We Placed (Fake) Bets On Every March Madness Underdog, Here’s What We Won

Written By Paul Costanzo on March 14, 2023 - Last Updated on March 25, 2024
March Madness underdog

Without the triumph of underdogs, March Madness wouldn’t exist. Sure, the NCAA Tournament would still be a thing, but there would be no madness. It would just be March, um, basketball games.

So heading into the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, we decided to test the true power of underdogs. We tracked how much a bettor could win by placing a moneyline bet on every underdog in the tournament.

It turns out, quite a bit. We were only dealing with $10 hypothetical bets, but our tracker ended the tournament with a profit of $129.52.

That’s despite going 23-40 overall in the tournament. Thank you, Fairleigh Dickinson. And Princeton. And Florida Atlantic.

This exercise was similar to the Detroit Lions moneyline tracker we tried in the fall, and carried the same question: Even if you lose more than you win, could the bigger profits from those wins, outweigh your losses.

To see the full results, and how we went about this, keep reading.

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Picking underdogs in March Madness

For those just finding this article, these were the ground rules. First, I defined what constitutes an underdog when betting on March Madness.

I went with the betting underdog, which isn’t always the seeded underdog. We’re in Year 3 of legal online sports betting in Michigan, so I think we can make this distinction without much confusion.

The main reason for making this decision is that I was getting plus-odds on every matchup. It’s also hard to say “that was unexpected” when a team that was a -125 favorite comes away with a win. It was, in fact, expected, even if they were the 10 seed.

For tracking purposes, we went with a hypothetical $10 bet on each game. I listed the odds at the time the bet was made.

We also started with Thursday’s games, so no First Four games were included.

Full disclosure: I actually did this, but at $1 per bet. I also made my bets at SI Sportsbook MI for no other reason than that’s where I had money.

Read on to see how each round of the tournament went.

Betting the underdog in the men’s national title game

No matter what happens in Monday night’s final, this experiment was a successful one. But here’s what’s at stake in the last game.

  • San Diego State +290 vs. UConn — Lost $10

Final Four full of underdogs

An ending fitting of this article. This Final Four is full of teams that have helped the total. Now they meet each other. And UConn.

  • Florida Atlantic +110 vs. San Diego State — Lost $10
  • Miami +195 vs. UConn — Lost $10

Elite 8 underdogs

The Elite 8 is set after underdogs were 5-3 in the Sweet 16. That put us up $133.52 heading into that weekend.

Keep scrolling for results from the Sweet 16 and the opening rounds of the tournament.

  • Florida Atlantic +110 vs. Kansas State — Won $11
  • Gonzaga +110 vs. UConn — Lost $10
  • San Diego State +100 vs. Creighton — Won $10
  • Miami +150 vs. Texas — Won $15

Betting March Madness underdogs in the Sweet 16

We entered the second weekend up $74.02, thanks mainly to Fairleigh Dickinson and Princeton. For full results from the first weekend, keep scrolling.

Here’s what’s at stake in the Sweet 16:

  • Kansas State +100 vs. Michigan State — Won $10
  • Arkansas +140 vs. UConn — Lost $10
  • Florida Atlantic +195 vs. Tennessee — Won $19.50
  • Gonzaga +100 vs. UCLA — Won $10
  • San Diego State +250 vs. Alabama — Won $25
  • Miami +250 vs. Houston — Won $25
  • Princeton +375 vs. Creighton — Lost $10
  • Xavier +160 vs. Texas — Lost $10

Underdog results from the second round of the NCAA Tournament

Once again, all of these bets were placed at SI Sportsbook.

  • Furman +195 vs. San Diego State — Lost $10
  • Tennessee +130 vs. Duke — Won $13
  • Arkansas +150 vs. Kansas — Won $15
  • Princeton +230 vs. Missouri — Won $23
  • Auburn +195 vs. Houston — Lost $10
  • Penn State +195 vs. Texas — Lost $10
  • Northwestern +290 vs. UCLA — Lost $10
  • Maryland +290 vs. Alabama — Lost $10
  • Pittsburgh +180 vs. Xavier — Lost $10
  • Kansas State +100 vs. Kentucky — Won $10
  • Michigan State +130 vs. Marquette — Won $13
  • St. Mary’s +140 vs. UConn — Lost $10
  • Creighton -105 vs. Baylor — Won $9.52
  • Fairleigh Dickinson +550 vs. Florida Atlantic — Lost $10
  • Miami +100 vs. Indiana — Won $10
  • TCU +170 vs. Gonzaga — Lost $10

Underdogs got off to a hot start on Saturday, but finished 3-5 and UP $1.

On Sunday, underdogs were 4-4, although most of the games were fairly tight on the moneyline. Creighton even managed to be an underdog with -105 odds. That meant a profit of $2.52 despite the .500 record.

That puts the total at 15-33 and UP $74.02.

Betting on the first round of the NCAA Tournament

Each of these bets were placed Monday, March 13, at SI Sportsbook at the odds listed.

  • Maryland +120 vs. West Virginia — Won $12
  • Furman +195 vs. Virginia — Won $19.50
  • Missouri +100 vs. Utah State — Won $10
  • Howard +1400 vs. Kansas — Lost $10
  • Charleston +180 vs. San Diego State — Lost $10
  • Princeton +700 vs. Arizona — Won $70
  • Illinois +120 vs. Arkansas — Lost $10
  • Iowa +100 vs. Auburn — Lost $10
  • Oral Roberts +215 vs. Duke — Lost $10
  • Colgate +700 vs. Texas — Lost $10
  • Boise State +100 vs. Northwestern — Lost $10
  • Northern Kentucky +1400 vs. Houston — Lost $10
  • Louisiana +425 vs. Tennessee — Lost $10
  • Penn State +130 vs. Texas A&M — Won $13
  • UNC Asheville +1100 vs. UCLA — Lost $10
  • Texas A&M Corpus Christi +2500 vs. Alabama — Lost $10
  • USC +110 vs. Michigan State — Lost $10
  • Kennesaw State +475 vs. Xavier — Lost $10
  • UC Santa Barbara +475 vs. Baylor — Lost $10
  • VCU +150 vs. St. Mary’s — Lost $10
  • Vermont +475 vs. Marquette — Lost $10
  • Iona +325 vs. UConn — Lost $10
  • NC State +180 vs. Creighton — Lost $10
  • Providence +150 vs. Kentucky — Lost $10
  • Grand Canyon +900 vs. Gonzaga — Lost $10
  • Drake +120 vs. Miami — Best current odds: Drake Lost $10
  • Florida Atlantic +110 vs. Memphis — Won $11
  • Montana State +290 vs. Kansas State — Lost $10
  • Kent State +160 vs. Indiana — Lost $10
  • Pittsburgh +150 vs. Iowa State — Won $15
  • Fairleigh Dickinson +1600 vs. Purdue — Won $160
  • Arizona State +195 vs. TCU — Lost $10

After Thursday’s games, underdogs were 5-11 against the moneyline, but up thanks to Princeton’s win against Arizona.

On Friday, they fared worse overall, going 3-13. But Fairleigh Dickinson’s historic upset of Purdue would have cleared the profitability bar on its own.

Heading into the second round, underdogs were 8-24, but up $70.50.

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Paul Costanzo

Paul Costanzo is the managing editor of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. He has covered news and sports throughout the state at various media outlets over the past 20 years. Paul works with a talented team at PlayMichigan to provide the latest news and information on Michigan’s booming sports betting, online casino and online poker industries.

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