One of the cardinal rules when it comes to betting on March Madness is promising to remain in tune with the tournament’s odds at every juncture. This isn’t specific to any part of the bracket, be it early or late. It is not specific to one type of team, be they a heavyweight favorite or demonstrative underdog. This pledge encompasses everything, from start to finish, on both the single-game and future fronts. You need to have a hold on the odds at every turn, lest you fall victim to uninformed bets that will ultimately burn you at the sportsbooks.
If this sounds ominous, it’s not supposed to. Falling out of the odds loop is a very real and ever-present danger. But you can easily avoid such issues.
This entails not only keeping up to date with game lines, but also adhering to different kinds of guidelines that help you spot potentially bad and possibly good bets.
Fortunately for you, you’re already a step ahead of the rest by simply being here. Read on, and we promise to help you navigate the minefield that is the March Madness basketball tournament.
March Madness Betting Lines Today
Start all of your March Madness betting preparation each and every day by checking out the game odds just below. These ensure you’re never being provided with outdated information, and the way every matchup is stacked on top of one another lets you scour the day’s slate, however busy, for wagers that stand out relative to others.
With this in mind, you still want to see how these lines compare to those listed at your primary sportsbooks. Most websites deal with the same odds, but they can vary as you move from oddsmaker to oddsmaker.
Lines are also prone to changing prior to opening tips. Sportsbooks are savvy when it comes to adjusting odds based on any surprise action for a specific team or bet. So as soon as you know what the lines are, it’s best to make your decision as quickly as reasonably possible, this way you’re not forced to pivot on a whim like many other bettors who end up waiting.
March Madness Best Bets
The makeup of every bracket will always impact how you approach each and every March Madness tournament, but there are a few generalities you can apply to every big dance. We go through some of them below, so you can relate them to this year’s March Madness setup.
Never Bet on a No. 16 Seed
Well, some people still fall into the trap. They see the moneyline odds for a first-round matchup between a No. 1 seed, such as the 2017 Gonzaga Bulldogs, and No. 16 seed, then decide the lucrative return is worth the risk. After all, a sixthteenth-place team has to upset a first-place squad at some point? Right?
Maybe so, but until it happens, you have no business banking on it being so. If you’ve extensively watched both the No. 1 seed and No. 16 seed in question, and you feel that, say, a 17-point spread is too large for the favorite to cover, by all means go nuts.
But in a tournament founded up on surprise outcomes, the triumph of a No. 1 seed over a No. 16 seed is the closest thing to a March Madness lock there is.
Forget About the Regular Season (For the Most Part)
Betting on underdogs during March Madness can be exhilirating and, most importantly, profitable. But you have to be smart about it.
First, you shouldnt be rolling with a noted underdog before the tournament starts. Futures are basically a sham in college basketball anyway, since they’re so damn hard to hit on, but the potential return on a universal underdog in particular isn’t worth the included risk.
It’s great that you think the 2017 Wichita State Shockers will use their 25-4 regular-season to shock (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves) the entire bracket. But that doesn’t give you enough license to test out their tournament futures. You’re better off following their progress game by game, win by win, and deciding whether you’ll be investing in their moneylines or spreads.
Regular-season performances don’t matter as much in this format. One misstep is all it takes for a favorite to be shown the door and brackets everywhere to be busted. You have to play the hot hands, investing in teams that have shown, through two or more games, they belong in your betting armory, almost irrespective of seeding.
You’re going to be high on No. 1 seeds like Villanova and Kansas. That’s fine. It’s expected. But before you draw sweeping conclusions and make substantially sized bets on their games (or futures), do yourself a solid and first see how they fare under the bright lights of March Madness. Your impression of them might change. Or maybe it won’t.
Either way, you’ll know what bets you should be making.
Know the Limitations of Underdogs
On the general underdog front, you never want to place that kind of stock in seeds lower than ninth when you get into the later rounds—say, the Sweet 16 and later.
Since 1979, the lowest-seeded team to make a Final Four is 11th. The lowest-seeded team to make a championship match, meanwhile, is eighth.
Don’t try to push those boundaries. Historical March Madness results matter. You have some creative flexibility if a 12th-seeded team makes the Final Four, since it would be an unprecedented occurrence. But don’t look to shirk these trends until they actually been shirked in real life.