For major television networks, thousands of gambling sites, and many satisfied gamblers, the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, AKA March Madness, went off without a real hitch. While there were the few proverbial upsets, and some great games that will go down in lure as some of the best to be played, it was basically just another successful year for the world’s biggest collegiate-level sporting tournament. Only since we’re experiencing more direct marketing and more media buzz every year since around 2003, this year’s March Madness was bigger in many ways: TV commercial spots, sports shows carrying coverage, social media exposure, etc.
Throw in Warren Buffet’s billion-dollar bracket challenge, and more people paid attention to this year’s tournament than ever before. Understanding how this year’s bracket played out might give one a better understanding about how to bet and what to expect going forward. So, without any more preamble, let’s get into the meat of this year’s freshly-finished March Madness.
As we see every year, with 64 teams playing in the NCAAB tournament, there are always a few upsets that really catch people off guard. For fans, these upsets are very exciting to watch and make March Madness worthy of focusing on; though for people who like to bet favorites, upset games are heartbreaking and result in lost funds. The first big surprise was number-seven Wichita State beating number-two Kansas. Not that a 7 vs. 2 is such a disparity to call upset, but most had Kansas penciled in for facing off against Kentucky in the Elite Eight. Wichita State threw the dampers on that quickly. Not to be outdone, the surprise team of the tournament, Michigan State, knocked out UVA in the same round in the other side of the bracket.
The biggest upset of this year, however, was the Kentucky Wildcats losing a very highly contested game to the Wisconsin Badgers. While both teams were #1s in their respective brackets, Kentucky had amassed a regular season record of 36-0, seeking to become the first team in decades to win the championship with an undefeated record. After Kentucky’s slim two-point victory over #3 Notre Dame the game before, Wisconsin had renewed confidence entering the match, sure that the Wildcats were not immortal. Marked as the biggest upset in the last decade, Wisconsin’s win really shook things up.
A Gambler’s Paradise
While some gamblers might end up getting hit with a bad upset loss occasionally, betting on the March Madness tournament is truly a gambler’s paradise. It’s almost impossible to say how much money is exchanged during the tournament because of so many outlets, but estimating it as north of $10 billion is fairly safe. In paid brackets alone, where people aren’t betting game-to-game but are rather trying to perfectly predict the entire tournament, fans spend $3 billion. And it is estimated that per gambling sites, live hubs like AC and Vegas, etc, that number more than doubles. Plus you have to include all the wagers regular folks make between friends, at work, through social networking sites, etc. $10 billion is most likely a low-ball estimate. Needless to say, March Madness is a great time of the year for a gambler.
On the first day alone, there are 16 games to bet on. And up until the Final Four, you will always have at least four games to spread your wagers out over. Betting point spreads, O/U, straight wins, proposition bets, etc – there are dozens of different ways to approach March Madness.
How the Final Four Played Out
Barring a few upsets, the Final Four played out just as many predicted. Even we, your humble online gambling resource, hit three out of four Final Four teams with our in-house prediction. The Final Four played out with Kentucky vs. Wisconsin, and Michigan State vs. Duke. The Blue Devils, led by Coach K, dismantled the Spartans, beating them by 20 points, 81-61. Seeing as the Spartans had rolled through Georgia and UVA en route to Duke, no one expected them to get blown out of the water like they did. Anyone taking Duke to cover did well, as they were favorites, but the action was about even with many taking the Spartans to cover. On the other side of the bracket, Wisconsin and Kentucky fought it out until the final 30 seconds, when the Badgers pulled away. The vast majority of the action was on Kentucky, but those who took the upset were well rewarded.
In the championship game, Wisconsin and Duke battled it out in an instant classic game that saw dozens of lead changes, tons of action, and Duke’s freshman squad come to life in a very unexpected way, scoring every second-half point for the Blue Devils. Duke pulled it out and won by 5, after Wisconsin’s shooting went cold late, and Coach K won his 5th National Championship.