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March Madness Betting Guide

NCAA March Madness Logo

The tournament may only last for three weeks but for some basketball betting fans, March Madness is the event that some people look forward to all year long. All the way from the First Four to the Final Four, there are over 60 games to enjoy.

Like most betting activities, a bit of luck can go a long way with March Madness but if you really want to be a winner at the Big Dance, it makes sense to be as prepared and organised as you can be.

While shocks and surprises do occur in March Madness, knowing the form guide, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of teams and thinking about the million and one other factors that make up the tournament will go a long way to helping you achieve success when you bet on 2023 March Madness games.

There will be no shortage of options for betting on this tournament as the table indicates:

Best Betting Sites for March Madness
# Betting Site Review  %BonusVisit Betting Site
1Everygame ReviewUnited StatesEverygame is a Premium Site$20 free betEverygame
2Bovada ReviewUnited StatesBovada is a Premium Site50%$250Bovada
3BetOnline ReviewUnited States 25%$1000BetOnline
4SportsBetting ReviewUnited States 50%$500SportsBetting
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Bet365 T&Cs: New Customers only. Bet £10* & Get £30* in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5* and £10* to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.

Important dates for March Madness 2023

  • First Four – March 18th and 19th
  • First Round – March 19th and 20th
  • Second Round – March 21st and 22nd
  • Sweet Sixteen – March 27th and 28th
  • Elite Eight – March 29th and 30th
  • Final Four – April 3th
  • Championship Game – April 5th
March Madness – First Four Game Schedule
Game Home   Away Date Time (CET)
Game 1 No. 16 Mount St Mary’s vs. No. 16 Texas Southern 18th of March 22:10
Game 2 No. 11 Wichita State vs. No. 11 Drake 18th of March 23:27
Game 3 No. 16 Norfolk State vs. No. 16 Appalachian State 19th of March 01:40
Game 4 No. 11 Michigan State vs. No. 11 UCLA 19th of March 02:57
Times ET are CET -5

2023 March Madness Bonuses and Promotions

Like every year when the NCAA Basketball tournaments comes closer, sports betting sites jump into the occasion to offer specific March Madness related bonuses and promotions. Here are a few that stand out to us, at some of the better online sportsbooks. Please visit the respective reviews to see if they accept bets from your country.



Intertops accepts wagers from most countries, including US. Please have a look at our Intertops review to see if your country is among the many eligible countries for Intertops.


  • 50% UP TO $250 BONUS

Bovada is a US-only online sportsbook with some of the most outstanding offers. Americans that like to bet on sports can’t go without a Bovada account. Please have a look at our Bovada review for more info before signing-up for their NCAA betting deals.

Getting the handicaps right

With 64 teams (from a total of 334 teams from Division 1 in total), taking part in the March Madness events, there will be some games between teams that are pretty tight and there will be some games that appear to be a mis-match. In the end though, there is only going to be one team that pieces together a six match winning run in these three weeks and with so many games to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming if you are determined to make the most of the betting opportunities that come your way.

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March Madness Handicapping

If you enjoy betting on basketball games, you will know that handicap betting is an integral part of betting and as soon as Selection Sunday takes place, the process of working out who will make progress begins. Sometimes deciding who will win or not is a difficult process but in the games where it appears that there is going to be a clear winner, having the chance to bet with a point spread makes every game of interest to basketball betting fans.

When a number one seed faces up to a number 16 seed, history indicates that the latter has never caused an upset in the tournament. However, for the 2014 March Madness tournament, the number 16 seeds triumphed in 3-1 in games against the top seeds with the spread. This means that there is value to be found in all of these matches and the past few years results would suggest that the outsiders are getting closer to the favourites with respect to the final scores in the early rounds.

The dominance of number one seeds versus number 16 seeds can be seen with the fact that the record currently stands at 120-0. If you think that a number 16 seed is going to smash that record, you will hopefully get some great odds!

