How To Bet On March Madness

You can have the Super Bowl. You can have the World Series. Heck, you can even have the NBA and NHL playoffs! Give me the NCAA Tournament and all the March Madness betting that goes along with it seven times a week and twice on Sunday!

The fever pitch for this year’s tournament has been taken up a few notches now that sports betting is up and running in the state of Virginia. That means residents of The Commonwealth are now readily able to legally wager on the 2021 NCAA Tournament provided extenuating circumstances don’t prevent it from going off as planned. Though games, props, and futures for teams based in the state of Virginia that punch tickets to the dance will be off-limits, it’s open season for all teams from every other state. Hopefully, that issue is rectified down the line.

Regardless, Virginia residents should be psyched about the ability to wager legally on March Madness outcomes both online and at retail locations. One of the most exhilarating wagering spectacles of the year is now yours for the taking; so lace up those Converse All-Stars and get in the game!

Best March Madness betting sites in VA

DraftKings Sportsbook and its odds boosts and missions are now up and running in Virginia after FanDuel Sportsbook and its uber-popular same game parlay option initially got the party started a few days prior. If yet to open an account with either of them, Virginia residents best make it a point to sign up online immediately to take advantage of attractive bonus offers as well as what will undoubtedly be a myriad of imaginative ways to make some easy money initially.

Recent campaigns have been offered that allowed a $1 wager to turn into $100 so long as a team scored a single run, touchdown, or point in the targeted matchup. No-brainer bets and odds boosts have allowed for millions across the country to fatten their bankroll up almost immediately; Virginia should be no different.

Other sportsbooks likely to open their doors both at retail and online levels in the near future include BetRivers, Caesar’s, BetMGM, William Hill, and a host of others associated with Indian Tribes. In other words, sports bettors in the state of Virginia will have a spoil of options to do business within the very near future.

March Madness betting strategies & tips

With the Field of 68 set, linemakers will be rushing to get betting lines posted for all 67 games set to play out over the next month. Sounds like quite the chore, right? Wrong! Those setting the lines now have an extensive knowledge of where every team in the tournament excels and falters. They likely know more about every team than you! The March Madness betting lines will be tight. Oftentimes you’ll come away amazed as to how a last-second free throw decided the betting outcome of a game or a drained 3-pointer at the gun allowed for the combined score to just go over the closing number. But don’t let that sway you from jumping into the March Madness betting waters in hopes of churning out a profit.

There’s money to be made, but you must play within your means and pick your spots. Just because there’s a plethora of games with countless wagering options attached to each and every one of them, it doesn’t mean you have to bet the board. It’s all about quality over quantity. You could get lucky by betting every matchup the first week of the tournament one year, but results like those never really carry over year-to-year. Follow some of these tips and you’ll likely add to your bottom line. More importantly, you won’t go belly up the first day!

Target defensive dominators

If one of the best offensive teams in the country is squaring off against another ranked in the middle of the pack but owns by far the better of the two defenses, you’re going to want to back the team with the much better defense. As fun it is to bet on teams that can fill the hoop with reckless abandon, it’s not a given it will be able to do the same thing on a neutral court in a one-and-done setting. Defense travels! You never have to worry about a defense pivoting from its regular-season tendencies when March Madness betting.

Location, location, location

With venues now staggered in every region, you’re best-served targeting teams playing closer to home than that of its opponent. Fanbases of those respective teams will be more willing to travel in mass provided the venue is relatively close to home. Having a rabid group of fans cheering a team on could go a long way in helping said team overachieve if taking on a powerhouse, or lay the wood to a lesser opponent over the course of the game’s entirety.

Check biases at the door

So you’re a big fan of the Virginia Cavaliers. Awesome! Tony Bennett loves having you on board. Still, don’t let your love of the Wahoos cloud your judgment when betting on their games come March Madness. Just because you think the team is unbeatable and should have an easy go of it against a team you’ve never heard of, it doesn’t mean you should unload your account on them minus the points. You remember what happened when UVA went off the board as 20.5-point favorites against the UMBC Retrievers back in 2018, right?

How do NCAA March Madness brackets work?

Even before March Madness betting was deemed legal in The Commonwealth, you likely filled out a bracket every passing tournament. Little did you know, you were partaking in a form of sports betting even though it wasn’t deemed “legal.” Shhhhh, we won’t tell! Regardless, filling out a bracket is a god given right and it’s undoubtedly something you’ll be partaking in once March rolls around for the entirety of your life.

For the few reading this not in the know, March Madness brackets allow for you to map out the course of how the upcoming tournament plays out. You got four 16 team regions. The ultimate goal is to correctly predict as many winning matchups as possible with the ultimate goal of predicting the overall winner. Points are accrued with every correct winner chosen. The bracket that tallies the most points at the end of the tournament would take home the top prize. If you don’t partake in a home pool of sorts, it’s highly likely online and retail sportsbooks will be offering some sort of bracket tournament come March of 2021. Be sure to check it out as you might even score a nice deposit bonus for March Madness betting as well!

