March Madness Betting Strategy

It’s always important to enter the NCAA March Madness tournament with a betting strategy. So many sports enthusiasts, both casual and religious, will be wagering on the frenetic slate of games for the entire month, and you need to separate yourself from the pack—and certainly the below-average pack. Indeed, sportsbetting lore is littered with tales of the random gambler who played some long-shot odds and won despite arming himself or herself with minimal information. [+]

They didn’t watch the regular season unfold, nor did they pay an inordinate amount of attention to the early portion of the March Madness tournament. And yet, in the end, they still came out on top.

Those stories, make no mistake, are the exception to the rule, not the rule itself. If you don’t pay close enough attention to the college basketball season, both before and during March Madness, you are beyond unlikely to come out ahead at the sportsooks. 

For every anecdote featuring the lucky gambler, there are hundreds more about bettors who were burned by a lack of information or faulty planning.

Do not be one of those gamblers. In fact, you’re already on your way to avoiding such perils by coming here. Follow the advice we provide below and you will have a better chance at preparing yourself for a successful foray into the relative craziness that is March Madness betting.

March Madness Betting Tips

The first step toward successful March Madness betting is to keep track of the game lines. This can be a stressful task, given that the first two rounds of play specifically feature unending action that makes it difficult to synthesize all the information. [+]

But you can power through by simply taking stock of the lines here. These odds are usually accurate, and they’re listed in one convenient place.

Now, lines do vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, so don’t get caught up in the aggregated numbers you see listed elsewhere. Oddsmakers are also forced to adjust the lines after initially publishing them based on an unanticipated amount of action laid down on one team or particular bet.

These tweaks, however major, needn’t phase you. Simply double-check game odds at your preferred sportsbook before making any sweeping decisions, and try to be as quick as possible when submitting wagers. This will safeguard you against making investments using potentially outdated information.

playoff - Matchday 1
Match day
  • 1
Away Score Home Money Line
Monday 18 March
FT Quinnipiac Bobcats 81 - 92 New Jersey Tech +195 -227
Tuesday 19 March
FT Fairleigh Dickinson 82 - 76 Prairie View A&M -133 +114
AOT Cornell Big Red 89 - 98 Robert Morris +107 -127
FT Hofstra Pride 78 - 84 N.C. State Wolfpack +355 -417
FT IUPUI Jaguars 73 - 78 Marshall +290 -345
FT St. Francis (Pa.) 72 - 89 Indiana Hoosiers
FT Campbell 69 - 84 NC-Greensboro +395 -476
FT Lipscomb Bison 89 - 81 Davidson Wildcats +125 -145
FT Wright State 69 - 75 Clemson Tigers +595 -769
FT San Diego Torreros 60 - 74 Memphis Tigers +245 -294
FT Northridge Matadors 84 - 92 Utah Valley +535 -714
FT South Dakota State 73 - 79 Texas Longhorns +285 -345
FT Loyola-Chicago 61 - 70 Creighton Bluejays +310 -370
FT Arkansas Razorbacks 84 - 72 Providence Friars +275 -333
FT Temple Owls 70 - 81 Belmont Bruins +130 -149
FT Dayton Flyers 73 - 78 Colorado Buffaloes +180 -208
Wednesday 20 March
NCC 18:40 North Dakota State +185 -213
Wichita State 19:00 Furman Paladins
Norfolk State 19:00 Alabama
UAB Blazers 19:00 Brown Bears +105 -125
Howard Bison 19:00 Coastal Carolina +500 -667
Green Bay 19:00 E. Tennessee State +600 -833
Harvard Crimson 19:00 Georgetown Hoyas +210 -250
Southern Miss 19:00 Longwood Lancers -476 +400
Stony Brook 19:00 South Florida Bulls +290 -345
Grand Canyon 19:00 West Virginia +175 -204
Toledo Rockets 19:00 Xavier Musketeers +210 -250
Texas Southern 20:00 New Orleans -105 -115
Central Michigan 20:00 DePaul Blue Demons +225 -263
Butler Bulldogs 21:00 Nebraska +175 -204
Sam Houston State 21:00 TCU Horned Frogs +630 -833
St. John's 21:10 Arizona State +105 -125
Loyola Marymount 22:00 CBL -130 +110
Presbyterian 22:00 Seattle Redhawks +175 -204
Thursday 21 March
Minnesota 12:15 Louisville +175 -204
Yale Bulldogs 12:40 LSU Tigers +260 -313
New Mexico State 13:30 Auburn Tigers +200 -238
Vermont Catamounts 14:00 Florida State +430 -526
Bradley Braves 14:45 Michigan State +1500 -3333
Northeastern 16:00 Kansas Jayhawks +240 -286
Murray State Racers 16:30 Marquette +150 -169
Florida Gators 18:50 Nevada Wolf Pack +113 -133
St. Francis (N.Y.) 19:00 Hampton Pirates
Florida Atlantic 19:00 Charleston Southern
Abilene Christian 19:10 Kentucky Wildcats
St. Mary´s Gaels 19:20 Villanova Wildcats +175 -204
Kent State 20:00 Louisiana-Monroe
Montana Grizzlies 21:20 Michigan Wolverines +1025 -1667
Seton Hall Pirates 21:40 Wofford Terriers +132 -152
Old Dominion 21:50 Purdue Boilermakers +675 -909
Baylor Bears 21:57 Syracuse Orange +115 -135
CSB 22:00 Cal State Fullerton
Friday 22 March
Iowa Hawkeyes 12:15 Cincinnati Bearcats +145 -164
Oklahoma Sooners 12:40 Mississippi Rebels +100 -120
Northern Kentucky 13:30 Texas Tech +750 -1111
UC Irvine 14:00 Kansas State +175 -204
Colgate Raiders 14:45 Tennessee +1550 -2500
Gardner-Webb 15:10 Virginia Cavaliers
Oregon Ducks 16:30 Wisconsin Badgers +111 -132
Washington Huskies 18:50 Utah State Aggies +140 -161
Georgia State 19:20 Houston Cougars +600 -833
Liberty Flames 19:27 Mississippi State +230 -278
Iona Gaels 21:20 N.C. Tar Heels
UCF 21:40 VCU -118 -102
Ohio State Buckeyes 21:50 Iowa State Cyclones +200 -238
St. Louis Billikens 21:57 Virginia Tech +460 -556

