Learning The Basic To Bet On March Madness

How to Bet on March Madness – Point Totals, Props & More!

The term “March Madness” was first created by Henry V. Porter, a central Illinois resident and Athens High School teacher and basketball coach, who used the term when referring to the excitement surrounding Illinois’ state basketball tournaments.

The famous phrase first appeared in print in the Illinois High School Athlete 1939 and later became a point to rally around during World War II.

Known for its incredible drama, unexpected underdogs, and captivating performances, March Madness is almost always a favorite of any sports fan.

Forming a Bracket

The March Madness bracket consists of four divisions within the overall bracket, each with sixteen different teams ordered by seed. Eight teams compete in the opening day’s events, which are a separate, sort of play-in game that narrows the field from 68 to 64 teams.

Teams are selected for the bracket based on their season records, NET rating, quality of wins, and performances in conference tournaments, among other factors. Teams that are “on the bubble” before the selection process has been completed are those that have a chance to either make it in or miss out on the festivities.

The last four in are the final four teams that would be selected to participate in the tournament; the first four out are the four teams that would be next in line for a spot; the next four out are the following four teams that would also miss out on the event.

Before the tournament even starts, there is a special selection show during which the teams are revealed with their corresponding seeds and the bracket is revealed for the first time.

This is the first opportunity to figure out which region is the “group of death,” plot potentially upset paths, and figure out which team is primed to take home the national title.

How to Bet on March Madness (Futures)

Sportsbooks will be running promotions for the entirety of March Madness due to its massive popularity and non-stop action.

There are different types of bets that can be placed on the tournament, both from a larger perspective and a small-scale one. A big-picture bet is known as a future and can take on one of two different forms.

The first type of future is a bet on the eventual champion in which the bettor selects which team they think is going to take home the national title. From 2011-2021, seven number-one seeds emerged victorious from March Madness, along with a single two, three, and seven seed. 

There is also a future bet on Final Four teams, or picking a particular team to be one of the last four standing in the bracket; to accomplish this, a team must successfully win its region and advance to the semi-final round of the tournament. 

Reaching the Final Four is thought of as a tremendous accomplishment, and this is where viewership on the tournament rises significantly. Cinderella stories rarely make it to the championship games, but there are frequently surprise teams that filter into the Final Four, making the value of underdog teams as a whole significantly higher in Final Four futures picks.

How to Bet on March Madness Cont’d. (Moneylines) 

Okay, the old-school, traditional bets that everyone knows is a straight-up, “who is going to win this game?” wager that friends have been playing with one another since who knows when. There will be no shortage of these types of bets, known as moneylines, during March Madness, due to the packed schedule.

Heavy favorites have little-to-no value on the moneyline because of the risk-reward value; if this were a different scenario in professional sports, or March Madness was a series of best-of-anything other than one, then the favorites’ lesser moneyline value could be combined with other picks to form a near-guaranteed parlay, but the extreme variability and Madness of March still renders this a huge risk.

Moneylines are best for teams that are absolute guarantees— in the bettor’s mind— to win, teams that are facing an opponent of a similar seed, or underdogs that the bettor believes in. In the case of the underdog, smaller wagers can still have massive impacts because of the lower investment but higher payout.

More March Madness Betting (Spreads)

If moneylines do not pique your interest, spread betting offers a nearly equal risk-reward for every team and every matchup in the tournament, regardless of prestige or pedigree. Spreads essentially spot the favored team a certain amount of points to account for the disparity in ability, and then determine the winners and losers of the bet by checking whether or not each team covered their spread.

“Covering” means that a certain team won or lost within the number of points that were given on the spread. Favored teams, or teams that must win by a certain amount of points to cover the spread, are denoted by a “-”; teams that are underdogs and must win or lose within a certain amount of points are denoted by a “+.” 

For example, a -7.5 favorite must win the game by at least eight points to cover the spread, but if they lose or win by seven points or fewer, then they did not cover the spread whereas the other team did.

+4 underdog must win or lose by less than four points to cover the spread— if they lose by more than four points, the favored team will have covered the spread. If the final result is exactly a four-point differential in the favorite’s direction, the final result is a “push” and there is no winner. All money that was wagered on the game will be returned to the bettors.

Points Totals (Over/Under)

Say that you are not sure who is going to win a particular game, but you have an inkling that it will be a low-scoring affair and you are still looking to make some money; try betting on the points total, more commonly known as the over/under and see how far your luck runs.

Points totals provide a target score for both teams in a particular game to combine to reach, and if they go over, then the over hits, and vice versa. This can be an easy way to earn rewards without having an indication of which team is going to win the game itself.