Popular bets for March Madness

The most common bet types when wagering on March Madness outcomes are the point spread, moneyline, and total.

The point spread is basically a handicap linemakers bestow upon one team over the other so as to level the playing field and create a fair market that caters to both sides. If one team is favored by 10 points over the other, that team would need to win by 11 or more points to cash a ticket. On the flip side, the team receiving those 10 points would either need to win outright or lose by nine or fewer points to get their supporter back to the window to cash a ticket.

A moneyline wager takes the handicap out of the equation. Teams only need to win the game outright instead of by a certain number of points to cash a ticket. With that, bettors are expected to pony up more cash to win less on favorites, and less cash to win more on underdogs.

Total betting deals with the combined score of both teams going over or under a set number predetermined by linemakers. If a total is released at 150, 151 or more points would need to cash over tickets while under bettors would need 149 or less points scored to come out a winner.

These are only a few of the options you’ll have at your disposal to wager on at Virginia sportsbooks once March Madness comes around. Other types of bets include futures, proposition bets (both team props and player props), parlays, teasers, live bets, and whatever else your preferred book cooks up for the greatness that is the NCAA Tournament.

How does March Madness seeding work?

A number of variants go into seeding the NCAA Tournament every passing season. Power conference teams that compiled stellar regular-season records and played against tough opposing schedules receive premium treatment from the Selection Committee. These types of teams are often seeded very high. If they go on to win their respective conference tournament, they’ll likely be installed No. 1 or No. 2 seeds.

Lesser tiered teams that receive the auto-bid for winning their conference tournaments won’t be seeded as highly due to playing against more favorable schedules. These types of teams are normally seeded lower on the totem pole. Then there are the at-large teams that fill out the remaining bracket or others that still need to play their way into the Field of 64 by partaking in the First Four matchups.

Though it sounds confusing, the NCAA Tournament is almost always comprised of the 64 teams that deserve the right to play for the national championship.

March Madness “play in” games explained

Due to the selection committee catching tons of heat for going with one team over the other when seeding teams and granting invites to the NCAA Tournament, the First Four was established in 2011 so as to let all the teams in jeopardy of just missing the cut play their way into the tourney. The games are played the two days leading up to the first full slate of the First Round. Teams from lesser conferences that received automatic bids due to winning their conference’s tournament square off as do higher-ranked at-large teams in hopes of creating the most pure Field of 64 as possible.

While not many First Four entrants have gone on to make noise in the tournament, there have been a few exceptions. The 2011 VCU Rams reached the Final Four where it would eventually fall to Butler. Other First Four teams to make deep runs included the 2012 South Florida Bulls (Second Round), 2013 LaSalle Explorers (Sweet 16), 2014 Tennessee Volunteers (Sweet 16), 2015 Dayton Flyers (Second Round), 2016 Wichita State Shockers (Second Round), 2017 USC Trojans (Second round) and 2018 Syracuse Orange (Sweet 16). Only once has a First Four winning team not won a game the following round. That occurred in 2019 when the quadrant of North Dakota State, Belmont, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Arizona State fell in the First Round.

How do teams qualify for March Madness?

Teams punch a ticket to the dance one of two ways: by way of an automatic bid or an at-large bid. Auto bids are accrued by winning a respective conference tournament once the regular season comes to a close. Win and you’re in, pretty simple. At-large bids go to teams that put together a solid resume over the course of the regular season but failed to bring home anything tangible because of it. These are teams that ranked out highly within their own conference’s regular-season standings and also failed to cut the nets down in their respective conference tournaments.

NCAA basketball tournament structure

The structure of the NCAA Tournament is pretty basic. Filling all the seeds out is another story and a task only the Selection Committee has a hand in.

A total of 64 teams ultimately qualify for the “Big Dance.” But before the field is set, eight teams square off against one another in hopes of earning a bid to the dance. Those teams partake in what’s been coined the “First Four” which pits the four lowest-ranked at-large teams up against the four lowest-ranked automatic-bid teams. Once the winning teams advance, the First Round of the tournament goes off with each of the East, Midwest, South, and West regions playing eight games the first two days of the tournament.

Once the field has been whittled down to 32 and eight teams remain in each region, Second Round action tips off over the next two days. With 75 percent of the tourney entrants sent home after the first four days of the tournament, the teams still alive will then go on to compete against one another in the Sweet 16. Winners of those matchups will then advance to the Elite Eight with the right to be one of the last four teams standing there for the taking. Advancement to the last weekend of the tourney means a team qualified for the Final Four.

This is normally when the perennial powerhouses and top seeds of the tournament square off. Winners of the two matchups will then lock horns in the national championship game with the winner going on to cut down the nets and be anointed the tournament champion.

