March Madness betting is a HUGE event. Not Super Bowl huge, but big.
Let me put this into perspective for you. In 2016, the American Gaming Association estimated that Americans would wager $9.2 billion on March Madness. Which was an increase from what was spent in 2015.
The absolute CRAZY thing? Only (an estimated) $262 million of that was wagered legally at Nevada sportsbooks.
And the rest? Where was that spent?
It was spent in office pools, with illegal bookies and at (illegal) offshore betting sites.
Anyway, the point is, March Madness is a big deal. There’s a lot of money being spent on it.
Chances are it’s why you’re here. You want to know which sportsbooks are the best for March Madness betting this year, as well as any tips you can use to make more money doing it.
We got you covered on both fronts.
Immediately below you’ll find our top sportsbooks for March Madness betting. Just click the ‘join now’ link to get started.
Further down the page you’ll find some information about how we choose the sportsbooks in our list, as well as a few March Madness betting tips.
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Let’s quickly cover how this tournament works. Just in case you’ve never watched it before, much less bet on it.
The tournament is made up of the best men’s Division I college basketball teams from the US. It’s a post-season tournament – the regular season is already over, and each conference has already crowned their champions for the season.
The winners from 32 of these conferences are automatically entered into the tournament. Then another 36 are voted in by a committee during “Selection Sunday”.
Overall there are 68 teams that will compete.
The first stage is known as the “First Four.” These are 4 games between the lowest four automatic bids (from the regular season conference champs) and the four lowest voted teams.
The winners of these games, along with the remaining 60 teams, make up the March Madness bracket. In this bracket the 64 teams are divided into four regions and are seeded from #1 to #16.
Then they play. The top-rated teams play the lowest-rated teams in a single game. The winner advances, while the loser is eliminated. This continues until one team is left standing.
The second round played is called the “Round of 32.” Then there are the semi-finals which are called “Sweet Sixteen,” which is followed by the “Elite Eight” and last, the “Final Four.”
When only 2 teams remain, they compete in a single game on TV to crown the national champion.
That’s all there is to it.
Now let’s talk a little about how we choose the sportsbooks in our list above.
Here are the things we look for.
This is the first and most important thing we look for. We don’t care about who everyone thinks is the “cool kid.” What we look for are sportsbooks who have a reputation for being above board – such as following laws – and for offering fair bets, and for paying their customers if and when they win.
Because if they don’t do any of these things, nothing else matters. Seriously.
There are several things we look at here:
These are very important because they’ll separate the good from the bad sportsbooks, but also give you a good idea which of the good sportsbooks are best suited for YOU.
This is a huge factor since mobile has overtaken desktop. Most sportsbooks are mobile compatible without you needing to download an app. But double check before March Madness starts. Otherwise you might make a deposit to the wrong site – and may not be able to get it moved to another sportsbook in time.
All you need to do is visit the site you’re thinking about joining from your mobile device. It should be obvious whether it’s mobile-compatible or not.
If you have ANY questions about ANY sportsbook we recommend, chances are you can find the answers in our sportsbook reviews.
We talk more about what March Madness betting options you can expect to find below. But as far as choosing a sportsbook, we’re looking for a variety of betting options – especially props and in-play betting.
This is bankroll dependent, of course. But we look for sportsbooks who have higher than normal limits. Normal would be $500-$1,500 max (for US sportsbooks).
For example, Bovada has a $500 limit on their NCAA basketball games. However, if that’s not high enough, you can go to Bookmaker and bet as much as $5,000 depending on the type of bet you want to make.
You’ll notice we didn’t say anything about bonuses or promotions. And that’s because they’re far less important than the items above. Especially if you only bet during the BIG events – like the Super Bowl or March Madness – and want to cash out right away. Something that’d be impossible if you took a bonus.
That’s not to say bonuses and promotions don’t enter the equation. They do, but primarily for people who bet regularly. And only once you’ve found a sportsbook that ticks all the boxes above.
The specific bets you can make – such as who will be the first to score, who will win the tip-off or who might be ahead at halftime – bookmakers will post these when we get closer to the tournament kicking off. Some might not even be posted until a few days before, or even the day of a specific tournament.
That said, you’ll find that most sportsbooks offer the following types of bets. If you know anything about sports betting, none of these will be new to you – they’re the same kinds of bets offered for nearly every other sport or event out there.
Here’s what you can expect to find:
These are the (sometimes odd) bets that are often tough to make educated guesses on. These range from who will be the first team or player to score, to the over/under on the number of dunks a player or team will make – and everything (odd) in between.
Make all sorts of bets, ranging from props to over/unders to moneylines, while the game is in-play.
The sportsbook will set a combined score for both teams in a game. You’ll have to decide if the actual score will be higher or lower. Over/unders can also be used for quarter and halftime scores, as well as for other stats – dunks, rebounds, assists, (player) points scored, and more.
Futures are bets posted in advance – often a year or more before the match or event starts. Keep in mind that, the closer you get to the tournament or the game starting, often the worst the odds you get will be.
Those are the most common types of March Madness bets bookmakers offer. These are in addition to your standard moneyline and point spread bets.
Here’s a fun fact for you:
A 64-team single elimination tournament means there are 63 games to be played before a winner is crowned. That means all you have to do is go 63-0.
Your odds of doing that is 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s 1 in 9.2 quintillion! Your odds of winning the Powerball are better (1 in 292 million).
There’s no way we can help you go 63-0. But we can probably help you pick a few more winners than you’d do on your own.
Here are some tips to do just that. In no particular order…
Over the past 15 years the first round has yielded about 60 percent (underdog) winners.
This happens for the following reasons:
The bottom line – consider betting on the underdog.
Boyd’s Bets says they haven’t seen a No. 1 seed lose to a No. 16 seed since they expanded the field to 64 teams in 1985.
In fact, they also say that you should take at least three No. 1 seeds to the Elite 8, and at least two to the Final Four.
The lower ranked teams – the 13s, 14s, 15s and 16s – only average one or two wins per year in the first round. Time.com’s expert says you can take 1 or 2 in the first round, but any more than that isn’t worth it.
Out of 31 tournaments, 19 champs were seeded No. 1. Four of them were seeded No. 2 and four were No. 3. The point – you can choose a No. 1 seed as your champ and feel good about it. Another fact – No. 1 seeds have won 15 of the last 24 championships.
Between them there are a total of 28 Final Four appearances.
The reason BettingExpert.com gives is because when you – and, even worse, the teams – rely on their (singular) strong attributes, such as shooting 3-pointers, they set themselves up for failure. What happens if the 3s aren’t going in? They lose the tournament, that’s what.
What you want instead are teams who are strong all around – who are well-rounded. They’re more capable of coming back from and overcoming various challenges a team may face in the tournament.
And ‘Cinderella’ teams don’t happen nearly as often as the news might suggest.
The bottom line – I know some of these tips might contradict each other. But it sounds like you can do pretty well betting on well-rounded, top-seeded teams with a few promising underdogs sprinkled in.
There you have it. Everything you need to go from total March Madness newbie to betting expert.
Okay, okay – expert might be pushing it. But maybe we’ll help you get somewhere in between?
And considering you have better odds of winning the Powerball than hitting a perfect bracket, I’m okay with that. I can settle with helping you find a solid sportsbook with a variety of March Madness betting options. And then helping you win a few of your bets with our tips above.
I hope you are too. Enjoy the (March) Madness!