Overs and unders can feel secondary to moneylines and spreads because they do not require a pick on the game’s outcome, but they are important parts of a bettor’s repertoire that will come in handy on a matchup-dependent basis.

Even More Betting! (Parlays)

In the case of the extreme thrill-seekers or those looking to add some spice to the usual monotony of picking game-winners, parlays can provide entertainment and boost odds. 

A parlay is a combination of predetermined picks that must all come true for the bet to be won. If even one pick (also known as a “leg”) in a 10-leg parlay misses, the entire parlay will be voided, thus making it the “boom-or-bust” option in sports gambling.

On the bright side, parlays give the user more control over the entirety of an afternoon’s events and provide an opportunity for some ridiculous earnings. Bettors have turned $1 into $100,000 with one successful parlay, and although the odds are unlikely, it has happened and can provide excitement, if nothing else.

More realistic parlays can be combinations of moneylines, spreads, over/unders, or prop bets, depending on the selections. In doing this, bettors can transform bad odds of heavy favorites into a greater opportunity if a few picks can string together wins. This is where a majority of newer bettors find their spot, both for the opportunity to make headlines and also the fun that goes with placing the picks.

What are… Props?

Prop bets are more trivial wagers that are secondary, if not irrelevant to the outcome of a game. Props are wildly popular in professional sports but are restricted in many states at the college level, and even in states where they are allowed, they can be made to exclude bets on individual player performances.

Props are exciting ways to join the action without having the greatest knowledge of the sports or teams but are dependent upon where an individual is placing their bet as states have different rules regarding prop bets on college sports.

Making Picks

So, time for the big questions: 

How do you make picks that are guaranteed to come true 100% of the time?

Well, simply put, that is impossible— but what you can do is make picks that put you in the best position to make money without too much risk.

Upsets are going to happen all over the place in March Madness. It’s in the name, if it was March Normality then nobody would watch.

The best way to understand every matchup, however, is to look at in-depth analyses that you will be able to find on nearly every March Madness bracket app and website. These will tell you different metrics such as win streaks, NET rating, BPI, % win likelihood, notable results, and others. 

From there, take the time to look at the stats, both from a player and team perspective for both teams in the matchup. If you have existing knowledge of the teams and have seen them play already that season, fall back on that knowledge and use this research as a supplement.

Choose Your Style

Styles make fights, so after you have deliberated over what looks the most likely to happen, go ahead and jot down your pick for the game. Repeat this process for as many games as you want on a particular day, and then, once you are done, go back and evaluate which picks you are the most confident in. Pick some of your best bets, or all of them if you are that confident, and then proceed to the next step of placing the bet.

If there are a bunch of heavy favorites on your list of picks, all of which have terrible odds, consider combining them into a parlay that will give you decent odds without having to plunge into uncertainty by taking an underdog.

If you do not fancy this approach, then try mixing an underdog with a heavy favorite to get a much higher value without having to combine multiple “shaky” picks and instead relying on a favorite to get you a win without having to risk much.

Which Teams are the Best for Futures?

As is the case with every sport, there are solid regular season teams, and then there are “tournament teams.” Tournament teams are squads specifically built to cause trouble for their opponents, usually favorites, because of some quality of their team. This is oftentimes three-point marksmanship but can also be incredible height, tenacious defense, or a takeover player that is destined to erupt on the national stage.

The most important qualities to consider when looking at teams for future bets are: 

  • Ability
  • Depth
  • Experience
  • Coaching
  • Three-point Shooting
  • Free-throw Shooting
  • Turnover Rate
  • Defensive Rating

Rebounding is also a very underrated component of winning teams but can be overlooked if a team meets all of the other criteria and is elite in at least one.

Knowing a team’s consistency can also pay dividends, though this comes with having watched that team play multiple games and cannot be seen in the box score. 

68 Teams, One Champion

March Madness is one of the most exciting events for sports fans and is the greatest draw in college sports. 68 teams from across the country put their athletic lives on the line in front of the nation with one chance at winning a national title.

There are all sorts of different bets that are possible in March Madness, whether that be moneylines, spreads, points totals, props, or parlays.

There is something for everyone in March Madness betting.

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How to Bet on March Madness FAQs

Another big reason for the sheer popularity of the tournament is that it happens during a gap in the regular sports season.

A bracket is a form that can be completed on-line or printed out and completed by hand whereby the participant predicts the outcome of each game in the tournament.

There are many different ways to score a March Madness bracket. The most common method is to award 1 point for correct predictions in the first round, 2 in the second round, 4 in the third, 8 in the fourth, 16 in the fifth, and 32 in the sixth and final round.