March Madness Betting Guide – How To Bet On The NCAAM Tournament

Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
12 minute read
March Madness Betting Guide

It’s time to wager on March Madness, and we are here to help you place bets like a pro.

If you want to join in and bet on the March Madness tournament, our in-depth guide gives you full-court coverage.

We give you the latest odds, up-to-date favorites, expert betting strategies, the best wagers to place, and our top recommended sportsbooks to get in on the action.

This NCAA Basketball Tournament is the second largest betting event of the year. So get ready to join the thousands of Americans that love March Madness and place your bets!

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March Madness Betting Odds To Win The Championship

Wondering who are the most favorites and least favorites to win the Big Dance? Here are the current odds of winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament:

NCAAB TeamOdds To Win
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Betting On March Madness 2024 – General Info

NCAAB March Madness Betting Logo

March Madness is one of the biggest and best sporting events of the year.

The NCAA tournament starts on March 12th and will conclude with the Championship game on April 3 at the NRG Stadium, Houston, TX.

Here’s the tournament’s schedule:

  • Selection Sunday: Sunday, March 12
  • First Four: March 14-15
  • First round: March 16-17
  • Second round: March 18-19
  • Sweet 16: March 23-24
  • Elite Eight: March 25-26
  • Final Four: April 1
  • NCAA championship game: April 3

How Does March Madness Betting Work?

You can bet on anything related to the NCAA Basketball Tournament. From betting on the winner of a specific game to betting early on the future champion for a bigger payout.

Prop bets will allow you to wager on things that are not related to the winner of a game (these are fun and profitable).

Read on to learn how to bet, where to bet, and what are the best bets to place.

How To Bet On March Madness Games (Step By Step)

If you are looking to bet on the Big Dance, follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose A Sportsbook

    Pick from our list of trusted March Madness betting sites from the legit sportsbooks we recommend.

    Unsure about what website is the best? We already did all the homework for you. Go with BetOnline.
  2. Create An Account

    Search for the “join now” button. It’s usually on the website’s top menu. Use your factual information when filling in all the blanks.

    If you use false info, you may not be able to withdraw your winnings because sportsbooks ask for proof of ID.
  3. Make A Deposit

    Go to the banking section and select your preferred deposit method.

    When adding money to your account on your first deposit, add as much as you can so you can take full advantage of the Welcome Bonus.

    Pick the amount of your deposit and select a bonus available in the banking section. Then hit submit.
  4. Start Betting

    Once the money hits your account, you can start betting on March Madness games.

    Browse through the odds and pick a bet you like. Decide how much to bet and confirm. Now you are in the action!

Watch The Video Version!

Where To Bet On March Madness Online

Want to safely bet on the Big Game? Here are the top 3 sites to bet on the tournament. You can’t go wrong with any of these:

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Don’t Forget To Use The Best March Madness Bonuses

NCAAB Tournament Betting Strategy & Tips

If you’re looking to bet on the NCAA Basketball Tournament this season, the following tips will allow you to place more profitable bets.

Betting Tip #1Fading The Public

Wagering Limit Icon

This first betting tip has its advantages and disadvantages as a basketball bet, but the NCAA Tournament can be a spot to consider fading the public.

The amount the NCAAB public bets on the tournament is exponentially more than what they wager during the regular season or during conference tournaments. Interest in college basketball peaks in March.

The public isn’t usually moving the line much when two unranked teams play during a random regular-season game. The opposite is true when a No. 15 takes on a No. 7.

The Audience Loves Betting on Favorites

We know the public loves to bet favorites. Savvy bettors should look for spots to fade public teams, particularly those ranked in the Top 25 Associated Press Poll.

Teams that played hard throughout their conference tournament to get to March Madness are another spot you should look to target.

They are often tired, both physically and mentally, and may have a general bias based on their recent performance.

Betting Tip #2Performance Down The Stretch

Handicapping icon

Another pitfall you should avoid falling into is the trap of weighing overall record too highly when handicapping NCAA basketball games or evaluating teams in the tournament.

The overall record does matter, but how the team is playing coming into the tournament (last few games and conference tournaments) is perhaps something to weigh a bit more heavily when it comes to predicting performance.

It is extremely rare to see a team come into the tournament playing terrible basketball and end up running the table. Keep an eye out for how a team is playing coming into the tournament.

Betting Tip #3Monitor Teams’ Travel Schedules

cogs icon

Another March Madness betting tip worth considering deals with travel schedules.

Most tournament games are effectively road games for both teams, but depending on the location, one side may have an advantage.

As discussed later in this article, that advantage is certainly priced into the odds.

