The Big Dance is quickly approaching, and many who are new to sports betting are asking us how to bet on March Madness. We wanted to create a page to help you get a grasp of the basics for the NCAA Division I basketball playoffs.
March Madness showcases the top 68 teams in a single-elimination bracket tournament for three weeks in March. 67 games will be played in that time frame, which packs a lot of betting opportunities into a tight, almost chaotic timeframe.
The teams are seeded based on their regular-season standings, into 4 divisions, with 16 teams per division. The tournament starts with the “First Four” which contests the lowest-ranked teams to determine who will win the No. 16 seeds for the first round of 64. The first and second rounds knock the competition down to the Sweet 16, then the Elite Eight, and Final Four.
The NCAA Basketball Championship will be held on March 18, 2021, in Indiana, Indianapolis.
The betting opportunities are optimal - with up to 20 games per day, you can make some bank on parlays if you are feeling risky. Selection Sunday is on March 14th, 2021 and will determine where teams are seeded and bracket contests will open up, along with betting lines. Brackets need to be submitted before the first game of the first round of the playoffs on April 3, 2021.
If you’re new to betting, read on - we have plenty of NCAA Basketball betting tips and some 101 content that can help you learn how to bet on March Madness.
March Madness 2021 Schedule
- Selection Sunday: March 14
- First Four: Tuesday and Wednesday, March 16-17
- NCAA Tournament Round One: Thursday and Friday, March 18-19
- NCAA Tournament Round Two: Saturday and Sunday, March 20-21
- Sweet 16: Thursday and Friday, March 25-26
- Elite 8: Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28
- Final Four: Saturday, April 3
- National Championship Game: Monday, April 5
March Madness Betting Types
If you’re new to online sports betting, or just betting in general and want to learn how to bet on March Madness, we recommend sticking to the three main betting types: Moneyline, Point Spreads and totals.
Of course, there are plenty more options available than just these three, like props and futures, but let’s stick to the March Madness betting basics today:
How to bet on the March Madness Moneyline
Picture this, a March Madness match up between Michigan and Villanova, and you log into your sportsbook and see these odds:
- Michigan +125
- Villanova -145
Your job is to figure out which team will win straight up. Simple enough, right?
The oddsmakers have set the odds based on who they think will win the game, and labeling the team with the negative number (in this case Villanova) the favored team to win. This makes Michigan the underdog, and if you pick them and they win, you will win $145 off of a $100 bet. If you chose Villanova, your winnings would only equate to about $68.
Betting the moneyline in March Madness is simple enough, and you are likely already doing all of the research for your March Madness Bracket, so sticking to your picks and doubling down on a few moneyline bets will make it a little more exciting!
How to Bet on March Madness Point Spreads
Betting the point spread can be a bit more tricky, but a fun bet nonetheless.
The sportsbook’s oddsmaker will decide on a spread based on the matchup, and your job is to determine if the team you select will cover the spread.
For example, if we are using the Michigan and Villanova example above, and Villanova is still the favorite and the oddsmakers project a 10 point spread, their odds would look like this:
- Villanova -10
- Michigan +10
If you think Villanova will beat Michigan by more than 10 points, pick Villanova. When it comes to Michigan, they are essentially awarded a 10 point lead before the game even starts, so for a bet on them to cash, they have to beat Villanova, or lose by less than 10 points.
This sounds easy enough, but as we all are aware, March Madness can be extremely unpredictable, and some spreads can be very low, like one or two points which can make your choice very tough!
How to Bet March Madness Totals
Betting the totals can be one of the easier options when it comes to March Madness betting, but at the same time, it can be fairly risky depending on how accurate your sportsbook’s oddsmakers are.
The oddsmakers will choose a total number of points that they think both teams will score collectively, and you have to decide if the actual total will be higher or lower than their number.
For example, if the same teams above are playing and the total is 145, and the final score was 82-71 (153) you would have won if you picked the OVER.
This wager is a great option for those who aren’t overly familiar with the teams playing and can be a great place for those who don’t follow basketball to get in on the March Madness betting action.
March Madness Parlay Bets
As mentioned above, March Madness is a great time to combine some odds together into a parlay ticket where you can maximize the odds to generate more winnings. On some days, there are 20 games per day, which can help you win BIG if you make the right picks!
