2021 NCAA March Madness Betting Guide

Odds, Picks, Betting Strategies and Free Bets for 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament

Odds to win 2020-2021 NCAA Basketball Championship 

(National Championship Game April 5, 2021, Indianapolis, IN). Odds by William Hill USA.

TeamBetting Odds
Gonzaga500
Baylor800
Iowa1000
Villanova1000
Illinois1200
Kansas1200
Michigan State1400
Virginia1400
Duke 1500
West Virginia1800

Who Wins March Madness 2021? Betting Predictions

Odds will be available at William Hill and bet365. Check our daily predictions on AmericanGambler.com during the March Madness 2021 tournament. 

Who is the current favorite to win March Madness 2021?

TeamOdds to win 2021 March Madness
Gonzaga+900
Kansas+800
Louisville+800
Baylor+1200

2021 March Madness FAQs

The NCAA Basketball Tournament was one of many major sporting events that fell victim to COVID-19 in 2020. The whole event was canceled. To avoid a repeat, the entire tournament will be staged in one location in 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. This will enable teams to be housed safely in a controlled environment.

Will Fans Be Allowed In The Stadium?

The NCAA remains hopeful that at least some fans will be able to attend March Madness games. The NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, who play home games at Lucas Oil Stadium, have allowed 12,500 fans for games this season, about 20 percent capacity. 

Which School is Favored To Win?

The Virginia Cavaliers were 2019 NCAA champions and sportsbooks are projecting a first-time winner again. FanDuel is listing the Gonzaga Bulldogs as +450 favorites to win it all. Gonzaga made its only final appearance in 2017, losing to North Carolina.

How Much Money Is Bet On 2021 NCAA Basketball Championship?

According to data from the American Gaming Association, $8.5 billion was collectively wagered on the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Estimates are that 50 million Americans put a bet down on March Madness. 

Where Can You Bet On March Madness?

Nevada, New Jersey, Michigan, New Hampshire, Montana, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Colorado, West Virginia, Delaware, New Mexico, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, and D.C. offer legal sports betting. 

Do The Favorites Usually Win?

Favorites do quite well, actually. Over the past 10 finals, the chalk won and covered the spread seven times. Since the tourney went to a 64-team format in 1985, favorites are 20-14-1 against the spread.  

Which Schools Have Won the Most Titles?

UCLA owns a record 11 NCAA titles. The Bruins won seven in a row from 1967-73 and most recently were champions in 1995. Kentucky (eight) is next, followed by North Carolina (six) and Duke and Indiana with five apiece.

Do Preseason No. 1-Ranked Teams Often Win?

Rarely. Since 1985, six preseason No. 1 teams have been champions (17.1 percent). Seven others lost in the final and a further 17 reached the Final Four. Another 22 lost in the Elite Eight, while 27 were eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen. One team lost in the first round.

Where can I bet on March Madness 2021 in New York?

On-site betting is allowed in New York. Drive to Turning Stones Sportsbook or visit Seneca Casinos‘ betting venues in New York. Alternatiely, you can go to NJ and sign up with one of their legal betting apps, such as bet365 NJ (use code NJGAMBLER).

In which states can you bet on 2021 March Madness online?

You can register an account with legal online sports betting sites and bet on March Madness 2021 online in Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Delaware, Mississippi and New Mexico. 

States where it may be legal before NCAA March Madness/Final Four (Late March)

Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, New York (online), South Dakota, Virginia, Washington (In-person online) 

Which team should I bet to win 2021 March Madness?

Ah, the age old question: who should I take to win some future event?

Unless you are Marty McFly, and know the winners of every title for the next 30 years because of the Gray’s Sports Almanac, you and I are in the same boat: we have to watch it all play out to find out.

There are, however, some trends you can follow to figure out who will be up on the stage at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, April 5, hoisting the NCAA National Championship trophy with nets around their neck.

Teams with future NBA stars usually do well in this tournament, but of course, that is many of the Blue Blood teams. They are usually good, and highly seeded, because they have better players. Well, 11 of the last 15 teams have been top seeds in the tournament, but there are four of them each year. The team that comes in as the top ranked team has won just once since 2002 (Kentucky, 2012), so maybe you can take that team away.

