March Madness Betting Guide
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 March Madness games.
There will be no shortage of options for betting on this tournament as the table indicates:
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Important dates for March Madness 2015
- First Four – March 17th and 18th in Dayton
- Second Round – March 19th and 20th
- Third Round – March 21st and 22nd
- Sweet Sixteen – March 26th and 27th
- Elite Eight – March 28th and 29th
- Final Four – April 4
- Championship Game – April 6th
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.
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
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 Kentucky, Duke, Villanova and Wisconsin 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.
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 15th of March.
As of midday GMT on Tuesday the 10th of March, Bet365 was offering the following odds on winning March Madness:
Kentucky were priced at 2.10, Wisconsin are listed at 8.00, Duke are listed at 11.00 as are Virginia and Arizona. Gonzaga are listed at 17.00 alongside Vilanova while Kansas are listed at 23.00. The betting available goes all the way out to Albany NY and Florida who are both listed at 401.0. It is clear that Kentucky 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 Tuesday the 17th of March, most sports betting fans try and allocate a period of time on Monday the 16th 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.
|League||Future Bet||Team||Best Odds||Sportsbook|
|Check out the odds of more basketball future bets in our betting guide.|
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:
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.
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.
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.