Between 2002 and 2011, there were no occurrences of a number 15 seed knocking out a number 2 seed, but in 2012, two of these events occurred, causing quite a shock in the betting community. There was also another shock in 2013, so there have been recent enough occurrences of this type of outcome to look out for. There has been a number 14 defeating the number 3 seed in the last two years and a number 13 seed has defeated a number 4 seed in 11 of the last 14 years. When it comes to number 5 seeds versus number 12 seeds, there has only been one clean sweep for the number 5s in the last 12 years, and this came back in 2007.

This means that even in the first round, there are shocks and surprises to be had. It is unlikely a number 16 will beat a number 1, although you may find value in the spread, but as for all of the other matches, there are enough occurrences to indicate that this is an outcome that can happen in March Madness.

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Betting tips to think about

March Madness Betting Tips

There is actually a term for betting on the underdog strongly at March Madness, and it is called the Blanket Underdog Method.

What you do is in place a wager on all of the underdogs on the opening day of the NCAA tournament. Over the past 15 years, there are statistics which indicate that this offers a winning return of around 60% and there are a number of reasons why the underdogs have their day at the beginning of the major NCAA Basketball tournament. Some of these reasons include:

  • The underdogs don’t have the pressure on them to win and may be able to play more relaxed their more fancied opponents
  • There is no home crowd advantage and with many fans rooting for the underdog the lesser fancied team can receive a boost
  • These games often feature teams with no knowledge of each other and this creates a situation where it is more likely the underdog can spring a surprise
  • While teams know that there is no margin for error, it is inevitable that the teams who believe they can win the event will be looking to peak during the final week of the tournament, which may mean that they are not fully focused or at their peak for the first day

Once the first day is over and teams start to settle in to their rhythm, the Blanket Underdog method is minimised, but it can be a fun and profitable way to get the campaign off to a great start.

If you want to find other tips that may steer you in the right direction, file the following alongside backing the underdog early on:

Study the streak


Betting against the streak once it runs a run of three wins or three losses is a sensible way to approach the early rounds.

Bet under in the first round

In the first round, most teams are desperate to stay in the tournament, not wanting to get knocked out so early on. This means that the desire to not lose can be as big as, if not bigger, than the desire to win. When this happens, fewer points are scored, players are nervous and mistakes happen on both sides. All of these things mean that fewer points are scored, even in games where there is a mis-match and one team is expected to romp home

Go for the teams with the best defensive record

Crowds and TV audiences want to see points and this means that they will bet on the exciting teams who promise to score plenty of points. This means that there may be less money on the teams who play with a packed defense, so there is better value to be found with then. There is also a lot to be said for the fact that if you don’t lose points, you don’t lose games.

Can the big teams handle the pressure?

The true strength of mettle and character of the teams with a genuine hope of winning March Madness comes in how they play the occasion, not necessarily their opponent. When it comes to the crunch, can the hotly tipped teams live up to their billing? If you doubt them, back their opponents, at least on the spread if not for the overall game.

The early favourites and the March Madness Futures Market

Even before the individual conference tournaments are concluded and Selection Sunday takes place, many basketball betting fans are keen to put their money where their mouth is with respect to futures betting. The early favourites for the tournament include Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan and there are strong odds for all of these teams if you like the idea of backing one of these teams at an early date.

University of Kentucky are Undefeated

Of course, you may find that the team that you back fails to make it through to the major event. The ACC Tournament begins on Tuesday the 10th of March, and this is the first major event to get underway. There will be plenty of teams sweating it out to the end because tournaments like the Sun Belt, the Atlantic 10, the AAC, the SEC and the Big Ten not coming to a conclusion until Sunday the 14th of March.

As of midday GMT on Tuesday the 15th of March, Bet365 was offering the following odds on winning March Madness:

Gonzaga were priced at 4.25, Baylor are listed at 4.50, Michigan Wolverines are listed at 6.50, Villanova at 17.00, Ohio State Buckeyes [0]23.00[/o] as are Florida State, Ohio State and Illinois. Iowa are listed at 26.00 alongside Alabama, Houston Cougars, West Virginia and Creighton while Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns are listed at 29.00. The betting available goes all the way out to several teams with odds listed at 501.0. It is clear that Gonzaga are the early favourites for the event amongst a number of bookmakers and basketball betting sites, and it may be a shock if this team stumbles out of the tournament at an early date.

