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March Madness Betting Strategies

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.

Here is a list of the top 6 favorite teams to win the 2021 Men’s College National Championship. According to DraftKings

  1. Gonzaga (+220)
  2. Baylor (+400)
  3. Michigan (+500)
  4. Illinois (+1000)
  5. Houston (+1800)
  6. 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, 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
Virginia 68.4% 2019
Villanova 68.0% 2018
UNC 55.6% 2017
Villanova 55.3% 2016
Duke 63.2% 2015
UConn 60.5% 2014
Louisville 60.0% 2013
Kentucky 42.1% 2012
UConn 65.7% 2011
Duke 62.5% 2010

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%

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