March Madness Betting: There is a lot more to March Madness than just tournament brackets. March is one of the largest betting months in the United States. With over 63 college basketball games to be played over a three-week span the opportunities to make some extra cash are plentiful.
This article will provide strategies on how to maximize return on bets and teach some useful tips that sharps use when betting March Madness.
Tip #1 Cream of the Crop Rises to the Top
Below is a list of the 10 most recent National Champions. The teams seeding and who eventually wins speaks for itself.
- 2019: Virginia – 1 seed
- 2018: Villanova – 1 seed
- 2017: UNC – 1 seed
- 2016: Villanova – 2 seed
- 2015: Duke – 1 seed
- 2014: UConn – 7 seed
- 2013: Louisville – 1 seed
- 2012: Kentucky – 1 seed
- 2011: UConn – 3 seed
- 2010: Duke – 1 seed
In the past 10 years, the number 1 seed has won the tournament 7 times. The greatest outlier is UConn winning as the 7th seed. As wacky as March can be and as much as fans love the Cinderella story, you shouldn’t waste the money betting beyond the teams in the top 5 of the odds ranking.
- Gonzaga (+220)
- Baylor (+400)
- Michigan (+500)
- Illinois (+1000)
- Houston (+1800)
- Iowa (+1800)
Tip #2 Best Teams Are Balanced Teams
This is a pretty simple strategy but it helps when doing research prior to any March Madness game. A balanced team is essential to make a run through March, A good team can’t be one-dimensional and expect to go far.
This is also a good metric to find possible upsets. A high seeded team that is balanced offensive and defensively can attack the weak point of a lower-seeded but less balanced team.
Here is a list of the top seeds from each region along with their offensive and defensive efficiency rankings according to KenPom.com, a site created to archive and track college basketball statistics.
|Region||Team||Offensive Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency|
|East||Michigan||120.1 (6)||87.9 (7)|
|South||Baylor||124.0 (3)||93.0 (44)|
|West||Gonzaga||126.8 (1)||88.8 (10)|
|Midwest||Illinois||119.7 (7)||87.6 (5)|
Combining strategy #1 and #2 here can prove to be very useful. Baylor has the second-best odds to win the championship but they are unbalanced as a team. Baylor has the 3rd best offensive efficiency but the 44th ranked defensive efficiency so it would be wise to avoid them when betting championship odds. But value comes by way of a possible upset spot against a more balanced team.
Tip #3 Good Teams Win, Great Teams Cover
Eight of the last nine March Madness winners have covered in over 55% of their games in their respective championship seasons. For once, 2014 UConn isn’t the outlier in this trend. It’s Kentucky in 2012, which went 38-2 but was sub-.500 ATS because of sky-high expectations.
Be wary though, simply blindly betting the teams with the best ATS records on the year isn’t the way to go. It is wise to reference these numbers when picking championship teams. A good win record on the year and ATS record combined makes for a quality team.
|Champion||ATS Cover Rate||Year|
Tip #4 Coaching is Everything
Having experienced players and high-level talent is important for any March Madness team but the players need to be placed in a position to utilize their strengths. This is where having a good coach comes in and can make all the difference.
Tip #5 Fade the Public
March Madness is one of the biggest stretches of betting in the United States each year. People come out from everywhere to wager money on the tournament. Vegas and sharp bettors know this all too well and the lines will adjust to compensate. Some popular trends that go unnoticed by the inexperienced public are:
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. 2 seeds have notoriously been upset. Their record is 73-88 overall in tournament play which equals 45.34%
Lucky No. 7 wins at a high record coming in at 57.68%