Teams that have players coming back to avenge last season’s disappointment have been big over the last decade. For North Carolina in 2009 and 2017, they won the title after crushing losses in the Final Four (2008) and National Championship (2016). Virginia was the first team to lose as a top seed in 2018, then came back the next season and won its first title. 

So look for a team that has a good mix of future NBA players, senior leadership, and is near the top of the rankings all season.

My choices right now would be Gonzaga, Baylor, and North Carolina.

2021 NCAA Basketball Championship: Schedule & Dates

  • Selection Sunday: March 14
  • First Four: March 16-17
  • First Round: March 18-19
  • Second Round: March 20-21
  • Sweet 16: March 25-26
  • Elite Eight: March 27-28
  • Final Four (national semifinals): April 3
  • March Madness National Championship: April 5 2021
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What is NCAA March Madness? 

Every year, the NCAA (the National Collegiate Athletic Association) has an end of season basketball tournament to determine which team is the champion.

There are 350 Division 1 schools that start the season eligible to make the end of season tournament, plus another seven that are currently transitioning from Division 2 to Division 1 that will soon be eligible as well.

The NCAA runs a three week, 68-team fiesta, which has been named “March Madness”, even though the Final Four and National Championship Game usually take place in April. The two 2021 Final Four (and possibly the whole tournament depending on COVID-19) games will take place on April 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with the National Championship Game Monday, April 5 at the same site.

The other rounds are called the First Four (two games usually in Dayton, Ohio), the First Round (32 games, 64 teams), the Second Round (16 games, 32 teams), the Sweet 16 (16 teams, eight games), and the Elite Eight (eight teams, four rounds).

Lately, though, March Madness has also come to be associated with Champ Week, which is actually closer to two weeks; it is a crazy period where all 32 conferences around the country determine their champion, who gets an automatic bid into the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

The various TV networks broadcast hundreds of games, from morning to late night, of teams hoping to get their shot on the big stage.

As currently set up, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has 17 overall national championships, one more than the PAC-12. UCLA has 11 overall titles, although just one has been since 1975 (1995). Kentucky has 8, while the University of North Carolina has 6 (plus one from 1924, so really 7).

Teams are seeded by a selection committee into four different regions, based on various factors, from 1 to 16. While there are many upsets early in the tournament (hence the madness), at the end of the tournament, it is usually the so-called Blue Bloods that win the titles. Since the start of 2005 (15 years), UNC has three titles, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, and Villanova each have two, while Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Virginia each have one, a veritable who’s who of major programs.

How do I bet on March Madness? Which teams are good to take?

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off in the First Four games. They are two games with teams battling to be a 16 seed, and go up against the top seed of a regional bracket, and two games of teams that will end up as an 11th seed, with a much more favorable game in the first round against a 6 seed.

Since the First Four was started in 2011, one of the two teams that were not in the 16th seed games have then gone one to win its next game in every tournament except the last one contested in 2019. In fact, in four of the eight times, the team won at least two games and made the Sweet 16, with VCU making it all the way to the Final Four back in 2011.

So betting odds are, one of those teams in the play-in games is going to use that momentum and keep winning through the first weekend.

A mistake some bettors make is looking at the seeds, and not the betting lines for any game. When a 5 seed is playing a 12 seed, the lines “should” be heavily in favor of the higher seeded (the 5) side. But that is often not the case; most people who follow the tournament know of the dreaded 5-12 game “curse”, where the lower seeded team wins. Over the last three-plus decades, the 12 seed has actually won around 36% of their first round games. 

Most of the time, if you are looking to bet early round games, you want to take teams towards the top of the seeding (1-4, for example) that have potential NBA players in the lineup. 

One key that could help you win or lose a bet in the early round games, where the lines might be a little bigger than in the later rounds, is free throw shooting. If a better team is ahead late in the game, and is good at shooting free throws, they can close out the game and cover the spread for you. But if they struggle at the line, they could let the other team get back in the game, and get a back door cover. Stay away from those teams if possible.

