March Madness Selection Sunday is this weekend and the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship tips off a week from today on March 17. With no clear-cut favorite to win the tournament, excitement for this year’s Big Dance is exceptionally high.
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators are also enthusiastic about college basketball’s marquee month fast approaching. So are the sharks on the leading DFS platforms who are readying themselves for a feast of minnows.
While the vast majority of Americans will participate in a more traditional March Madness contest where each player throws $10 in an office or friendly pool and fills out a bracket, many college basketball fans and casual observers are expected to test their skills for the first time through daily fantasy sports outlets.
And make no mistake about it, experienced DFS players on DraftKings and FanDuel are licking their chops.
March Madness Massacre
The national debate on deciding if DFS contests depend more on skill or chance might still be ongoing among media pundits and state attorneys general, but the numbers speak for themselves.
A study last fall performed by global sports consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that the top one percent of DFS players win an astonishing 91 percent of all baseball contests.
When an amateur or novice poker player enters a casino, it’s quite rare he or she will sit down at the same table as an experienced pro. Aside from a few selected first-timer DFS contests, the vast majority of new customers on DraftKings, FanDuel, and other fantasy sports platforms have no choice but to compete against the hustlers.
“We don’t make any apologies that it’s a game of skill,” FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles told the Washington Post last fall. “You might go up against the best in the industry.”
There are few barriers in the daily fantasy ocean, meaning the minnows are almost always in the same body of water as the sharks. Though a David vs. Goliath result will occur sparingly, the more likely outcome is an all-out bloodbath for newcomers.
Basket of Complexities
Excelling at NCAA basketball fantasy contests is exceptionally difficult due to the vast size of collegiate sports. That’s why Eilers & Krejcik, a gaming research firm based in California, recently estimated that the sport constitutes less than five percent of all daily fantasy action.
DFS contests generally challenge the bettor to assemble a roster of athletes with a salary cap to create the strongest squad possible.
With a total of 68 NCAA Division I teams qualifying for March Madness, more than 900 players will be potentially eligible for your DFS roster. Compare that with the NBA’s 30 teams and just 420 players, and someone with an in-depth understanding of college basketball who is incorporating statistics and probability will routinely win against the DFS rookie.
Adding to the mental strain is the fact that each year college seniors graduate, players jump ship for the NBA, and a new class of freshmen enter the fray.
At OnlineGambling.com, we don’t encourage nor discourage players from competing in DFS, but if you’re going to try out fantasy sports for the first time during Mach Madness, we do suggest paddling cautiously.