Watch Out For The Traveling Fatigue

However, fatigue from traveling can still be something to keep in mind. Many schools travel a considerable amount of hours for their first game of the tournament.

In many cases, this is also after finishing out a conference tournament. This can undoubtedly add up to tired legs and missed jumpers.

In fact, if we’re going to look for something from the regular season, it would be road records. The environment of a tournament game is essentially a road game for both teams.

That doesn’t make a lot of sense on its face, but if you consider that both sides are playing on neutral ground, far from their home court – it’s perfectly logical.

Betting Tip #4Bankroll Management

NCAA Basketball Bankroll Management

One of the most crucial march madness betting tips and most often overlooked is bankroll management.

Being super into the tournament from a fan perspective is excellent, but sometimes that translates into betting too many games. Just because it is the tournament, it doesn’t mean you need to bet more.

Manage your bankroll correctly and look for advantages in the odds. Don’t bet for the sake of having action.

Betting Tip #5Defense & Rebounding

basketball icon

Defense and rebounding in NCAA basketball are essential and it is another March Madness sports betting strategy we recommend.

That should be obvious, but there’s a reason we should focus on these areas when evaluating our NCAA tournament betting ideas, compared to offensive firepower.

For one, most of the teams don’t know each other or haven’t faced off in the regular season. Offenses might not translate well against specific defenses.

What may be a strong point against the competition in the regular season may suddenly become a weakness in the tournament, depending on the matchup.

Defense Over Offense

Offensive firepower also just simply isn’t as consistent as defensive intensity. On some nights, the shots just aren’t falling. There is an element of luck to the offense, while a strong defense can be played much more consistently.

The same goes for rebounding. Sure, there are going to be times when a team is going to be overmatched on the boards, but consistent rebounding leads to second-chance buckets and fewer opportunities for opponents.

Teams that have consistently played solid defense and have rebounded well offer more consistency and predictability when it comes to handicapping a game.

Betting Tip #6“Homecourt” Advantage

Homecourt Advantage Betting Strategy

This seems to be a mistake of just about every amateur sports bettor when it comes to wagering on March Madness.

Every year, there are one or several teams that happen to play in a region that is close to their home court.

This makes it much easier for fans of the school to travel to the game. NCAA basketball bettors, for some odd reason, don’t think this is factored in by the oddsmakers.

You’re playing right into their hands regarding public bias and the fact that one team may have more fans in the stadium compared to another. This is something that is integrated into the opening line.

Betting Tip #7Tournament Trends

Our last March Madness betting tip revolves around tournament trends. They should be taken with a grain of salt.

Trends don’t usually mean much, but there have been some historical trends with the seeding position that can be looked at for potential betting opportunities.

The most notable outlier in seeding is the No. 5 vs. No. 12 seed in the first round. No. 5 seeds are 76-44 against No. 12 seeds since 1985, which amounts to just over a 63% winning percentage.

No. 5 Seed – The Eternal Underdogs

This doesn’t take into account against-the-spread numbers, but the No. 5 seed is always going to be underdogs and sometimes large underdogs. At least one No. 12 seed has won a game in the tournament for the past 20 years.

There are some other matchups to look at, but none of them are overly conclusive. No. 9 seeds hold a slight advantage over No. 8 seeds, but these games are usually very evenly matched.

Best March Madness Bets You Can Place

When it comes to the best March Madness bets, there are a host of wagers available aside from traditional bets (such as sides, totals, and moneylines).

Here are some of the most popular bet types:

Proposition Bets

March Madness Prop Bets

March Madness prop bets are wagers that are not related to the final score or outcome of the game (which team wins or loses and by how much).

Instead, they’re things like “Which team will score first” or “Which team will get 20 points first”.

There are also team-specific propositions, such as the number of three-pointers a team might make in a game (over/under) or the number of points a team might score in a game, known as “team totals.”

Player props are like team propositions in that they are mostly totals, such as the number of points a player scores in a game or his number of rebounds + assists.

March Madness Futures Bets

March Madness futures betting

There are many different futures for the NCAA Tournament, with the most common being which team will win the National Championship.

NCAA Basketball Future Bets markets can cover all parts of the tournament, such as if a team will make it to the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four.

Bettors will also be able to wager on which teams will win each region of the tournament and more.

March Madness Live Betting

March Madness Live Betting

Live betting or in-play betting during March Madness is about as good as it gets for sports bettors.

Sides, totals, moneylines, and even live player props can be wagered live.

March Madness features so many games at once that live betting is one of the best ways to wager on the tournament.

It’s one of the best ways to beat sportsbooks that sometimes can’t keep up with the action and update the odds fast enough.