What is future betting on 2021 NCAA Basketball Championship?

Every year, the sports books post odds on who they think is going to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, or March Madness.

Most of the time, the teams that are ranked highly in the AP Top 25 or Coaches’ Poll are going to be the teams that have the best odds to win the national championship at the end of the NCAA Tournament 2021.

For example, heading into the 2020-21 season, Gonzaga was a near unanimous choice to start the season at the top of the polls, with Baylor just behind the Zags in the second spot. Both of those teams were in prime position to win last season’s title as well, before COVID-19 shut down the tournament.

Sports books usually post odds to win the title right after the conclusion of the prior campaign, and adjust the odds as the season progresses, based on performance, injuries, and now due to COVID issues as well.

Here is the thing, though, about betting futures on college basketball, and in fact on any sport. In December, you are going to get much better odds on any team to win than you are going to get heading into the Sweet 16 or Final Four. For example, Gonzaga is currently around +600 to win the title, with Villanova second choice (despite an early season loss) at +800, just ahead of Baylor at odds of +850.

There are seven teams with odds from +1000 to +1999, another seven with odds from +2000 to +2999, and 10 more at odds of +3000 to +3999. 

Once the season starts to play out, and teams start to rise and fall in the rankings, the odds are probably going to change some in those teams from +1500 down. But the teams at the top of the rankings, and odds, are probably going to see little movement during the season, unless something drastic happens.

If you are thinking of taking the team heading into the tournament ranked first in the polls, don’t: they have won just once since 2001 (Kentucky, 2012). But in the last 15 years, a team seeded first in one of the regions has won 11 times. So the winner is probably going to come from the teams near the top of the futures odds. 

What are some good strategies to bet on March Madness?

Everyone will tell you that they have a strategy to win bets on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

But in reality, it is usually organized chaos. 

There are, however, some patterns that have developed over the years for the tournament, thanks to specific seeding.

Of course, the top seed has only lost one time in the history of the tournament (139-1): Virginia in 2018 lost to UMBC, but then came back the next year as the top seed and won the national championship. Teams seeded first are there for a reason; they are the best over a long campaign, and have won 11 of the last 15 titles. But only one of the top seeds can win the title, so the others eventually lose. Only once (2008) have all four top seeds made the Final Four.

If you see a top seed against a 16 in the first round, and the line is less than -20, jump on the top seed: they have covered eight of the last 10 times that has happened. When you look at the first round 8-9 game, which is traditionally between teams that have very little between them, the underdog has gone 26-18 since the start of 2009.

But when you move to the 7-10 first round game, another one that people traditionally think is a close battle between teams, there is no doubt which team you should take, especially on the money line. The 7 seeds are 85-55 all time against the 10. However, if the 10 seed does win that first round game, look at them to continue their run against the 2 seed (most likely) on the weekend: 10s are 24-32 all time in the second round, which could score you a nice money line underdog score.

But for all the talk of underdogs early in the tournament, the higher seed usually wins, especially on the money line. In the first round, top seeds are 139-1, second seeds 132-8, third seeds 119-21, and fourth seeds 111-29. That adds up to 501-59, or nearly 90 percent win percentage.

Over/under betting on totals

Much like any regular season NCAA Men’s Basketball game, 2021 March Madness, or the NCAA Tournament, games will have odds on each contest. 

The good thing about the tournament for bettors is, there are multiple windows each day, especially in the first two rounds, to wager on games.

In the first round, there are 32 games split up over two days (Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18), while the second round has 16 games split over two days (Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20). Each game will have a money line, point spread, over/under total, and various other proposition (prop) bets that you can wager with sports books online or in person at a casino.

For example, in a potential First Round game, third seed University of North Carolina (UNC) might be matched up with 14th seed Monmouth in the South Regional. UNC might be a -15 point favorite, or -2000 on the money line, with the over/under total set at 152. Because the Tarheels are so good, and a big favorite, maybe Monmouth struggles to score points. Maybe UNC Head Coach Roy WIlliams wants to make sure all of his players get significant game time, so that in the later rounds, they are prepared to play if someone gets into foul trouble.

