How to Bet on March Madness – College Basketball Postseason Betting Guide and Tips

When the U.S. sports calendar enters its most electric month, March, it’s vital for sports bettors to be prepared for all the action of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament – March Madness.

We have all the information on how to bet on March Madness online, the strategies, the right tools to employ, and more.

How Does March Madness Betting Work?

Sports betting success is predicated on owning as much information on a given subject as possible. Gaining increased understanding about March Madness betting rules helps to establish a winning edge.

Identifying the types of bets available in a given market, which we’ll explain within this March Madness betting guide, will provide further assistance toward succeeding with your NCAA Tournament betting strategy.

Once you have a grasp on how to bet on the NCAA Tournament, try it for real at BetOnline.

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March Madness Betting Types

Here, we will provide the many options you’ll find to start learning how to bet on March Madness online.

Where can you find these opportunities? Just about everywhere at any top online sportsbooks, so you’ll have plenty of options to bet on the NCAA Tournament.

Point Spreads

The classic wager, widely understood by sports fans, is the point spread.

Sportsbooks analyze teams in a given game and place a value on each team with the idea to come up with a number that makes the outcome even. The team expected to win will have to give a certain number of points while the weaker team will receive that same number of points. Along with the point spread, the sportsbook linemakers will attach odds to each option.

In a college basketball game between Tennessee State and Southern Indiana, the bookmakers decided that the favorite, Tennessee State, will “give” 3.5 points to Southern Indiana. Sports bettors who think Tennessee State would win by more than 3.5 points could bet on them; bettors who like Southern Indiana and the advantage of “receiving” 3.5 points would be hopeful Southern Indiana would win outright or lose by fewer than 3.5 points.

Our example below shows how a point-spread bet on Tennessee State would appear (highlighted in red).

Betonline spread odds

Moneyline

This is an easy-to-understand wager on March Madness games’ winning team. Before setting the “moneyline” on a given game, sportsbooks deeply analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and players involved.

To illustrate a moneyline bet, we’ll show you a game offered at BetOnline.

In the Memphis-Tulsa game, BetOnline offers -430 on the Memphis moneyline – meaning the bet is for Memphis to win the game without any point spread. Since Memphis is the favorite, the wager requires $430 to win $100 for a total return of $530 (including your initial stake).

If the Tulsa moneyline (highlighted in red) is your choice, you receive +350 odds to win the game (bet $100 and take back $350 for a total return of $450 including your initial stake).

Betonline moneyline

The Total, or Over/Under

This bet focuses only on the combined point total scored in a college basketball game.

The total in the Memphis-Tulsa game is set at 154.5, so if you believe the teams will combine to score 155 points or more, you would place a wager on the “over” in this matchup. If you believe the game will end with fewer than 155 points, you would place a wager on the “under.”

Sportsbooks frequently have complementary markets involving the over/under wager. Among the more popular options is the adjusted totals that allow you to set your own total and, with the odds also adjusted, bet the over or under that number.

Other options involving the total include the number of points combined in a half or a quarter.

In our example, highlighted in red, we’ve selected the over 154.5 as our wager on the total.

Betonline over/under odds

Halftime Bets

As mentioned in the over/under segment, halftime bets are available at most sportsbooks for betting on NCAA Tournament games for totals, point spread bets or a moneyline bet.

You have access to wagers on which team will have the lead at halftime, by how many points and whether the first-half total went “over” or “under” the listed number.

College basketball’s NCAA Tournament games are 40 minutes in length so these bets, as the name suggests, are settled at halftime – after the first 20 minutes.

Below, we’ve selected Oregon to cover the point spread in the first half against USC. In the example, you can see the odds are -115, so a $115 bet on Oregon to win the first half would bring a profit of $100 and a total return of $215.

Betonline halftime bets

Find all the options for betting on NCAA Tournament games, including the halftime score, at Bovada.

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Traditional Parlays

A parlay when betting on March Madness is selecting two or more options, or “legs,” in a combined wager. The more legs in a parlay bet, the bigger the payout.

