It is still relatively early in the college basketball season. But the time has come to start getting excited about the soon-to-be-upon-us chaos that is the NCAA’s jewel in the crown of college hoops. The conference tournament that sets America alight every year.
WELCOME TO THE PARTY…
For those new to the sport, or to betting on NBA games and college basketball games. In this article, we’ll discuss the actual logistics of placing bets on the NCAA Tournament and any strategies that you might find interesting or that may have worked for us.
As it is a fluid situation, any betting odds we quote here won’t necessarily be valid for long. We post them only as a guideline and it’s important that you check the current odds for yourself and assess your March Madness best bets.
We’ll give you any other information that might help with the fine margins involved in basketball betting. A single-elimination tournament is a fun place to dip your toe in the water when it comes to gambling. It’s also a great place to lose an awful lot of money if you get carried away and jump in before you know how to swim.
ALRIGHT THEN, LET’S GET STUCK INTO THE BIG DANCE
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MARCH MADNESS IS THE CRAZIEST TIME OF YEAR FOR SPORTS BETTORS
Whether they be casual or otherwise, March Madness represents a huge opportunity to lay down some bets and get involved in the furore.
For those who are looking to dip their toes into the world of online betting then learning how to bet on March Madness is relatively easy and provides great entertainment and excitement to millions of viewers every year.
It’s similar to betting on the Super Bowl but there are 68 Division 1 men’s college basketball teams in the field, instead of one big shiny game to bet on.
From the four play-in games to the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight, the First Four, and right down to the all-important championship game, March Madness offers plenty of chances for you to legally bet a few hard-earned dollars and hopefully win more back than you spend.
BETTING ON MARCH MADNESS GAMES FOR BEGINNERS
If you are ready to see what all the fuss is about and place bets on the NCAA March Madness, then here are a few simple steps to follow.
SELECT A RELIABLE ONLINE SPORTSBOOK
There are lots of comparison sites that will help you to do this, and the bigger names will be familiar to you already.
There will be offers galore and schemes to tempt you one way or the other. You can certainly expect to be given some free bets but remember that nobody is going to offer the Earth if the others aren’t doing the same.
This is the most scrutinised business model possible and the deals that will be offered will all be very similar indeed.
CREATE YOUR ACCOUNT
Jump through all the online hoops that the website demands and when the time comes you will be asked to make a deposit.
Add as much as you can without it being more than you can afford to lose. This will allow you to take full advantage of any welcome bonuses that you researched earlier.
Once that money is accepted to your account, you are ready to start betting on March Madness games. But hold fire just yet, there is still work to do and decisions to be made!
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
March Madness betting strategies are many and plentiful but there is a wealth of misleading information available, accidentally or otherwise.
Do your own research if you can. Look at the teams seeded and their recent records. Ask yourself some questions.
Have they been performing better or worse than expected?
Have they traded any players or lost anyone to injury?
How is their record at home vs on the road?
How did they do in the national championship last season?
What are the odds they will win March Madness?
Did they make the Elite Eight last time?
Are they coming off a run of straight games away from home?
Put in the work up front and you will have a much better chance of it paying off later.
RECENT PERFORMANCE IS KING
When evaluating teams in the tournament, avoid weighing their overall record too heavily when compared to their recent form and toughness of their opposition and travel schedule.
College basketball is high-energy stuff and even though these are young, incredible fit and athletic men…
FATIGUE IS REAL
It is almost unheard of to see a team come into the tournament playing terrible basketball and still end up in the title game. Likewise, teams that are flying high are unlikely to suddenly run out of steam and motivation in the biggest tournament of the year.
Keep a close eye on how teams are playing coming into the NCAA tournament.
DECIDE HOW YOU PREFER TO BET
Below we have listed the most popular ways to place a bet on NCAA tournament games or brackets.
You may try several different approaches, or be drawn to a particular style immediately.
Be cautious at first and find your feet. If you blow all of your allowance (please have one and NEVER go beyond it) on some good futures odds up front then there is nothing left to do but wait and see if those bets come off.
Because there are seven rounds in March Madness, involving 68 teams, you will have ample opportunities to make different bets on the NCAA Tournament that will entertain you for longer if selected wisely.
If you see betting as a form of entertainment, and not just a chance to win some money, then it stands to reason that you would want to extend your enjoyment by spreading it out a little.
Sample some of the following by making lots of smaller bets and some styles will certainly begin to appeal to you more than others.
You can then re-invest your (hopefully) winnings and start betting again.
Putting all your eggs in one basket and then watching dutifully for them to hatch is tedious and you will not get the most ‘bang’ for your buck that way.
FAVOURITES VS UNDERDOGS
If you feel like placing a bet on an individual game from the upcoming NCAA tournament then you simply have to pick one teak to win.