Do you take a chance on the -15 with UNC, because the Tarheels are clearly the better team? What about the over 152, hoping they both leave starters in for a long time.

Each game will have the above bets available.

Because the tournament is ongoing, the lines for the next round’s games are usually posted once both participants have finished their wins from the previous round.

How to bet parlays on March Madness?

With so many games per day in the tournament, including 16 games on each first round day (Thursday and Friday, March 18-19, 2021) and eight on each second round day (Saturday and Sunday, March 20-21, 2021), there are plenty of opportunities to place parlays on games.

Remember, though, you will only be able to place the parlays on two days worth of action: either the one round first day and second day, or the second day of one round and the first day of the next.

But for all the talk of underdogs early in the tournament, the higher seed usually wins, especially on the money line. In the first round, top seeds are 139-1, second seeds 132-8, third seeds 119-21, and fourth seeds 111-29. That adds up to 501-59, or nearly 90 percent win percentage. If you can combine higher seeded teams for a multi-team parlay, that could get you a good early round win.

In the second round, top seeds are 120-19 (86%), which is still very good if you want to parlay them together. But below that top line, the winning percentage starts to move down quickly. Second seeds in the second round are 89-43 (67%), while third seeds are 74-45 (63%), so you will have to start picking out your games more carefully.

If you are looking for some plus-money teams to throw in a potential early round parlay, look at the 8-9 games. Underdogs have gone 26-18 in that first round bout.

As the tournament rolls on, the last round where the top seeds have a huge money line advantage is the Sweet 16: they are 97-23 (81%) there, which is still a big number. It falls to 59% (57-40), though, in the Elite Eight.

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Bet The Spread

Moneyline wagers on underdogs offer a lure to them, simply because the return on investment can prove to be overwhelming. But the fact of the matter, as was clearly outlined in the previous section, is that playing straight moneyline bets on huge longshots is fool’s gold. They aren’t wagers as much as they are donations to the online sportsbook.

The reality is that the 13 seed isn’t going to beat the 4 seed. However, there’s a very real possibility that the 4 seed isn’t going to beat the 13 seed by the 15.5 points that they’ve been assigned as the favorite in the game.

Point spreads are the great equalizer. Use them wisely and you’ll grow wealthier.

Building A Bracket

Everyone fills out a bracket. The butcher. The baker. Even the candlestick maker, if you happen to know any candlestick makers. 

Your mother did a bracket. So did your grandmother. That fellow at work who’s always talking about the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Yeah, he filled out a bracket. And don’t look now but his bracket is doing better than yours. 

The bracket is the everyman – every person? – of sports betting, because you don’t need to be a sharp to do it. All you need is a sharpie and a mind to be ready to take a guess . . . or about 51 guesses.

It’s the ultimate parlay on steroids.

March Madness Betting Patterns

Bettors wager on point spreads, money lines and totals on those games in the run-up to the “Big Dance.” American gamblers also find opportunities betting on teams to win those individual conference tournaments.

Betting on March Madness 2021 games in advance of the national tournament is a day-in-and-day-out opportunity to wager on and study teams in preparation for the major event.

College teams are whittled down through a variety of seeded formats until a champion is crowned. That team receives the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the others, provided their credentials are enough to impress the committee members, hope to receive an at-large bid into the field.

If they don’t qualify for the College Basketball championship tournament, there are three other tournaments that could come calling to invite lesser-qualified teams.

These tournaments are mostly conducted on the days other than the days in which the NCAA Tournament is held. These games provide more wagering opportunities and even determine tournament champions.

What are some things to look for in teams playing March Madness 2021?

There are definitely some factors that make certain NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament teams better for bettors. Has a team battled all the way through all the way to a conference tournament final from the early rounds, only to lose that game? Maybe that push to the final jumps them up a few lines in the bracket.

But beware of those teams: many times, that extra energy expended would have been better used to prepare for the tournament, and those teams could see an early exit from the bracket.