For sports bettors with a higher tolerance for risk, betting on the NCAA Tournament using parlays is a great way to make a bigger profit. Conversely, the parlay bets have a lower success rate because parlays depend on winning every leg in a parlay bet.

In the example below, we’ve selected Idaho State, Oregon and Cal Irvine to cover their respective point spreads. By using three legs in our parlay, we have boosted the payout significantly.

Take a look at the “Betslip” in the right column of our example.

While a single bet on Idaho State covering the point spread of 1.5 points pays odds of -114 (a sports bettor must risk $114 to win $100 for a total return of $214), successfully betting all three games would return +563 (risk $100 to receive a profit of $563, a total return of $663).

Betonline March Madness Parlays

Single-Game Parlays, also known as Same-Game Parlays

Betting on college basketball brings many options. For sports fans interested in one particular game, there is no better option than a single-game – or “same-game” – parlay.

This wager works in much the same way a traditional parlay does but it requires the parlay to involve only one game. When betting on March Madness, you’ll find the same-game parlay option available at most sportsbooks.

Here, we’ve selected a same-game parlay with three legs: Oregon to win the game outright (no point spread), Oregon to win the first half outright (no point spread) and USC’s point total to be under 73.5 points for the game.

We now have a three-leg, same-game parlay with odds of +246. If all three of our legs win, a $100 bet would bring a profit of $246, an overall return of $346 including the original $100 bet.

Betonline March Madness same game parlay

Futures Betting on March Madness

A futures wager can be made before the college basketball season begins, during the season or at the conclusion of the regular season — just in time to bet on March Madness.

Find the “Futures” tab at sportsbooks offering the wager. It’s usually among the initial betting options. In the left column below, you can see “NCAAM” futures options including the team to win the NCAA Tournament, options for selecting the “Conference” to win the NCAA Tournament and more.

The leading contenders at the time of our screenshot example were Purdue and Arizona.

Betonline March Madness futures

Teasers

When considering options on how to bet on the NCAA Tournament, sports bettors frequently like to adjust the point spreads. Betting on college basketball involves point spread options of all kinds within some sportsbooks.

But betting March Madness online in a teaser format generally appears in a point-spread swing of 4.5 points for betting on college basketball.

Making a teaser bet involves selecting two individual games and making a combination wager. In the example below, we picked Weber State and Cal Santa Barbara. The point spreads are moved 4.5 points when used as a teaser bet.

Weber State was installed as a 4.5-point favorite but when used as one of the two teaser parlay wagers it became an even money bet (the 4.5 becomes zero).

The second leg, Cal Santa Barbara, moved from -2 to +2.5 in a teaser parlay bet.

To win the teaser bet, both legs have to be successful.

This bet, as you can see in the column at right, would pay 11-to-10 (bet $11 to return a profit of $10, a return of $21 when the original $11 bet is included).

Betonline teaser odds March Madness
March Madness odds

Live Bet

The NCAA Tournament famously provides virtually limitless betting opportunities. Live betting on March Madness games starts with the opening tip-off of a given game.

The bookmakers at all participating sportsbooks adjust the betting options such as the total, the point spread, the alternate lines and props as the game continues.

Decisions on line movement rest with the game’s personality: Factors depend on who has the upper hand, the favorable foul situations, the momentum from the home crowd, etc.

Best March Madness Betting Strategies

The best way to find a strong March Madness betting strategy is to be aware of current news updates with all the teams involved in your preparation and planning.

Among our keys to March Madness sports betting strategy is to be comfortable when researching key statistics and trends using tips provided here in our March Madness betting guide.

Here are a few of the best ideas to form your NCAA Tournament betting strategy:

1. Analyze current form

Among the many tips in forming an NCAA Tournament betting strategy is to have a firm understanding of how each of the teams under consideration has been performing in recent games. This knowledge helps bettors decide how to bet on March Madness.

