March Madness NCAA Tournament Format
The NCAA Division I National Basketball tournament is Christmas in March for hoops bettors. It’s a single-elimination tournament that features 68 teams – the 32 college basketball conference champions and 36 at-large bids that are decided by the NCAA selection committee. March Madness betting really gets going on Selection Sunday, when the selection committee reveals the teams selected to participate in the tournament and reveals four First Four teams that play one game with a ticket to the Big Dance on the line.
From there the teams are divided into four regions with teams ranked from 1-16. The No. 1 seeded team in each region plays the No. 16 seed, the No. 2 seed plays the No. 15 seed and the winners advance within their side of the NCAA Tournament bracket. This year’s first and second rounds are followed by the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, and then the NCAA Tournament National Championship game.
From the First Four all the way to the NCAA Tournament Championship game, plus the latest college basketball betting odds and in-depth game previews with score predictions for every matchup on the board during March Madness, we have you covered.
March Madness Betting News
Gonzaga vs. Baylor Championship Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
It might not be the way Gonzaga expected to win in the Final Four, but they're now one win away from an undefeated season, thanks to a desperate buzzer-beater from Jalen Suggs in overtime against the UCLA Bruins.
UCLA vs. Gonzaga Final Four Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
Playing on an injured ankle, UCLA's Johnny Juzang may have played himself into being a first round draft pick with his performance in the NCAA Tournament.
Houston vs. Baylor Final Four Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
This game's matchup of elite guards will likely determine the winner. That puts some pressure on Houston's Quentin Grimes, who averages a team-high 18 points per game.
UCLA vs. Michigan Elite 8 Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
The final game of the 2021 NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight on Tuesday features No. 11 seed UCLA against No. 1 Michigan for the East Region title from Indianapolis.
Southern California vs. Gonzaga Elite 8 Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
Although he's already averaging a double-double through three tournament games, No. 6 USC will need Evan Mobley to step up even more in their Elite 8 match against No. 1 Gonzaga.
Oregon St. vs. Houston Elite 8 Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
Oregon State guard Ethan Thompson continued his fantastic run on Saturday, scoring a game-high 22 against Loyola for his second straight 20-point outing.
Arkansas vs. Baylor Elite 8 Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
Moses Moody continues to lead this team and he is a huge reason why Arkansas finished the regular season seventh in points per game and 28th in offensive rebounding.
Oregon vs. Southern California Sweet 16 Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
The Ducks have five players averaging double-digit points and they are led by standout guard, Chris Duarte, who is averaging 17 points per game.
Creighton vs. Gonzaga Sweet 16 Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
Drew Timme is looking to add some more hardware from this tournament to his trophy case. After already locking up Best Moustache of the Tournament, Timme and Gonzaga are one step closer to a chance at the title.
Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas Sweet 16 Bracket Prediction: March Madness Odds
Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor have been the heart and soul of this Oral Roberts team, combining for 59 points in the Golden Eagle's OT win over Ohio State and 54 points in the win over Florida.
How to Bet March Madness
The NCAA Tournament offers a buffet of betting options, making it one of the biggest sports betting events in the world. For NCAA Tournament rookies, don’t limit yourself to one type of wager. Take a look at all of your betting possibilities within the tournament and every matchup on the board.
Once you have your NCAA Tournament bracket filled out, you can simply look at the NCAAB matchups and make bets on who you think will win. This is called a moneyline bet. Upsets are common in the NCAA Tournament, but remember that a No. 1 seed has never lost to a No. 16 seed – at least not yet.
Point Spread Betting
A point spread is a handicap oddsmakers assign to a matchup, meaning one team will be favoured to win against another by a determined amount of points. The favoured team is always listed as with a minus (-) sign e.g. the North Carolina Tar Heels are 6.5-point favourites against the Michigan State Spartans. In this example you could bet on the Tar Heels to cover 6.5 points, meaning they would have to win the game by at least seven points. Or you could take the Spartans to cover as 6.5-point underdogs. With that bet, the Spartans wouldn’t have to win the game, they’d just have lose by six points or fewer to cover the point spread.
Total (Over/Under) Betting
Another betting option is to pick whether the total combined score of the two teams in a matchup will end up over or under the total by oddsmakers. If you bet over the a 120-point total (also called the over/under) in a game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Duke Blue Devils, you would win your wager if the two teams combined for 121 points or more. If you bet the under, you’d win your bet if the game finished with 119 total points or fewer.
NCAA Tournament Futures
If you want to take a chance picking the team that will win the 2019 NCAA Tournament, keep an eye on our March Madness futures. These odds can change from one week to the next as the tournament nears and will then change frequently once the tournament starts. In 2021, the Gonzaga Bulldogs were at the top of the odds board at -301.
When making a number of bets, you also have the option of placing those wagers on a parlay ticket to maximize your return. With a parlay bet, each of the selections you make must win in order for you to win your wager. So, if you picked four point spread bets on one ticket and only won three of those, your ticket wouldn’t cash in. Bettors also have the option of putting moneyline or total bets on March Madness parlay tickets.
Proposition bets, or prop bets, are wagers on other aspects of a game outside of the moneyline, point spread, or total. The most common prop bets are team props and player props. With these, you can make bets on how a team will perform in a particular game or the entire tournament. Player prop betting could look at how many points, assists, or rebounds a certain player might record in a game.
NCAA Tournament Live Betting
The best part of March Madness is that there’s so many games going on at the same time, making it the perfect event to use live betting, which allows bettors to bet on specific games as the game is being played. These odds will update as the game goes along, giving you countless March Madness betting opportunities.
March Madness Betting Trends and Tips
With 68 teams on the March Madness bracket, you have to start somewhere with your NCAA Tournament handicapping.
- Pay attention to rankings leading up to the NCAA Tournament. They certainly have flaws, but it’s worth noting that 21 of the last 25 teams that won the title were ranked in the top 10 in January.
- Watch out for hot teams in the conference tournaments. Many teams need to put together strong showings in their conference tourneys to punch their tickets to the Big Dance. Those are teams that come into the NCAA Tournament with confidence and are often good betting targets.
- Every year there is a team that shocks oddsmakers and bracket masters to become the tournament’s Cinderella story. If you can spot a team like that early, jump on board, but remember that fairy tales have to end at some point too. Don’t hold on to the underdog story too long.
- Coaching and experience are huge factors when betting the NCAA Tournament. When in doubt, side with the squad who has more experience in these pressure-packed situations.
- Defence wins championships and covers points spreads in March Madness betting. In most cases, the best teams play exceptional defence. Target teams that win and cover point spreads while playing under posted totals more often than not.
- Make sure not to get too caught up on tournament seeding. For example, sometimes you’ll see a No. 6 seed as an underdog against a No. 11 seeds. The Selection Committee and oddsmakers may have a completely different assessment of the same team.