The NCAA tournament is finally here.
While you’re about to fill in your bracket, look for every edge you can find to make the right choice. This also applies to weather.
March Madness is one of the biggest gambling events on the sports calendar and you need all the information available to make informed bets. Valuable context can be how head coaches behaved against dispersion during the tournament.
Which coaches did well against the spread in the NCAA tournament? Whose teams tend to exceed or fall short of the total? We’ve covered March Madness’ top trainers and trends here.
Now it’s time for a deep dive into the trainers that have been untrustworthy for bettors – trainers whose teams you should avoid.
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Rick Barnes, Tennessee
Rick Barnes will be making his 27th NCAA tournament appearance this week. Barnes, now in his eighth season at Tennessee, also brought Providence, Clemson and Texas to the tournament but he didn’t have much success.
Of all those tournament appearances, Barnes has only made it past the sweet 16 three times. He lost four times in the Sweet 16, twice in the Elite Eight, and made the Final Four just once in 2003. All other tournament appearances have resulted in either a first-round elimination or a loss in the round of 32, including last year when Tennessee was a No. 3 seed and lost to Michigan by 11 seeds.
The Longhorns really struggled late in the season of Barnes’ career in Texas. In their last seven NCAA tournament games under Barnes, the Longhorns are 2-5 straight and 0-6-1 against the spread.
Barnes was fired from Texas after the 2015 season and from a betting perspective, he wasn’t faring much better in Tennessee. The Vols are 2-6 against the spread under Barnes in the tournament. That means his ATS record in his last 15 NCAA tournament games (since 2010) is 2-12-1. whoops
Overall, Barnes has a combined ATS record of 16-25-2 during his time in Texas and Tennessee. His first-round numbers aren’t great either. In Texas and Tennessee, Barnes has a combined 8-11-1 ATS record in Round 1.
Tennessee is No. 4 in the East and meets No. 13 Louisiana on Thursday. The Vols are favored at BetMGM with 11.5 points. Attention buyers.
Jamie Dixon, TCU
Jamie Dixon, now in his seventh season at TCU, is making his third NCAA tournament appearance with the Horned Frogs. Before that, he coached Pittsburgh eleven times for the tournament.
The deepest run Dixon had at Pitt was the 2009 Elite Eight. That being said, there were two losses in the Sweet 16 and a string of early-round exits.
Dixon has a 13-13 straight up in NCAA tournament play, but only 9-17 against the spread. At Pitt, Dixon’s teams were 7-16 ATS, so he actually managed to cover the span in two of the three tournament games he coaches at TCU. TCU blew out Seton Hall 69-42 as a 1.5-point favorite in the first round last year and then covered in the second round as a 10-point underdog against Arizona, losing 85-80.
Will that luck carry over to this year’s tournament? Dixon’s story suggests this is unlikely.
Tony Bennett, Virginia
It could be argued that Virginia head coach Tony Bennett is best known for two things: he coached Virginia to a national championship, and he coached Virginia when it became the first No. 1 to win in NCAA history No. 16 lost tournament.
Those two historic moments happened in back-to-back seasons — 2018 and 2019. Since then, Virginia has had a first-round exit and a NIT appearance. This year, the Cavaliers are No. 4 in the South with a first-round matchup with No. 13 Furman.
Virginia is only favored with 5.5 points. You might want to stay away.
Under Bennett, Virginia is 7-13 against the spread in tournament play. That includes a low 1-7 ATS record in the first round. Virginia was favored in all but one of these first-round games, resulting in a 1-6 ATS mark.
Fran McCaffery, Iowa
Betting the over in Iowa’s NCAA tournament games coached by Fran McCaffery was a profitable endeavor. But betting on McCaffery’s Hawkeyes to cover the range hasn’t gone well.
In 10 NCAA tournament games coached by McCaffery, Iowa is 3-7 against the spread. That includes last season’s first-round upset against Richmond in a 5-on-12 matchup. After winning the Big Ten tournament, the Hawkeyes were favored over the Spiders by 9.5 points. They lost 67-63.
This year, Iowa is the No. 8 in the Midwest and a slight underdog — 1.5 points on BetMGM — to No. 9 Auburn.
Greg McDermott, Creighton
Creighton has struggled to cover the spread in NCAA tournament games under coach Greg McDermott. The Blue Jays played in both games last season, and that improved McDermott’s ATS record to 5-8 in tournament play in Creighton.
Creighton has played particularly well in first-round games, covering the spread in just one of the last five. Creighton has also fought under McDermott as a favorite, recording only 2-4 ATS overall and 1-3 in the first round.
This year, Creighton is ranked No. 6 in the South and is preferred to No. 11 in NC State by 5.5 points.
If you don’t want to let Creighton pale against the spread, you might want to check out the underside. In McDermott’s 16 NCAA tournament games while in Creighton and Northern Iowa, the Under stands 11-4-1.
Jim Larranaga, Miami
Jim Larrañaga made his mark coaching George Mason to an epic run to the Final Four in 2006 as the 11th-seeded coach. Aside from that run, however, Larrañaga’s teams weren’t very reliable for bettors during March Madness.
Larrañaga has been playing in Miami since 2012 and will play with the Hurricanes for the sixth time in an NCAA tournament. Larrañaga coached Miami to the Sweet 16 in 2013 and 2016, then made it to the Elite Eight last year.
Even so, Miami is only 5-7 against the distribution in NCAA tournament play under Larrañaga. That includes an ugly 2-5 ATS mark as a favorite.
That year, the Hurricanes won the ACC regular season title and ranked No. 5 in the Midwest. They played a tough duel with Drake, the No. 12 seeded seedling, champions of the Missouri Valley Conference. Miami is favored at BetMGM by just 2.5 points.
In addition, the total is reported at 146.5. Miami’s last five tournament games have gone under the total.
Kevin Willard, Maryland
Kevin Willard is in his first season in Maryland after a 12-year run at Seton Hall. Willard built Seton Hall into a steadfast contender in the Great East, but his teams never found much success in the NCAA tournament.
Willard is only 1-5 all-time in NCAA tournament games. His teams from Seton Hall only covered the spread twice in those six games. In Round 1, Willard’s teams were 4-1 direct and 4-1 against the spread.
Will things change for Willard now that he’s coaching a different program? Maryland, the No. 8 South, is currently a 2.5-point underdog in its first round match against West Virginia, the No. 9.
Mark Few, Gonzaga
Gonzaga has had many deep NCAA tournament runs under head coach Mark Few, but his all-time ATS record stands at just 19-27-1. In Gonzaga’s most recent 30-game tournament stretch, it’s 13-17-1 ATS, despite being a 22-8 straight-up.
The Bulldogs have failed to cover the span in five straight tournament games and are only 5-9 ATS favorites in the first round. Five of Gonzaga’s last six first-round games have gone under the total.
This year, Gonzaga is the No. 3 West and meets the No. 14 Grand Canyon in the first round. The Bulldogs are favored at BetMGM with 15.5 points, with the total standing at 155.5.
Eric Musselman, Arkansas
Eric Musselman made two runs to the Elite Eight in his four seasons in Arkansas. The Razorbacks have a straight tournament record of 6-2 under Musselman, but are only 3-5 against the spread.
Between Musselman’s Arkansas and Nevada stints, he’s only around 5-8 ATS in tournament play. That includes an ugly 1-5 ATS mark as a favorite. At this year’s tournament, Arkansas is favored in the first round against Illinois by 1.5.
Additionally, the under is 8-4-1 in the 13 tournament games Musselman has coached. The total for the Arkansas-Illinois game is currently quoted at 143.5 at BetMGM.