The NCAA Tournament frequently rewards sports bettors who recognize momentum and wager accordingly. Don’t minimize the idea of a team that appears to be overachieving. Its new personality may be the new normal, and the bookmakers – and public bettors – may not have caught on just yet.

2. Take into account potential injuries

College basketball betting is made more difficult by a limited amount of access to each team’s injury situation. Whereas the NBA provides updated reports on the potential of injured players missing the game, the teams in March Madness betting will offer very little information right up until the start of the game.

When considering how to bet on the NCAA Tournament, one must try to find hints and pieces of injury information elsewhere, since official team reports won’t offer a complete assessment.

Be aware of the media outlets – especially the regular writers assigned to that team during the season – covering that game if you’re betting on March Madness. These writers are attending practices and news conferences and should be as well-informed as any news source.

The most recent injury information can prove to be a key piece to the puzzle in our March Madness betting guide.

3. Research March Madness betting matchups

As part of your NCAA Tournament betting strategy, study the schedules.

There are several large conferences among NCAA schools, so some of these teams will be facing an opponent they already have played – sometimes as many as three games (two regular-season games along with the conference’s postseason tournament).

Sports betting research like this can unearth a wagering advantage when betting on March Madness.

4. Home cooking? Check out the NCAA Tournament bracket</>strong

When considering how to rank the factors that surround March Madness, be sure to identify the sites at which a given game will be played.

How far did Team A have to travel, and will Team B have an advantage based on its followers attending the game?

As you formulate a betting strategy, be sure to use a variety of available tools including our guide to the best March Madness betting sites.

5. Adjust your March Madness betting strategy as the odds move

The odds movement when betting on college basketball tends be more volatile than betting on the NBA because more uncertainty surrounds college teams; there are more than 300 Division I schools eligible to make the NCAA Tournament each year.

Sometimes, the changes in the odds happen because of updated injury information. This can alter decisions on how to bet on the NCAA Tournament, so double check the market you are studying to take into account those updated pieces of information.

The updated news can include problems with the team arriving at the site, internal strife with players and coaches or an injury that is just now coming to light.

Tips for Betting on the NCAA Tournament

Know Your Team

If you’re a sports fan betting on the NCAA Tournament, you are likely following a team and/or a conference particularly closely. Use that knowledge to gain an advantage. Analyze small items – injuries, arguments among the coaches and/or players – the public may have missed.

Don't Bet with Your Heart'

A terrific tip for betting March Madness is to throw away the emotion. It can be difficult if you’re invested emotionally in a team, but emotion has no place in NCAA Tournament betting.

Pay Attention to Smaller Conferences

While the “power” conferences include teams that are popular, the best value could lie with teams from smaller conferences. Florida Atlantic University and San Diego State – neither from a “power” conference – made the Final Four last year.

Maintain Multiple Accounts

Managing several online sportsbook accounts for betting on March Madness enables you to shop for the best value among all the options for NCAA Tournament betting. Always be mindful not to get carried away though, and always bet within your limits. Help with problem gambling can be found at the National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG).

March Madness Schedule

All the key March Madness 2024 dates are below. But if that’s not enough and you want to do more research past results, as well as all venues and dates for future tournaments, can be found on the NCAA website.

  • Selection Sunday: March 17.
  • First Four: March 19-20 involves the last two conference automatic qualifiers and the last two at-large selections in a pair of games played in Dayton, Ohio.
  • First round: March 21-22 to be played at selected sites around the country.
  • Second round: March 23-24 to be contested between first-round winners at the same location as the teams’ first-round games.
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29 to be played by the winners of the second-round matchups at a new location.
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31 to be played by the Sweet 16 winners at the same location.
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 6 in Glendale, Ariz., featuring the four winners from the Elite Eight in back-to-back games to determine the title-game pairing.
  • NCAA championship game: Monday, April 8 in Glendale, Arizona.

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Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert

Jay is a Sports Betting Writer at Techopedia.com, and has been working in US sports for more than 20 years. He's worked for Daily Racing Form, the Arizona Republic, The Athletic and FanDuel among other sports and gambling positions.