Besides the NFL Super Bowl, there's no single sports event inside the United States that's more gambled on than the NCAA March Madness tournament. It's hard to put an exact number on how much money is bet on March Madness, but the figure is estimated to be well into the billions of dollars. If you're reading this, chances are you want in on the March Madness betting yourself.
Welp, you've come to the right place. Over the course of this guide, we'll give you all the know-how on how to bet on March Madness — sportsbooks, promotions, types of wagers, and even some March Madness betting strategy for success.
Before we get started, here's the latest March Madness odds. These are current as of April 14, 2021, and obviously, will be in flux once the NCAA basketball season gets underway.
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Top Sportsbooks For March Madness Bracket Betting
The NCAA Tournament is the pinnacle of college basketball — the top 68 teams in the nation, duking it out in a single-elimination tournament. That win-or-go-home format is why it's earned the "March Madness" moniker. All 67 games are contested within a three-week span so March Madness bracket betting opportunities everywhere come tourney time.
To capitalize on all these opportunities, you'll need an online sportsbook that carries all the March Madness gambling odds under one roof. In that regard, plus other bettor-friendly features, these next three sportsbooks should be atop every bettor's to-join list:
BetOnline's March Madness' Lines
Bettors far and wide rave about BetOnline's bet selection. It's all-encompassing — no matter the sport, league, or country. That certainly applies to the bookie's March Madness bets, too.
You name the March Madness bet type — moneyline, in-play, props, futures, etc. — and it's there for the taking at BetOnline. Not only that, but the prices are top-of-the-line, almost mimicking the odds you'll find from powerhouse Las Vegas casinos.
March Madness Bets at BetNow
Loyalty is a big part of BetNow's charm. The bookie offers a "lifetime VIP" program to its players. Every time a bettor re-ups their account on BetNow, they're eligible for an additional 10 or 15 percent bonus. To earn the deal, simply fund your account for the first time. If that initial deposit is at least $500, you qualify for the 10-percent deal, while a deposit of $2000 or above earns the 15-percent promo.
This loyalty program really pays off while in March Madness. With the sheer amount of betting options available, there's a good probability you'll need to re-add funds to your account. If so, why not earn extra free play out of it? Of course, this loyalty service can be used year-round at BetNow, even beyond the NCAA tourney.
BetUS has Huge March Madness Pools
BetUS always has a great welcome bonus. They let you choose between 100% and 125%. Of course these come with different rollover requirements and maximum payouts. Every choice comes with its advantages and disadvantages. We love being able to choose.
They have a total of one million dollars in prizes for their March Madness brackets. These are given out both for pools and perfect brackets.
March Madness Bonuses And Contests
We'd be amiss not to mention the plethora of promotions available during March Madness. Sportsbooks roll out their biggest and best deals of the year right before the tournament starts as they try to lure bettors to its site for the tourney. Some of our personal favorites are the following:
- BetOnline: This sportsbook has a $100,000 March Madness pick-em contest. With an entry fee of just $15, players submit their bracket picks and contend for 300 different prizes. The grand award, however, is a $15,000 reward for the best bracket picker.
- BetNow: You'll also find a bracket challenge at BetNow. However, this one is free of cost. Dubbed the "Million Dollar March Madness bracket", there are 30 prizes up for grabs, none bigger than the $350,000 stake for the top bracket entrant.
- BetUS: Win a million bucks by pulling off the nearly impossible. For a perfect March Madness bracket, they will give you a million dollars. For a perfect top eight, you will get $10k.
You're in good hands at any of the aforementioned sportsbooks. For a complete list of betting site recommendations, check out the table below. Included are long-form reviews and sign-up bonus details.
March Madness Betting Games
In simple terms, you can place March Madness betting games into one of two buckets — daily and futures wagers. Here's what you need to know about each:
Like we mentioned before, there are 67 different games in the NCAA Tournament. Each of those will come with the following bet types that can be made both pregame or in-play:
- Moneyline: This wager is as simple as picking which team will win outright. Typically, moneyline odds will be more lopsided in the early-round games (e.g. one seed versus 16 seed), before becoming more neck-and-neck in the final rounds.
- Spread: This bet adds a "handicap" to each team. Therefore, the favorite must win by a certain point-spread, while the underdog must keep the game within that same spread, if not, win outright.
- Over/under: Nevermind who wins and by how much points, over/under is a gamble on how many points will be scored by both teams combined by either halftime or game's end.
- Props: Some of March Madness best bets are props. These are essentially "side wagers" on specific outcomes within games. Prop examples included which player will make the most three-pointers or even, what color tie a coach will wear.
Perhaps the most popular way to bet on March Madness is via a futures bet. Typically, this is a wager on which team will win the entire tournament. Remember those odds to win the NCAA championship from earlier? Welp, those are future odds.
As the name implies, futures wagers are made well in advance. Most bettors place a futures bet before the regular season starts and again before March Madness.
Obviously, picking the exact team in a field of 68 to cut down the nets is a high-risk, high-reward play and the odds reflect that. Our advice is to spread your money around on a few different teams. This acts as an "insurance" per se and if one does indeed pan out, the winnings from that will more than makeup for the losers.
March Madness Betting Tips
Over the years, we've learned a thing or two about winning at the best bets March Madness. This know-how has come from personal experience and observing other players so without further ado, here are some must-follow March Madness betting tips:
Ride The Hot Hand
Timing is everything when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. The teams that are peaking at the right time tend to steamroll through its bracket. Similarly, the opposite applies to shaky teams entering the field.
More than anything, we attribute the phenomenon to confidence. If a team's strung a few wins together to end the season, it starts believing it can make a deep run. And folks, believing is half the battle — especially under the bright lights of March Madness.
Making Picks Based On Reputation Alone
Far too often, we see bettors get swept away by the sport's hoopla. This manifests itself in a few ways. One, they automatically assume a prestigious program — think Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky — will "run the table" based on its history alone. Two, bettors fall in love with a "one and done" prospects that are NBA bound. Or three, both those examples dovetail (e.g. Zion Williamson's single-season at Duke).
Don't let the hoopla get to you — no matter what ESPN or social media is ablaze about. Any betting pick you make during March Madness should be based on research and data, not hype.
March Madness Schedule
In a history-setting move, the NCAA Tournament was canceled for the first time ever in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For now, the 2021 March Madness event is still on the books. Mark these tentative dates on your calendar:
- Selection Sunday: March 14
- The First Four play-in games: March 16 and 17
- Opening round: March 18 and 19
- Second round: March 20 and 21
- The Sweet 16 round: March 25 and 26
- The Elite 8 quarterfinal round: March 27 and 28
- The Final Four semifinal round: April 3
- The National Championship game: April 5
Of course, dates are subject to change, especially if the NCAA regular season is delayed to due to the pandemic once again.
Other March Madness Resources
While we covered the "meat and potatoes" of March Madness betting just now, we have more resources for bettors looking to get an edge. Check out these other betting guides:
- March Madness odds: A complete breakdown of all the gambling odds you'll find while wagering the NCAA Tournament.
- March Madness bracket predictions: A crystal ball looks into what'll play out in the upcoming March Madness tournament.
- March Madness favorites: Which teams are the betting favorites heading into March Madness? Find out here!
- March Madness futures: We covered futures betting briefly earlier, but this is a more in-depth look at how to win at March Madness futures wagers.
- March Madness locations: Get the lowdown on which cities and arenas will host the upcoming March Madness bracket games.
- March Madness tickets: And lastly, if you want to be there live to witness March Madness, check out this ticket-buying guide.