Does a team have a future NBA star on the roster, that might carry them to a few wins? Even if it is a mid-major team, those types of teams can be very dangerous in the bracket, and you could ride them in each round, especially if their teams are getting points. One example that comes to mind would be Steph Curry’s Davidson team, who made it all the way to the Elite Eight in 2008. One team that could be like that in 2020-21 could be Western Kentucky, led by Charles Bassey.

But in reality, the teams that win this tournament are not 10 seeds, or even 6 seeds: at the end of the night on the first Monday in April, the team standing on top of the podium is usually a 1 seed, and a Blue Blood. In the past 15 tournaments, 11 of the winners have been a top seed, and all were from power conferences. The ACC has won seven of those 15 titles (UNC 3, Duke 2, Louisville and Virginia 1), one less than all the rest combined. In fact, the lone title in the last five decades that has been from a team outside the Blue Bloods was UNLV in 1990, and that team had three future NBA players.

So pick your upsets early in the tournament, but ride the higher seeds later, especially on the money line wagers.

Betting on college basketball reaches a frenzy every March, primarily during the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. The men’s tournament March Maddness is really the focus of the sports betting world, at least in the United States, for primarily the last two weeks of the month.

Sixty-eight teams are selected and then seeded accordingly by the tournament’s committee. Of those teams, 32 are automatically qualified as champions of their conference tournament, while the remaining NCAA teams are choices of the committee. 

And that’s only the beginning.

The beauty of March Madness, the element that allows it to cast such a magical spell over the masses, is the upset. On any given day, any team can win one game. 

That being said, don’t fall in love with playing for the upset. As romantic as it is to pick a 14, 15 or 16 seed to win in the first round and begin the assembly of a Cinderella story, the reality is that for the vast majority of these teams, midnight is coming home to roost in rapid-fire fashion.

Through the history of the tournament, the one seed is 135-1 against the 16 seed. That’s a 99.26 percent success rate. Two seeds are 128-8 against the 15 seed, winning 94.12 percent of the time.

When you get to the 5-12 matchup, now you’re talking about upset territory. The No. 5 seed still holds an 89-47 advantage but that’s an awful lot of success for the 12 seeds. They win 34.56 percent of the time. 

The NCAA often states that there’s virtually no difference between an 8 and 9 seed other than the digit assigned to the school, and the numbers beat that out. The No. 8 seed holds a slight 69-67 advantage over No. 9. As close as that is, you might as well play the underdog and take the points in the spread.

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Gamblers that choose to wager legally in the United States are often presented with a wide menu of betting options on individual games and future events, as well.

While many will focus on game-by-game or parlay wagering, some choose to play into futures markets, especially which team will win the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament championship game.

Individual game wagering usually offers point-spread and money line betting, as well as, totals wagering, including team totals. 

Many of the betting options are also broken down into segments of the game, usually first- and second-half betting, although wagers can be made on which team might be the first to reach 15 points, for example.

Also, many US sportsbooks offer live in-game betting, especially games that are nationally televised.

An in-game betting menu may offer a live point-spread that offers punters a chance to make an initial wager on a game, or possibly hedge against an already successful position to create a profit or try to a middling opportunity.

In-game wagering is usually offered to feature a menu of point-spread, money line or totals wagering, however, many high-profile games can feature point races to the next milestone, such as next team to reach a certain number of points, or which team will be the next to score out of a time out.

March Madness 2021 Mobile Betting

With the advance of mobile-device and internet wagering, mobile sportsbooks in NJ, IL, MI, TN, IN, PA, IA are able to expand their March Madness 2021 betting odds menu to offer more and more diverse options for gamblers to consider, therefore offering sportsbooks more chances to earn. In turn, however, educated or sharp gamblers may be at an advantage in some wagering opportunities when oddsmakers rely more heavily on algorithm-based line setting rather than making manual adjustments.

In-Game Betting

Many sports betting “earners” nowadays use live in-game wagering to continuously play both sides of a competitively-matched game where teams might trade one-sided offensive scoring spurts.