This is known as a ‘Moneyline’ or ‘straight up’ (SU) bet. The odds for each team will be displayed with either a plus (+) or minus (-) sign by them. The minus sign (-) indicates that the online sportsbook believes this team to be the favourites to win the game. The plus sign (+) indicates the underdog.
This is not the article for an in-depth breakdown of what the numbers mean. But we have a detailed article on how to read NBA odds that will shine more light on that if you wish.
Once you have chosen the side you think will prevail you can use a simple online odds calculator. This will tell you how much you stand to win depending on the amount you wish to wager.
LOWER SEEDS CAN STILL BE GOOD BETS WHEN THEY APPEAR AS UNDERDOGS
Especially if they’re champions from mid-major conference tournaments.
They are not champions without reason, and the gap between conferences is smaller than it has ever been.
Because March Madness is a tournament that operates on a single-game elimination premise, it is always likely to create upsets.
It is your job to pick them out beforehand if you want to make some money from individual NCAA basketball games this way.
Unlike a straight-up bet where you simply pick one team to win over the other, a point spread bet involves betting on the margin of victory or loss.
Before the game begins (or during if you are live betting, see below for details on that) the underdog team is given a numerical advantage and the favourite a disadvantage to level the playing field.
TOTALS, OR OVER/UNDER BETTING
Whether at the professional level of the NBA, or the collegiate level of the national championship, basketball games can often be high-scoring affairs.
Totals, or over/under betting allow you to place bets on the combined final score of the two teams and can make for a highly-entertaining tactic when watching 2 teams where you have no clear bias towards one or the other and don’t really care which team wins.
Rooting for them to score more (or less) and keep your points scored bet alive makes it interesting.
MARCH MADNESS FUTURES
Futures bets are those that are made in advance (sometimes months) of the event itself.
You might already have a scoop on a red-hot team for this season’s March Madness and know exactly who you’re going to back.
The NCAA tournament odds will change constantly as more and more information is collected by the online sportsbooks and affects their judgement on what will happen.
Obviously, this can go either way for us as college basketball bettors. The odds can shorten or lengthen as events unfold, so the trick is to choose your timing carefully.
ONCE YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THE ODDS, GO FOR IT!
When top sportsbooks set their college basketball lines, they scrutinise everything from the team’s performance the previous year to any offseason happenings like players moving on or graduating or any coaching changes etc…
If a particular school played poorly in March Madness in the past then you can expect their odds to be high. Take advantage if you think they are better than that.
A school can be amazing during the regular season, but if they collected most of their wins due to their dominance at home, then they could be overvalued when it comes to the NCAA basketball tournament.
The odds will also shift as games are played. So if you see futures odds that you feel look good in advance then take them.
Proposition bets are made on the occurrence (or not) of specific milestones for individuals or teams. They need not directly affect the outcome of the game. Examples might be:
Which team will make the most two-point field goals?
How many minutes will (X) play?
Will there be overtime played?
How many rebounds will (Y) have?
Who will score more points, (X) or (Y)?
There are an almost limitless number of variations that you could choose and that keeps things very interesting within the games themselves.
Not only are you watching the overall score climb for your over/under bet, but you also have a keen eye on (X) and his performance.
EGGING HIM ON TO JUST A FEW MORE ASSISTS AND SO ON
Click here to read Paolo Banchero's NBA diary as the Magic rookie talks about his first year in the NBA.
When you have multiple bets on one slip that are inter-connected then these are known as Parlays.
The bets need to have no connection whatsoever between them and can even be from different sporting events.
The basic premise is that all the bets must come in for the ticket to be a winner, but this lengthens the odds significantly and reduces the chance of having a successful ticket.
The advantage of this is that each time there is a winner within the ticket the amount that is accrued as a result becomes the stake for the next step.
This way huge amounts can be built up.
BUT IT IS A PRECARIOUS STRATEGY AT BEST
It tantalises with promises of huge returns but can all too easily come crashing down.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
LIVE BETTING ON MARCH MADNESS
Making wagers while the big game is underway is known as live betting.
Watching March Madness games is even more fun (if that’s possible) if you choose to bet on them while they’re unfolding.
Online sportsbooks will release odds before the start of every quarter. They will be in a state of constant flux as time passes.
If you see tasty betting odds appear during live action then take the chance before it disappears.
One of the things that makes March Madness work so well is the potential for unexpected results and shock upsets in so many individual games.
These are great to participate in via the medium of live betting. But if you prefer calm, considered betting at a slow pace then this style is not for you.
BETTING ON BRACKETS
Finally, we come to the gambling style that has taken America by storm when it comes to this prestigious NCAA basketball tournament.
A bracket bet is one where you try to accurately predict the results of each March Madness game. From the opening round (in one or more of the regional brackets as you wish), right through to the championship.
