March Madness Betting Tips

Money and Basketball

When it comes to naming conventions in sports, no event is more appropriately named than March Madness. Sixty-eight teams from conferences all over the country meet up at the end of the year to determine who can claim basketball supremacy in the NCAA. With such a wide field of participants and so much at stake, it’s far-and-away one of the favorite sporting events that take place each year.

In fact, besides the Super Bowl, there’s no sporting event in the nation that is bet on more than the NCAA Tournament. That’s a whole lot of casual money coming into the sportsbooks and moving the line in your favor if you know what to look for. The fact that you’ve searched out this article looking for March Madness betting tips means you probably want to be one of the few that actually wins money this time of year rather than blindly filling out a bracket based on team names or mascots.

If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place. This page is designed to give you a sturdy foundation on which to make your picks and identify value in the brackets. There’s never a sure thing when it comes to March Madness betting strategy, but if you follow the majority of these tips, you’ll be in a better position to win than most gamblers out there!


You wouldn’t think that motivation would come into play in a 68-school single-elimination tournament for all the marbles, but it is still a factor. Once the real competition begins and the low-seeded teams are mostly all eliminated, it no longer comes into play, but before that, there are a couple of reasons to consider this variable. There are two opportunities to use “motivation” as a reason to make a pick, particularly on the underdog.

Conference Tourneys

Now, it’s true that the conference tournaments aren’t technically a part of the March Madness tournament. But they occur during bracket season and play a significant role in how the schools will be seeded, so we are including them here as well. Plus, are you really going to pass up the opportunity to hit big on a couple of underdogs just because the games are a week or two before the actual tournament?

The reason the conference tournaments are ripe for exploiting for sports gamblers is that not every program has the same thing at stake. Many of the big-name programs with solid records already know they’re set for an at-large bid if they don’t win their conference championship. Sure, they’ll still try to win, but they may not play their star players as many minutes, and the games themselves may just not mean as much to the players that are looking forward to the big tournament.

Similarly, you’ll have decent programs that maybe underachieved during the regular season and need the conference title to secure their spot in the bracket. These teams could have been hampered by injuries or just a slow start due to chemistry issues. Whatever the reason, if you can locate them, they’re worth taking an underdog flier on because a college student with everything to play for will dig deeper than one that’s thinking about March Madness.

Early Rounds

Once the tournament actually begins, you get one or two rounds to still factor motivation into your handicapping. The first two rounds are when the shocking upsets happen, which is where the real money can be made. When these underdog wins happen, it’s rarely because they are the more talented team. It’s because the favored program looked past their opponent and underestimated a feisty small-conference school.

If a team didn’t perform well in their conference tournament, that’s a great place to start. Sure, it may just be that they didn’t have much to play for, but that mindset can sometimes be difficult to turn off once a team has lost their edge. You’ll also want to look at their last ten regular season games, which we cover in the next tip.

Research Last Ten Games – Higher Seeds

There are fascinating patterns that appear in the historical data that we can use when betting on March Madness. For example, in the last fifteen years, fourteen of the eventual champions came from the first, second, or third seed. But at the same time, we know that almost every year at least one of the two-seeds is eliminated in the second round, much earlier than expected.

To find the most likely culprit for this early departure, look no further than their record over the last ten games of their season. Teams that have won six or fewer games over that stretch get eliminated by the second round roughly 75% of the time. Surely you can find odds on a two-seed whose implied probability is less than 75%, so this is an easy value bet to identify.

Research Early-Season Games – Lower Seeds

Most of the teams that find themselves in lower seeds are conference champions that come from the smaller conferences around the country. These can be difficult to judge due to the competition they play against most of the year. For the most part, their regular season schedule doesn’t offer much value in terms of handicapping.

One thing that is worth examining is their performance in the first part of the season when they played their out-of-conference schedule. Keep in mind that these games still take place at the beginning of the year when teams are still finding their chemistry and rhythm, but there is still valuable information to find. Just look at how they played against bigger schools. If they kept the game competitive, scored a lot of points, or held their opponents to low scoring, those are good signs.

