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NCAA Tournament betting tips: Straight bets, KenPom and trends

Replete with buzzer beaters, bracket busters and giant killers, the first four days of the NCAA Tournament amount to an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride for bettors as the field is slashed from 64 to the Sweet 16.

Here are some betting tips, trends and odds and ends to consider to hopefully help you win a few bucks amid the madness:

Load up on apps, straight bets

Professional sports bettor Paul Stone and longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Ed Salmons offered the same advice: Sign up for at least three mobile apps and stick to straight bets over parlays.

“Since the books oftentimes offer different point spreads, it is paramount to be able to shop for the best number during the tournament,” said Stone (@paulstonesports). “The player betting at a single book is at a significant disadvantage.

“Also, having the ability to bet electronically on an app saves valuable time and allows the bettor to focus on researching games rather than spending a significant amount of time standing in long lines.”

Salmons said having at least three lines to choose from will make a difference during the weekend.

“It’s hard enough to win making bets. You have to have options,” he said. “I guarantee you that difference will turn a loser into a winner or a loser into a tie. It will be worth your while.”

Stone said gamblers should have a defined bankroll and pace themselves in other aspects of their tournament experience.

“I think most bettors would enjoy a better bottom line if they stick primarily to straight bets and mostly avoid parlays and other similar bets,” he said. “If your ultimate goal is to be profitable, I believe you should also have a game plan as far as how much you’re going to bet, drink and sleep.

“If you’re going to simply keep your foot on the gas for four straight days in all three phases, you might be better off buying a lottery ticket.”

Consult KenPom

VSiN host and handicapper Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1) recommends using numbers from the well-respected analytics site KenPom.com to pick the national champion.

Since 2002, when Ken Pomeroy started his rankings, every national champion but one (Connecticut in 2014) had an adjusted offensive efficiency ranking of 25 or better and a combined adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency ranking of 50 or better, Reynolds said.

Only seven teams this year fit that criteria: Houston (11 offense, 4 defense, 15 total), Alabama (19-3-22), Connecticut (6-18-24), UCLA (25-1-26), Texas (18-11-29), Purdue (7-26-33) and Arizona (4-41-45).

Three other teams have a combined total of 50 or less: Kansas (29-7-36), Creighton (28-15-43) and Saint Mary’s (40-9-49).

Fade giant killers

FoxSportsRadio host Bernie Fratto’s favorite tourney betting tip requires patience.

Since 2005, Fratto noted, double-digit underdogs have won outright on 21 occasions. However, in the following game, those same underdogs went 4-17 against the spread.

“There’s no guarantee we have that circumstance this year, but it’s likely it should happen at least once,” said Fratto (@BernieFratto). “Also, when filling out your bracket, resist the urge to pick four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four. That’s happened only once in the last 36 years, and it hasn’t happened since 2008.”

Top trends

WagerTalk’s Ralph Michaels (@CalSportsLV) shared some sizzling tourney trends, including one in which underdogs of 6½ points or more that are coming off three straight double-digit wins are 16-2 ATS since 2012.

That trend applies to Colgate (+13½) over Texas, Vermont (+11) over Marquette and Iona (+9) over Connecticut.

Another trend to remember is that teams that cover their first two tourney games went 22-2 to the under and 16-8 ATS in their third game.

The over is 8-1 in games with totals under 125. That applies to Virginia Commonwealth-Saint Mary’s (total of 123).

Finally, No. 1 seeds went 3-11 ATS last year, including 1-10 ATS in the first three rounds.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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