March Madness Betting Strategy:
After the Super Bowl, the NCAA tournament is the next most-bet on sporting event in the U.S. The tournament’s games draw some of the highest ratings of all sporting events in the country. As a result, there is plenty of betting action on both sides. Here are a few things to think about when placing bets on March Madness games or building a bracket.
How did a team perform down the stretch?
You can gain some perspective about a team by seeing its performance in a conference tournament. These offer a light into how a team performs in a single-elimination format. Can a team’s guards handle pressure? Can guys stay out of foul trouble? Can a team play with little to no rest? Oftentimes, teams gain momentum from their conference tournament and it carries over into the Big Dance.
Don’t end up in the doghouse with underdogs
One thing is certain in every NCAA tournament – there will be upsets. When filling out a bracket, we love to pick the underdog, the lower seed. Underdogs are fun to root for and when you pick an upset correctly, you gain an almost god-like status.
The problem is that you can get carried away picking too many upsets. If you happen to pick one and pick correctly, you can score a few extra points. When you pick wrong though, you end up sacrificing points in later rounds. The likelihood that a lower-seeded team wins its next game is even lower than its odds of winning the first. Don’t pick too many underdogs.
The same holds true in betting on individual games. It’s great to want the underdog to win, but consider the following. No seed numbered 12 through 16 has ever made it to the Final Four. No seed numbered 9 through 16 has ever played for a national title. Since the NCAA tournament went to 64 teams, 56 No. 1 seeds have made it to the Final Four.
Defense wins tournament games
Teams that play great defense usually have great success in the NCAA tournament. Virginia, which became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in 2019 season, has had trouble generating enough offense to be successful in the Big Dance. For the most part though, teams that can play defense do well in the tourney.
Teams that rely on outside shooting are prone to upsets. They can go cold and when the shots aren’t falling, they end up on the short end. Teams that are made up of veterans are usually a safe bet when betting on the spread. These teams can usually keep games close.
Underdogs play with great energy and seem to fear nothing, but this can often backfire as nerves prevent them from making shots early. This is why betting first-half Under’s has been profitable in the early rounds of the tournament.
When filling out a bracket, one should remember that more points are awarded for the later rounds. That makes it important to select the overall winner of the tourney. When building your bracket, work backwards starting with the champion and then make picks that reflect the most important and point-heavy picks in each region.
For those that like to research teams prior to filling in the bracket (something we highly recommend), put some effort into choosing the national champion. The same is true for teams that will make the Elite Eight and Final Four. More points are awarded for those later rounds and you will have better odds of winning your bracket by approaching it this way.
One thing that is key to building a bracket is to avoid overthinking the first-round. This is where there are plenty of upsets, but these games are less important in terms of actual points. Later round victories produce more points. Picking an upset in Round 1 is great, but trying to pick each and every upset will cost you points in later rounds.
To get the full explanation of March Madness visit our March Madness Explained page.