Also, look at the average age of the roster on these small conference schools. We see more upsets coming from small programs loaded with juniors and seniors. They may not be as promising as one-and-done freshmen for NBA futures, but for now, they’ll be stronger, more experienced, and more mature, which can go a long way in March.

Look for Specialists

When you’re comparing two teams, there are specific statistics you should prioritize over others. You also want teams that excel on one side of the ball more so than the other. It’s better to be a team that’s in the top twenty of either offense or defense, even at the expense of the other, than a well-rounded squad that’s mediocre at both.

A site like is an excellent place to start. There, you can find offensive and defensive efficiency rankings for all of the teams in the tournament. The rankings there are even more meaningful because they take into account the competition these stats were earned against.

From there, look at teams that excel at rebounding. If you find a team that can rebound and has above-average defensive or offensive efficiency, you’ve most likely identified a program that’s about to have a great tournament run. Start betting these teams early in the Madness.

Historical Upset Seeds

When you’re betting on March Madness matchups, the seeds that teams receive need to be included in your analysis. That’s because historically the majority of the upsets have come from the same seeds. More specifically, teams playing out of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth seeds are the most likely to topple their favored opponents, so that’s where you want to look early in the tournament.

Schools ranked in the range highlighted above are responsible for 75% of the March Madness upsets in the past. Of those three spots, the twelfth seed has been the most respectable, accounting for more than 25% of the total upsets. You’ll still have to choose the right twelve seed from the four regions, but just knowing where to look certainly narrows down the work you’ll have to do.

Chances to Fade the Public

People are full of pride for their alma mater. Similarly, they also hate their college rivals with a passion. This results in a casual betting pool of fans betting with their hearts rather than their brains, which means lots of opportunities to fade the public for the rest of us.

The way to do this is to locate polarizing teams and watch which way the public is betting based on the line movement. Teams like Duke that are hated may provide highly valuable lines thanks to people betting against them merely in hopes that they’ll lose. No matter how much action they receive against them, it doesn’t change that they’re a top team that typically performs well in the tourney.

You’ll also see fans hop on the bandwagon for Cinderella teams as they advance through the bracket. But remember, the championship team still traditionally comes out of the top three seeds. So while the public begins to buy into the hype, you might want to look at betting the other way.

Location, Location, Location

Something you may want to consider as a March Madness betting tip when placing your bets on the games is where they will be played. There’s a full schedule online of where each region will play and what venues will be used as the competition advances on. Especially in the early rounds, it’s smart to see how close in proximity teams are from their home court.

Some teams get extremely lucky with the draw and get to play in nearby cities or occasionally even on their home floor. This makes it easier for their fans to travel, requires less flying or changing time zones for the athletes, and keeps them around their support system. While these are the best players in college basketball, they are still college students, and maintaining a familiar routine is beneficial for performance.

Prioritize Road Records

Speaking of location, depending on where a team will be playing their games, you may want to prioritize parts of their overall record differently. Teams that will be traveling across the country to compete in their region will need to have success performing on the road. So why look at the overall record as an indication of future performance?

Instead, extrapolate their road record and make sure they still perform up to expectations. If all of their losses came on the road, you’d most likely have less confidence in them during the tournament. And should they sit in one of those upset seeds, you may want to focus on them for those early underdog upsets.

Either way, you want to take into account where a team is playing in comparison to their home and away records. Then you just match up your bets accordingly. Teams that play well at home and get a lucky draw in close proximity are winners, as are squads with great road records representing far away. The real money will be in betting against teams with great overall records but lousy road records playing across the country. Most people will just look at seeding, so that’s when you strike!

Round Robin Parlays

The way March Madness is organized makes it perfect for parlay bets. You can break your bets into days or rounds and match up your plays to maximize your odds of taking home money. One great way to do this is called “Round Robin” betting.

Let’s say you’ve picked out four games on which you feel comfortable betting. What you want to do is make several parlay cards, each with three picks on them. Pair your picks in as many three-team combinations as possible. That way, if one of your teams loses, you’ll still win the majority of your tickets.

If you’re terribly inaccurate and miss on multiple picks, you can lose quite a bit of money. But if you do your research, you should be able to minimize damage to your bankroll.

