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 (March 18 this year), 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 will be played on March 15-17, followed by the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, and then the NCAA Tournament National Championship game, scheduled for April 2 in San Antonio.
From the First Four all the way to the NCAA Tournament Championship game, check out our printable bracket below, plus the latest college basketball betting odds and in-depth game previews with score predictions for every matchup on the board during March Madness.
March Madness Betting News
2018 March Madness Bracket
Check out our printable 2018 March Madness NCAA Tournament bracket here.
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 2018 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. There hasn’t been a clear-cut tournament favourite this year. Currently, the Michigan State Spartans, Villanova Wildcats, and Virginia Cavaliers are all tied at the top of the odds board at +550. That means a bet on any of those teams to win the tournament would return $650 total, including your original $100 bet if they do win the tournament.
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.
Seed Betting Against the Spread
No. 1 seed vs. No. 16 seed – As mentioned earlier, a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed. Expect to see point spreads of 20+ points for these matchups. There have been some close calls, but five of the last six No. 1 seeds have covered the spread in their opening game.
No. 2 seed vs. No. 15 seed – This is a hot underdog matchup recently. Four No. 15 seeds have beaten No. 2 seeds since 2012 and No. 15 seeds are riding a 4-1-1 against the spread (ATS) record heading into the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The No. 15 seed has covered the spread in about 55 percent of its matchups with No. 2 seeds since 1996.
No. 3 seed vs. No. 14 seed – Dating back to 2015 March Madness brackets, No. 14 seeds are 8-4 against the spread. However, No. 3 seeds head into the 2018 NCAA Tournament on a hot streak that has seen them go 6-0 straight up and 4-2 against the spread.
No. 4 seed vs. No. 13 seed – If you’re looking for upset picks, this matchup has seen the No. 13 team beat the No. 4 seed in 12 of the last 17 March Madness brackets. However, a No. 13 seed has never won a Sweet Sixteen game in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 5 seed vs. No. 12 seed – No. 12 seeds are a popular pick with March Madness betting and rightfully so – they’re 5-3 against the spread since 2016 and are 25-14-1 against the spread in the last 10 NCAA Tournaments. Just one No. 12 seed has ever made it to the Elite Eight.
No. 6 seed vs. No. 11 seed – No. 11 seeds have a habit of busting March Madness brackets. Those No. 11 seeds are 6-2 straight up and against the spread since 2016. Three No. 11 seeds have made it all the way to the Final Four.
No. 7 seed vs. No. 10 seed – This matchup is often a coin flip, with most games being decided by fewer than 10 points. No. 7 seeds are on a hot streak lately, winning eight of their last 12 games (7-5 ATS).
No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed – No. 8 seeds are 11-5 straight up and 9-7 against the spread in March Madness betting since 2014.