March Madness Moneylines

March Madness moneylines

Moneylines are wagers on which team will win the game outright.

There is no point spread with moneylines. Bettors only need to pick the outright winner of the game.

Moneyline odds are expressed in American odds format, such as -120 and +140.

This is probably the best betting market for beginners for its simplicity.

March Madness Point Spreads

March Madness point spread betting

Wagering on college basketball point spreads is the most popular form of betting on college basketball and March Madness.

Spreads are the handicap between both teams, such as +6.5 and -6.5.

You would bet on a team winning for more or less of the number of points set by the sportsbook in their lines.

Gamblers can bet on either side, the favorite or the underdog.

March Madness Over/Unders and Totals

March Madness Totals betting

The total or over/under is the number of points scored in the game by both teams.

Bettors can wager over or under the oddsmaker’s number of points in the game.

This can also be expanded to first-half or second-half totals.

If you want to learn more, read our guide on College Basketball totals.

Betting On March madness Tournament Stages

Placing Bets On The Sweet 16

Reaching the Sweet 16 is the first significant milestone obtained by teams during the March Madness tournament. The best 16 schools will square off to stay in contention.

The good thing about betting on the Sweet 16 is you already have information about all teams. To reach that point, those squads should have won the first two games in the tournament.

If you paid attention, you should know how to handicap each team and which Cinderella stories will run out of gas.

Placing Bets On The Elite Eight

The Elite Eight is where the tournament separates the contenders from the pretenders. Here’s where most small schools max out, and their story ends.

The Elite Eight round doesn’t have the glamour of the Final Four or the excitement of the Sweet 16, but it’s an excellent opportunity to bet on favorites.

The most prominent schools will use this round to show their best performances. A win will propel them to the Final Four, where anything can happen.

Placing Bets On The Final Four

The Final Four gets played in a different city as the last four teams in the tournament look to reach the final.

The Final Four is a big event by itself. The schools playing in this round are usually big brand schools that have prepared for this moment for months.

Betting on the Final Four is about finding the best matchups and understanding who can handle the massive pressure around the games.

Placing Bets On The Championship Game

Despite the randomness of the early stages of March Madness, the Championship game usually has the two best teams in College Hoops.

Betting the championship game, like in most sports, is about understanding who has the upper hand in the different matchups. Also, wager on prop bets surrounding the best players in the game.

Once the championship game hits the calendar, we should have all the information about the players, the team’s trends, and anything that will help us bet on the right side.

March Madness 2024 Bracket Template

If you love college hoops, laying down a bet and encouraging some friendly competition among your friends during March Madness is a great way to enjoy the tournament.

When you have gotten a group together, you can print our March Madness bracket.

NCAA Basketball Tournament History

March Madness Basketball Betting History

“March Madness” began in Illinois in the late 1930s. The University of Oregon defeated Ohio State University 46-33 in the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Back then, “The Road to the Final Four” wasn’t much of a road at all. For the first 12 years of the tournament, only eight teams were invited to play.

It wouldn’t be until 1951 that the number began to grow. Over the decades, it expanded further, and in 2001, the tournament was expanded to 65 teams, with a “play-in” game for the 64th and 65th-seeded teams.

The last expansion to the tournament was in 2011, when it expanded to 68 teams, which added another play-in game. Only time will tell if the tournament expands further.

Based on the increased public interest and television ratings, that is always a possibility, and with that, more betting opportunities arise.

March Madness Betting FAQ

How Does March Madness Work?

The NCAA Basketball Tournament (March Madness) is a single-elimination tournament played by 68 teams. There are several rounds to the tournament and teams get whittled down to the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and ultimately, a National Title game that crowns a champion.

Where Can You Watch March Madness?

The NCAA official site offers a live streaming service to watch the games online, but you still must have a cable subscription to watch the games.

Every game of the tournament is televised these days. They are broadcasted on a number of networks, including CBS, TruTV, TNT, and TBS.

Can You Bet On March Madness?

Yes, you can bet on the tournament. It’s completely legal, and you can do it either locally or online. We prefer the latter for convenience and the advantage of having betting bonuses.

Who To Bet On March Madness?

The current favorites to win are the Houston Cougars, with +750 odds. That means if you bet $100 on them to be the future champions and they win, you’ll get paid $750 plus the $100 you invested.

How Much Money Is Bet On March Madness?

We are talking about billions of dollars. In 2022, 3.1 billion dollars were bet on March Madness. In 2019 the betting handle was around 8.5 billion dollars.

Which Team Has Won The Most March Madness Tournaments?

The UCLA Bruins have the most March Madness Championships, with 11 tournaments won.

Make Sure To Read Our College Basketball Betting Guide

About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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