Parlay Heavy Favorites with Underdogs

Another March Madness betting tip for parlays is to pair your heavy favorites with different underdogs. It’s already difficult betting on favorites without having to risk too much for a small payout, so parlays are the way to go with them. Thus, the first step is to identify two or three favorites that you’d like to wager on winning.

Then, you find an underdog that you feel confident is ripe for an upset. You make two or three parlay cards. Each time, you either include two favorites and one underdog (if using three favorites), or the same favorite paired with two different underdogs. If the underdog is at least +200 or so on the moneyline odds, you can hit only one of your parlay cards and still win money overall.

Bet Teams You Follow

There are sixty-eight teams included in the March Madness bracket; you can’t be expected to have a broad wealth of knowledge about them all. Not unless you gamble on sports professionally or have a whole team of statisticians at your disposal. So, for the ordinary bettors, your best strategy is to focus on programs with which you’re most familiar.

This can be the local team whose games you regularly attend, which is a great situation because you’ll understand their entire roster and strengths and weaknesses. It can also include groups you’re just a big fan of and tune in for most often. You’ll also probably be more knowledgeable about the competition within your favorite team’s conference, making them useful betting fodder as well.

The general idea is not to get caught up in hype or media attention. Just bet the schools that you have some first-hand knowledge of. The majority of the public is going to be betting on everything this time of year, so cashing in on your expertise is an excellent March Madness betting tip to remember.

Record Your Bets

This tip applies to any and all sports betting that you participate in, including the NCAA tournament. You should make a habit of recording all of the bets you place in some kind of spreadsheet. Make a note of both sides of the wager, the odds that you bought your pick at, the rationale you used when making your pick, what experts you used to make the decision, and whether it won or lost.

These notes may not lead to more winnings this year, but they will down the line. Keeping good records allows you to find patterns in your gambling and either continue with them or weed out faulty thought processes that lead to losses. They’ll also tell you which expert’s opinions to trust in the future and who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. By next March, you’ll be armed with a wealth of information to utilize when filling out that 2020 bracket!

Bankroll Management

The cardinal rule of sports gambling is to use strict discipline with regards to bankroll management. The first thing to do is decide what your bankroll is going to be. So, as part of your March Madness betting strategy, you may determine that you have $2,000 that you can bet without it disrupting your life should you lose it all. Once you have that number, you decide how many games you’re looking to bet.

Staking Plans

So let’s say you’ve determined that you want to bet on twenty of the games overall throughout the tournament. This is easy math; it means you have $100 to stake on each contest. As long as you stick to your $100-per-game staking plan, you won’t run into any financial trouble, and you’ll come out on top as long as you hit the majority of your picks.

Don’t Chase Losses

One last tidbit of advice related to both bankroll management and staking plans is to make sure you never chase your losses. Should you hit a streak of bad luck, it’s imperative to just stick to the process and not increase your bets. Commonly, people will feel “due” after a streak of bad luck, operating under the assumption that the last few losses mean that they’ll start winning again any game now.

This is the gambler’s fallacy because it ignores the fact that each bet is independent of all the others. So rather than raising your stakes in the hope of reversing your fortune and winning your bankroll back quicker, just stay disciplined and stick to your plans. You’ll avoid a lot of heartaches and financial stress by doing so.

In Conclusion

There’s no better time of the year for sports gambling than March Madness. The entire country is caught up in bracketology and seeding and Cinderella stories. With all of the increased viewership, you also see an increase in casual sports betting, which is ideal for those gamblers that know what they’re doing.

By knowing what to look for and which stats to consider, you’re already well ahead of most bettors. Once you have that, it’s just a matter of cramming some numbers and focusing on the squads about whom you’re the most knowledgeable. Mix in some intelligently-structured parlay cards and the right underdog picks, and you can be looking at a hugely profitable March!

Utilizing the March Madness betting tips provided in this article will give you a great head start. Just remember to calculate your bankroll before the action even begins and to stick to your plan once things heat up. Sports gambling is an incredibly fun pastime, but it can also come with some risks if you aren’t careful. But as long as you stay disciplined and never deviate from your staking plan, you’ll be fine.

Jim Beviglia
Get in touch with Jim
About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.