From numerous options when it comes to betting individual games to longer-term future wagers on teams making it to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four, March Madness betting offers just about anything you could ask for in a sporting event – and more.
If you could take the excitement of most Super Bowls and carry it over a three-week span with 65 different games to bet – including the First Four – then you can begin to understand how fun it is to wager on college basketball’s NCAA Tournament.
The worst part about the Super Bowl is that it is over in roughly four hours while the NCAA Tournament’s first two days of betting action is unlike anything you can imagine without experiencing it first-hand. Even for those who do not particularly love the sport of college basketball, filling out a bracket has become almost commonplace nationwide followed by praying that your national champion is still alive after the first weekend.
A single-elimination tournament means one loss and you are done, which can knock out the best teams when their shooting is off or opponents enjoy a season-best performance.
For that reason, the national champ may not always be the best team but rather the top survivor that may also draw the most favorable road to the Final Four along the way. Upsets happen on an annual basis, which is one of the main reasons why all four No. 1 seeds have only made it to the national semifinals once (2008).
That said, let’s talk about the myriad of different ways you can bet on the Big Dance…
March Madness Betting: Point Spreads
This is the most common way to wager on individual games during March Madness, picking a side to cover the point spread as a favorite or underdog. Like with other sports, if you are betting on a 3.5-point favorite, then the team must win by four points or more in order to cover.
If you are betting on the underdog in that same game, then the team needs to lose by three points or less – or win straight up. If you want to bet on a team to just win SU without worrying about covering points, then you can take the moneyline and pay a certain price instead.
March Madness Betting: Moneylines
The price on the favorite is much different than the underdog, where there can be a ton of value. For example, you may have to lay -150 on the favorite (bet $150 to win $100) while you can get +130 on the underdog (bet $100 to win $130) based on a 20-cent line.
As you can see, picking underdog winners can turn quite a profit over time, which is why many sharp bettors prefer to wager on them much more often than favorites.
March Madness Betting: Over/Under Totals
Totals involve the number of combined points scored between the two teams over a complete game, including overtime if necessary. Bettors wager over or under a number, and you can also take a total in the first or second half rather than the full game.
March Madness Betting: In-Game Wagering
This is the newest type of betting, and not all sportsbooks offer it for all games. In-game wagering is done with oddsmakers setting adjusted lines for both sides and totals throughout the action rather than just before or after a half is played. If you still like a favorite or underdog to win a game despite a large early deficit or have a much better feel for the pace after watching for a few minutes, then in-game wagering is for you.
March Madness Betting: Parlays/Teasers
These both involve betting on the results of multiple games together with a higher return on investment. The catch is that all the games need to win or push in order for you to cash your bet. A push on a three-team parlay or teaser becomes a two-teamer with a push in most instances unless you are wagering on a half-point card.
The difference with a teaser is that you get additional points on the spread, so teasing a 6.5-point favorite down three points means the team only needs to cover 3.5 points.
March Madness Betting: Futures
Whether you are betting on a team to win the NCAA Tournament before the season starts or when they get to the Final Four, futures are literally defined as wagers placed well enough in advance to offer some additional value.
Betting on the Duke Blue Devils on the March Madness odds before the tournament tips off will obviously give you a much better payout if they ultimately win than waiting to take them in the national championship game regardless of whether or not they are favored at that point.
Furthermore, you can also take teams to advance to various points of the tournament instead, like getting to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight or Final Four at shorter odds.