Bracket-style Contests

The most popular form of March Madness wagering continues to be bracket-style or office pool wagering. Millions of college basketball fans participate in pools organized by friends or online services that allow entrants to try and determine the winner of each game in the NCAA Tournament.

Usually, the entry with the most number of victories is awarded all or a share of the total pot. 

There are some variations of these contests, such as awarding more points for each progressive round reached, or awarding more points (or based on) a team’s lower- (worse) seeding.

Often, a pool of this type may award prizes based on the number of entrants, allowing second-, third- or lower-placed finishers to also share in the prize with a smaller win. A popular tie-breaker is to pick the number of points or the exact final score of the championship game, with the closest prediction awarded the higher prize.

People entering bracket-style contests come from all walks of life, including people who normally don’t pay attention to college basketball, often picking teams by the school’s perceived basketball or athletic history, by team nickname or color, or even by the flip of a coin, which actually leads to a tremendous overlay for an average-skilled punter that simply picks higher-ranked teams.

However, usually, the winning or contending entries, especially in larger contests, usually will have include an uncanny combination that includes nearly every upset, particularly “Cinderella”-type teams that had little chance of advancing reach the later rounds.

Recently, the number of people participating in March Madness-style basketball contests has been around 70 million per season. The figure has continued to increase more slowly, of late, but nonetheless continues to rise. It is expected that the advent of legal sports wagering in the United States will lead to even more publicity to all forms of sports gambling that could even lead to an increase the bracket-style contests.

There is very little chance that standard sports wagering would ever supersede the number of people filling out tournament brackets.

It isn’t uncommon for the winner or top finisher to be someone that has never watched or cared about college basketball. But that is what makes March Madness office-style bracket pools so fun for the general public.

The bracket-theme has become so popular that the organization running the tournament has a post-game tradition of the winning team placing a sticker on a board with a tournament bracket signifying their advance into the next round. The organization also uses a bracket-style logo in the background of many marketing logos and slogans.

Still, by the end of the tournament, usually, only single-digit seeds remain. In fact, often the remaining four teams that make up the championships’ Final Four will be top-four seeds, and even more frequently in the top two seeds from each region.

Teams and competitive balance

Although originally placed in regions geographically, the March Madness committee has moved over the past 25 years to place most of its teams in regions based on competitive balance.

The top seeds will usually head to the region most proximate to its campus, while other teams are seeded based on power ratings, dividing the teams into groups of four, such as the No. 2 seeds, the No. 3 seeds, etc. Although the committee claims no effort is made to seek particular matchups, many skeptics point to several storylines every year where the irony of a matchup between two teams or a likely potential matchup in a later round, makes it appear as if the committee is trying to make attractive matchups for fans and media, alike.

The smaller tournaments make their selections from the remaining teams and play a tournament in a few different formats. These tournaments often set their matchups to make more attractive games out of necessity since the major tournament hugely overshadows three remaining three tournaments.

The National Invitation Tournament still gets the marquee among the lesser three events, particularly since its final is still famously played at Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous sporting arena. The lure of making to The Garden is still part of the attraction for teams accepting an invitation to the NIT.  

Also, several of the top seeds in the NIT are motivated by being left out of the NCAA Tournament, giving them even greater motivation to advance to the next round. Often, games will be played in front of less-than-full arenas so the extra motivation can be important since non-final four games are played at home team venues.

Live Streaming and exposure

Another attraction for teams playing in the NIT is the exposure.

Because the NIT is played primarily on nights opposite of the NCAA Tournament, it is featured on ESPN and because of the excitement surrounding March Madness, fans will often tune to games to get excited for the upcoming tournament or to support a local team or watch because they have wagered on the contest.

There is rarely any popular bracket-style pools for these lesser tournaments. In fact, a couple of the events hand-pick the later-round games and one of the tourneys plays a best-two-of-three championship format, playing the first game at one school’s venue before moving to the other school’s site for the remainder of the series.

In fact, the lesser two of the tournaments have a much smaller reach with audiences and coverage is frequently limited to a live stream, rather than a major cable sports network.