Of all the tournament betting strategies here, it is by far the worst in terms of the actual chances of it coming to fruition.
In the ENTIRE HISTORY of March Madness betting, no winning ticket has ever been predicted.
We are reliably informed that the chance of picking a winning bracket is 1 in 9 quintillion. That’s 9 million trillion. We’re not even sure how many zeros that is, but it’s too many.
The rewards are, of course, huge should it ever happen.
BUT IT NEVER WILL
You’d be more likely to be hit by lightning 50 times in a row and survive.
The chances of winning the lottery are 1 in 300 million. So, you’ll win that over and over and over again before you’ll pick a perfect bracket in March Madness. It’s effectively impossible.
FADING THE PUBLIC
The amount that the public spends on March Madness betting is exponentially MUCH higher than that which they bet during the regular season or conference tournaments.
As a result, there’s going to be a lot of public money swimming around. The opinion of the masses will affect line movement much more significantly than usual.
THE PUBLIC WILL PREDOMINANTLY BET THE FAVOURITES
This may sway the odds that the teams are given (although the bookmakers are clearly aware of this trend and react accordingly).
But in the NCAA tournament teams are often very closely matched. If you have done some research and found that the favourites have had a particularly tough season. Perhaps they are coming in off the back of straight away games. If so, then you might decide it is time to fade the public and bet the underdog.
This strategy will clearly not work every time. There are favourites and underdogs for a reason, but in a competition where upsets are rife, it is certainly something to keep a keen eye on before placing any bets.
DEFENSE AND REBOUNDS
Another March Madness sports betting strategy that bears closer inspection is that of focusing on defense and rebound stats.
Due to geographical constraints and the hard work that the selection committee do in keeping them apart, most of the teams don’t know each other or at least haven’t met in the regular season.
Solid offensive capabilities in one area may not do as well against specific defenses from others. Something that was a winning element of one team’s play may be nullified, or at least tempered in the NCAA basketball tournament and no longer be enough to guarantee success
DEFENSE OVER OFFENSE
Offensive firepower isn’t as consistent or as effective as defensive intensity. The element of luck plays its part in offensive work. When the shots refuse to drop it just isn’t your night. Conversely, a strong, solid defense can play much more consistently. They can generally be relied upon not to suddenly collapse and give away twice their normal points in the second round.
The same is true of rebounding which restricts opposition chances if executed well.
Overall, teams that consistently played solid defense and take rebounds well offer more consistency and predictability.
BUILD A FANTASY TEAM
One alternative option for those among you who are truly obsessed with the intricacies of basketball. If you want to be involved on an even deeper level, why not participate in a fantasy NCAA tournament competition?
It is the same as other sports that run fantasy leagues and contests (often based on the regular season). The basic premise is that you select a squad of players and are able to switch them in and out of your team as if you were the manager.
Restrictions are applied to prevent everyone from simply choosing the best players based on their skill levels and attributes. If you pick the leading scorer in one pool then you will be prevented from taking top players in other positions.
THE SKILL LIES IN PICKING A SOLID SQUAD AND THEN MANIPULATING THEM INTELLIGENTLY
Points are awarded for each element of a player’s performance and these contribute to the overall score.
One player having a shocker can bring the whole team crashing down so it’s important to stay alert and make changes as and when required.
JUST LIKE A REAL COACH!
This is not technically considered to be gambling in the USA, although cash prizes are often awarded.
It’s certainly not the approach to take. Unless you love analysing players and becoming immersed in the event to a whole different level. But if March Madness betting is not your thing and you still want to get involved? This could be the perfect option for you.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BIG DANCE
The arrival of the NCAA tournament is a huge event in the basketball calendar that is cherished by millions. The team here at The Jump Hub are no different and we are already inordinately excited.
March Madness is a unique and glorious national championship.
IT GENUINELY BRINGS AMERICA TOGETHER LIKE NOTHING ELSE
Giving the hardcore gamblers a chance to really get their teeth into a huge number of options for laying bets. From the first play-in game they can implement their own special betting strategy.
It gives the rest of us an excuse to blow a few guilt-free dollars on fantasy bets. We enjoy yelling at the TV as we watch our bracket get destroyed in the second half – first game.
March Madness picks are not easy to get right. The league is tight and competitive. The thing that makes it work is that it is a knockout competition and literally anything can happen.
Laying down a bet and having some friendly competition with friends over drinks and snacks during March Madness is a great way to enjoy the tournament.
Whichever way you choose to participate, above all, enjoy your NCAA tournament betting and gambling in general responsibly. Learn to recognise when it is getting out of hand.
Always stick to the most important rule:
NEVER BET MORE THAN YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE
When it stops being fun, stop doing it.