When to bet March Madness Futures

With the futures market being open now, there is no time like the present to get involved but for the individual matches, it is really best to wait until Selection Sunday. With the first game not taking place until Wednesday the 18th of March, most sports betting fans try and allocate a period of time on Monday the 15th of March to study form and develop a feel for the tournament.

Once the brackets are in place and the matches are laid out, the route a team has to the final becomes more visible, and this is the time when most sports betting fans come alive. By all means start to study form and develop some knowledge of the teams and players before then but as soon as Selection Sunday takes place, you should be looking to jump into action.

NCAA Basketball Futures
LeagueFuture BetTeamBest OddsSportsbook
Check out the odds of more basketball future bets in our betting guide.
NCAATo Win OutrightGonzaga4.25Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightBaylor Bears4.50Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightMichigan Wolverines6.50Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightVillanova17.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightOhio State Buckeyes23.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightFlorida State23.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightOhio State23.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightIllinois23.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightCreighton26.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightWest Virginia26.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightHouston Cougars26.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightAlabama26.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightIowa26.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightOklahoma Sooners29.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightTexas Longhorns29.00Bet Now
NCAATo Win OutrightWisconsin Badgers34.00Bet Now
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Different types of March Madness bets

One of the best things about this three week carnival of basketball is the fact that there are so many bets you can place, and here is a run-down of the available bets:


March Madness Futures Betting

As already discussed, the futures betting market is when you place a bet on who you think will win the tournament. In this case, a futures market for March Madness is you placing a bet on the team you think will win the Championship game being played on the 6th of April.

Point spread

The most common form of bet in basketball and NCAA March Madness is betting on the point spread. An example would be:

  • Creighton -7.5
  • Kansas +7.5

In this bet, Creighton is considered to be the favourite and if you take this bet, you will need them to win by 8 points for you to win. This is because the 8 point winning margin is big enough to take care of the -7.5 handicap, which means that they win the bet for you.

If you think the game will be closer, and you bet on Kansas, you will win if Kansas wins the game OR if Kansas loses the game by 7 points or less. In that instance, say the score was Creighton 77 – Kansas 70, the handicap of +7.5 would see Kansas win by a score of 77- 77.5 in the bet.

Total bets

March Madness Totals Betting

This is a bet where you wager on how many points will be scored in a game. It doesn’t matter what team wins or how the spreads are out, you are betting on the total number of points scored. An example would be:

  • OVER 206.5 at odds of 1.90
  • UNDER 206.5 at odds of 1.90

If you think it will be a high scoring match with at least 207 points, you should wager OVER 206.5 and if you think this is too high and that the maximum amount of points scored will be 206, wager UNDER 206.5.

A game that finished Creighton 106 – Kansas 102, would contain a total of 208 points and this means that wagering OVER 206.5 would be the winning bet. A game that finished Creighton 102 – Kansas 100 would contain a total of 202 points and this means that wagering UNDER 206.5 would be the winning bet. In both of these outcomes, Creighton won the game, so this has nothing to do with the success or failure of your bet, the only element that matters is total points scored.

Half-time wagers and half bets

This is a simple bet, run along the same lines as the point spread but it only refers to the first half of the game or the second half of the game, not the entire game itself. If one team has a record of starting strongly, favouring them in the first half makes sense. If you think one team is much fitter than their opponents and will end strongly while their opponents tire, favouring them in the second half makes sense, and this is where half bets can help you to turn a profit.

Live wagering and prop bets

Online and mobile betting has transformed the way we can interact and engage with live games, and there are plenty of live bets and prop bets to look out for. While these bets are similar in what you can bet on, live bets occur while the game is taking place, allowing you a lot more opportunities while a prop bet is paled before the match begins.

Examples of prop bets include:

  • Who will win the tip off
  • Which player will score first
  • Who will be the first team to score 10 points

For live bets, you can add bets of:

  • Which player will score next
  • Who will be the next team to reach a certain benchmark of points (usually in multiples of 10)
  • Which team will score the next dunk
  • Which player will score the next three pointer

With these bets, there is a lot to be said for watching the game while you bet because it adds to the excitement but it also provides you with the chance to gauge how the game is going.

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