While the NCAA Tournament is famous for its format, particularly the nearly all-day coverage during the opening rounds on Thursday and Friday, and featured second-round coverage shown over a series of television networks over a three-week period, the individual conference tournaments is where even a hardcore college basketball bettor can have their head spin.

March Madness 2020 Betting Guide

While the NCAA Tournament has a few windows where it features live coverage of three or four games at a time, the conference tournament season can see as many as a dozen high-profile games being played at a given time, and because of the popularity of college basketball, many of these games are on major cable sports networks, or at least minor sports networks and other major streaming services that make the whirlwind of start times and late-finishes raise or lower a bankroll in just the span of a couple of hours.

Value seeking betting strategy during March Madness 

It is also a time that expert bettors feel they may have an advantage of online sportsbooks. Because of the rapid elimination of teams and subsequent matchups often less than 24 hours later, bookmakers may have little time to react to developments within teams that could go overlooked or under-reported by the time sportsbooks feel required to release the line on the next round of games.

Also, expert or sharp bettors also feel they frequently have an advantage in some matchups during the postseason because of the extreme high-profile of top successful “blue-blood” programs. Major college basketball programs are expected to receive a higher-majority of support because of their championship profile, even if many of those schools are not producing championships to match their expected success.

Sharp bettors will often look to fade marquee schools such as North Carolina, Kansas, Duke and sometimes a few others because of the obvious public support. Those teams also often have less-than-realistic odds to win the national championship because of this support.

Still, those “blue-bloods” get plenty of support in the futures’ market, which is another popular form of March Madness wagering. Usually, sportsbooks will have a fluid offering of which team will win the next national championship game. Bettors can usually pick from any or all of the teams as prospective odds that will return if that team wins the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The value of a live futures ticket

Some college basketball handicappers may hold a few or several futures bets, sometimes the same team at different odds, trying to build a portfolio for a potential return that could include a hedging opportunity in order to secure a profit should that team exceed the expected value of that wager.

Oddsmakers in New Jersey, Vegas or Indiana reserve the right to take down the futures board on March Madness 2021 at any time, for example during postseason tournaments, or following a key injury to an elite player, but usually, gamblers can often find the odds to win the next college basketball national title available.

Holding a futures ticket provides some bettors with the satisfaction of their confidence in a long-term prognostication of which team will win the championship. However, many expert bettors will place futures wagers in accordance with the delay in oddsmakers making proper adjustments to long-term tournament odds following an injury or permanent personnel disqualification.

The value of a live futures ticket will most-often continue to rise as the field is reduced and in most cases, unless holding a bet on a possible over-laid favorite in a championship game, will give a gambler the opportunity to profit from the wager by buying-back or hedging against the original wager in order to make a profit.

For example, a $100 wager at a team to win the championship at 10-1 would return $1100 if they win the title. Should the team reach the championship game, a wager on the opponent could generate a guaranteed return no matter which team wins the final game.

Depending on which team is favored in the final game or whichever late-round game a futures ticket holder decides to take a hedge, a middling opportunity may create an even greater advantage to the sports bettor that has already made the winning investment with the positive expected value of the successful futures’ wager.

Avoid losing bets

Gamblers should be careful to consider all investments into a futures pool before considering how much of a hedge is necessary to create a profit for the event. A bettor may have already had several losing bets into the same wager that should be counted against an original investment in the wager.

That being said, a successful gambler could even consider taking a loss on a particular series of bets into a futures pool in order to avoid a greater loss if their position is extremely unbalanced heading into a championship or late-round game.

Casual bettors usually play the futures market late in the betting cycle, for example, usually before the start of the NCAA Tournament, when the odds to win the championship are extremely more settled than the offerings before the start of the new year. 

Gamblers may throw down a few bets if they are infrequent visitors to a sportsbook, just to be “holding a ticket” on Final Four Weekend. Whatever the case may be, it is arguable that betting on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament’s March Madness is the biggest event on the sports betting calendar.

Sports gaming experts point out that the volume on the tournament combined exceeds that of the National Football League championship Super Bowl game.