How To Win Your March Madness Bets

Ranking as a winner during March Madness isn’t just about the bets you make. Oftentimes it’s about the bets you dont’ make. We offer you some general rules below, each of which will help put you in the best possible position to succeed when hitting up your favorite sportsbooks.

Resist Urge to Bet on Heavy Underdogs in the First Round

Yes, choosing underdogs is an important part of successful March Madness betting. But do yourself a favor and don’t get carried away.

You won’t see a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the first round. Ditto goes for a No. 15 seed against a No. 2 seed. The same logic can be applied to No. 3 seeds facing No. 14 seeds. And so on and so forth.

While these upsets have happened in the past, you don’t want to start the tournament off by heavily investing in the rare exceptions. If you have extensively watched a No. 15 seed throughout the regular season and know the No. 2 seed it’s matched up with isn’t anything special, then you’re free to submit a wager. And if you’re betting a negligible amount you plan on losing—that you maybe specifically set away for these long-shot moneylines—this is fine, too.

But you don’t want to use early-round underdogs as your primary options. That might change should they survive into the Sweet 16 or beyond. Right now, you’re better off sticking with what you know from the regular season, in addition to what you know about the rarity behind such drastic first-round upsets.

Likewise, Don’t Get Seduced by Betting Chalk

Rolling with the top-seeded teams in every matchup isn’t just a proclivity of uninformed bettors. Wise sports gamblers get caught up in the regular-season hype that fuels a No. 1 seed team as well.

This isn’t always detrimental. After all, seven of the last NCAA championships entered the March Madness bracket as a top-seeded squad.

But there are four top-seeded squads, so your odds of picking the right one are 25 percent—and that’s assuming a No. 1 seed is even destined to be champion.

Going chalk also implies that all four No. 1 seeds reach the Final Four. And that almost never happens, which ensures your bracket and/or betting strategy is doomed to bust.

Nothing changes when specifically looking at the National Championship tilt. You’re seldom dealing with two No. 1 seeds. It’s happened twice over the last 10 years, and only three times over the last two decades.

Rather than banking on first-place teams to get the job done, either before or during the tournament, consider researching some light underdogs that fall between fifth and ninth place inside their resepctive brackets. Investing in chalk outcomes might get you past the first round—plus the second round if you’re lucky—but you won’t survive the month if you get seduced by the cursory appeal of betting on the top-most seeds.

Favor March Madness Results

Regular-season performances matter when betting during March Madness. They’re your sole means of gambling in the first round, and they remain super valuable when placing wagers once the field is winnowed down to 32 teams.

But you have to weight what happens through those first two rounds more than anything once you get to the Sweet 16.

If Team A played Team B in the regular season, then yes, that’s a past result you can place stock in during the Sweet 16. But teams get hot when they’re tasked with winning only six straight games. Chances are most brackets will be busted by the time the Sweet 16 rolls around, and you’ll need to take surprise teams seriously, judging them not on how they fared during the regular season, but based off what they’ve done since beginning college basketball’s big dance.