To create a March Madness parlay ticket, you simply need to combine two or more of the betting types above, which combines their odds as well. You can mix some underdog point spreads with a few moneyline favorites, and a total to even out the odds and make it worth your while.
The only catch is that all legs of your bet have to cash to win. Even if one game is a push, let's say you selected the underdog on that 10 point spread, and they lost by exactly 10 points, your entire ticket is a dud.
March Madness Bracket
Most sports fans will participate in some sort of March Madness bracket contest or pool, regardless of their college basketball knowledge. Most newbies can start browsing some content from college basketball beat writers in early March, to get a good vibe of the teams, and once Selection Sunday rolls around and the teams are announced, do some more in-depth research.
Where teams are seeded will play a huge role in how your March Madness bracket pans out - as there will surely be some lopsided matchups, as well as some really big upsets. The odds of picking a perfect March Madness bracket are slim, but not impossible. Research, and following some of the shark’s leads will help you with your picks in the long run.
It’s very possible to win your pool or a contest without a perfect bracket. If you’re entering a point-based contest, you do have a margin of error but it really matters on who else is in your pool and their scores.
Our main recommendation to new March Madness bettors or even bracket players is to not pick too many upsets in the first round of the playoff tournament. Yes, it’s single elimination and there are upsets in the first round, but the main bulk of upsets don’t come until the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds.
Don’t forget to have fun with your March Madness Bracket and take a few risks!
Online March Madness Contests
If you’re looking to enter some March Madness contests, there are so many online sportsbooks that offer some fun, and even free, online contests for players who want to try their luck against thousands of other college basketball fans.
Head over to our March Madness Contests page for a more in-depth review of the 2020 March Madness contest offering from online sportsbooks.
Betting on March Madness Futures
As soon as they concluded the tournament in 2019, the March Madness Futures odds were released almost instantaneously. A futures bet is when you place a wager on a team long in advance to win the tournament, or even make it to the final four. Sportsbooks offer these with inflated odds as it’s really difficult to predict what is going to happen so far into the future.
These tickets pay out well if you do make the correct guess. And the sooner you lock in your bet, the better, as the odds continuously change during the regular season. Taking a team before they start to get hot? You could win hundreds or thousands on a $10-30 bet.
As of March 9, 2020, Heavily favored teams to win the title include:
- Gonzaga +800
- Kansas +900
- Baylor +1100
This year should be an interesting tournament because we have a rare occurrence where several teams are sitting in the +800 to +1500 range, which proves that it could be anyone’s game in the end and that makes oddsmakers nervous.
March Madness Betting Sites
Selecting the right sportsbook for your needs is one of the more daunting tasks when you decide to become a sports bettor. There are so many options available, and so many factors to consider.
Luckily, you have us to do all of the work for you. We have experts comb through and use various sportsbooks ourselves, which help us write sportsbook reviews that can help you make the right choice for your needs.
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Whether you are looking for specific deposit options, whether you can access the sportsbook in your state, or you are looking for a certain bonus type, we do it all so you can have a seamless betting experience.
All sportsbooks will be working double-time to bring you the best March Madness odds, so the competition is on. Any sportsbook we review on this site is safe, trustworthy and secure, so you don’t have to worry about losing your hard-earned cash on a sketchy sportsbook.
First thing you should consider are your state regulations when it comes to sports betting. If you reside in one of the states below, you likely can go to a casino or race track in your area and place a wager. They also allow some online sportsbooks in these states, as they’ve partnered with big names in the betting industry to help with their online presence.
If you reside in one of these states, you can legally bet on March Madness 2021:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
If you don’t live in these states, don’t worry. There are some online sportsbooks that work in most states, like Bovada that will accept your March Madness bets.
Whether you choose Bovada, or a local sportsbook option, be sure to do your research, check their terms and conditions before signing up and depositing your money.
A high percentage of bettors these days want to be able to place their wagers on the go. Finding a sportsbook with a dedicated app for smartphones can make the world of difference in your betting experience.
With a sports betting app, you can place bets from the sports bar, your living room, or even the gym. This is extremely important when betting on college basketball, as the score changes so quickly, you want to have the best, fastest and most reliable odds - especially if you’re live betting.