Best college basketball teams

  • Villanova – Jay Wright’s Wildcats are the hottest commodity in recent March Madness betting having taken home the title twice in the last four tournaments with more possibly on the horizon.
  • North Carolina – Matching their hated rivals three championships since the turn of the century, the kids from Chapel Hill must always be taken seriously as a viable threat to cut down the nets.
  • Duke – Did you really think the Dookies wouldn’t have a place on this list? Not with Coach K continuing to overlook the program! The Blue Devils have won three titles since 2000!
  • Kentucky – No national championships have been logged since the 2011-12 season, but the Wildcats are a perennial powerhouse that must always be respected when filling out brackets.
  • UConn – Though the Huskies haven’t been a force recently, the program has secured a pair of national championships over the last decade and once again looks to be on the up and up.

Last 5 Winners

  • 2019: Virginia Cavaliers (#1)
  • 2018: Villanova Wildcats (#1)
  • 2017: North Carolina Tar Heels (#1)
  • 2016: Villanova Wildcats (#2)
  • 2015: Duke Blue Devils (#1)

Top 3 March Madness Cinderella teams

A total of 164 teams have made Final Four appearances since the NCAA started seeding teams back in 1979. Of those teams, 66 were installed as No. 1 seeds. Checking in right behind the top dogs are the No. 2 seeds that stood as one of the last four teams standing 34 times. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds find themselves off the pace with 19 and 14 appearances respectively. With that, it can be deduced it’s been few and far between that lower seeds have qualified for the Final Four let alone won the tournament outright. You can count the number of times for most of them on just one hand.

Be that as it may, there have been some teams that far exceeded the Selection Committee’s expectations and cut the nets down. These “Cinderella” teams mentioned below defied the March Madness betting odds, much to the pleasure of college basketball bettors that took shots on their futures odds and were rewarded handsomely for doing so.

2014 UConn Huskies

The Finals of the 2014 tournament saw the No. 7 seed Huskies square off against the No. 8 seed Kentucky Wildcats. It was the first time in NCAA Tournament history that a 1, 2 or 3 seed didn’t partake in the championship game. The Huskies went on to post a 24-7 record in the regular season and made it all the way to the title game of the AAC Tournament where they would lose 71-61 to the Louisville Cardinals. That didn’t stop Kevin Ollie’s kids from catching fire when it mattered most, taking down St. Joseph’s, Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State to reach the Final Four.

From there, Shabazz Napier and company would knock out No. 1 seed Florida before logging a wire-to-wire win against the blueblood in the finals. Connecticut entered the tourney with 66-1 odds to win it all, and 16-1 odds to win the East Region. Those that jumped on board early came out with an enormous payday that they won’t soon forget.

1983 NC State Wolfpack

The term “Cinderella” became synonymous with March Madness back in 1984 when Jim Valvano’s kids upset a Houston Cougars team that was led by NBA greats Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Installed 250-1 dogs to win the tournament as the No. 6 seed in the West Region, Jimmy V’s squad beat Pepperdine in overtime to set the stage for one of the greatest runs to the title in March Madness betting history. Next to go down would be the No. 3 seed UNLV Runnin’ Rebels followed by the No. 10 seed Utah Utes whom the Wolfpack waxed 75-56 in the Sweet Sixteen. The team would then punch its ticket to the Final Four by taking down Ralph Sampson and the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers by a single point, 63-62.

After getting by Georgia to reach the finals, history was made in the closing seconds when Lorenzo Charles threw down a buzzer-beating dunk that was snatched out of the air on a desperation heave. Valvano bursting onto the court in joyous ecstasy is a visual engrained in college basketball folklore for eternity. NCST became the first 10-loss team in history to cut the nets down.

1988 Kansas Jayhawks

Installed a No. 6 seed with 20-1 odds to win the whole enchilada before the Big Dance even tipped off, the Larry Brown-led Kansas Jayhawks went on a run for the ages to earn the program its first tournament championship since 1952. The first two casualties proved to be Xavier and Murray State. Up next was a Vanderbilt team that shocked the Midwest Regions No. 2 seeded Pittsburgh Panthers. The Commodores proved to be no match after Kansas prevailed 77-64. In order to reach the Final Four, the Jayhawks needed to get by in-state rival Kansas State who cleared the path for the Jayhawks by upsetting the No. 1 seed Purdue Boilermakers. KU would log the 71-58 win after splitting with the Wildcats in the regular season. It then got a revenge bout in the Final Four against a Duke Blue Devils team that went into the Phog Allen Fieldhouse and handed them a 74-70 overtime loss in the regular season. Kansas would get its revenge ousting the Dookies 66-59.

All that stood in their way was an Oklahoma team that swept the regular-season rivalry. The Sooners would close as 8-point favorites. After allowing Mookie Blaylock and company to go for 50 points in the first half, Danny Manning and his teammates clamped down in the second half holding Boomer Sooner to just 29 points to secure the incredible 83-79 outright win and cover. In doing so, “Danny and the Miracles” became the first team in the history of the NCAA Tournament to have 10+ losses and cut down the nets.