites to be playing on Monday in the championship game.  On the least predictable side of things, this tournament has had 14 upsets by a team seeded at least 5 spots worse than its opponent, which is the most such upsets in the history of the tournament.  Likewise, this tournament has had the most wins by teams seeded 10 (or worse), as there have been 16 (not including the four "First Four" games).

One of those double-digit seeds, #11 UCLA, has reached the Final Four, along with #1 seeds Gonzaga and Baylor, and #2 seed Houston.

Let's take a look at first four rounds of this tournament, from a point spread perspective.  We'll not include the First Four games in this analysis.  And the other thing to take note of is that the 1st round game between #7 Oregon and #10 VCU was cancelled due to COVID-19, so there have been 59 games played, rather than the usual 60.

Notwithstanding the fact that the double-digit seeds have done well, underdogs have only gone 30-29 ATS in this tournament, overall (34-29 ATS if you include the First Four games).  Here is a breakdown by seeds:

#1 seeds:  12-2 SU, 10-4 ATS
#2 seeds: 7-3 SU, 3-7 ATS
#3 seeds: 5-4 SU, 3-6 ATS
#4 seeds: 3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS
#5 seeds: 5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS
#6 seeds: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS
#7 seeds: 2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS
#8 seeds: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS
#9 seeds: 1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS
#10 seeds: 2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS
#11 seeds: 6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS
#12 seeds: 3-4 SU, 5-2 ATS
#13 seeds: 2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS
#14 seeds: 1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS
#15 seeds: 2-4 SU, 5-1 ATS
#16 seeds: 0-4 SU, 2-2 ATS

And here is a breakdown of point spread ranges:

Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  7-6 ATS
Underdogs +4 to +7.5:  10-15 ATS
Underdogs +8 to +11.5:  8-2 ATS
Underdogs of +12 or more:  5-6 ATS

The games have tended to go under the total, as the unders are 34-24-1 through the first four rounds (37-25-1 if you include the "First Four games).

Let's take a look at some other point spread situations:

Teams that won their conference tournament (against foes that didn't win their conference tournament):  17-12 ATS
Teams off a straight-up loss (against foes not off a loss):  9-9 ATS
Teams off back-to-back losses (against foes not off back-to-back losses):  3-0 ATS
Teams off ATS loss (against foes not off an ATS loss):  12-11 ATS
Teams off back-to-back-ATS losses (against foes not off back-to-back ATS losses):  10-3 ATS
Teams off back-to-back ATS wins (against foes not off back-to-back ATS wins): 20-13 ATS
Teams off 3 SU/ATS wins (against foes not off 3 SU/ATS wins):  15-7 ATS
Teams playing with revenge:  2-3 ATS

Good luck, as always...
Al McMordie


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