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The brackets are out for the NCAA Tournament in March 2021 after the 2020 edition of March Madness was canceled by COVID-19. Virginia captured the 2019 title, capping a remarkable redemption from 2018, when it was the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed. We’re already looking forward to the next Big Dance and from a gambling perspective there is sure to be plenty of markets available across the top basketball betting sites. Along with NBA betting, this is a key date for any punter who likes to bet on basketball.
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Top 12 Teams Reach Sweet 16 for the First Time Since 2009
AGA Estimates $8.5 Billion to be Wagered on NCAA Tournament
The NCAA is Reviewing Rule Change with Betting Implications
Betting the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament
March Madness betting has always drawn tons of action but this year, and with the expansion of sports betting outside Las Vegas, the market is expected to attract more bets than ever.
Millions of brackets are created and billions of dollars are wagered every March during the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The 68-team, single-elimination tournament features an unbelievable amount of betting opportunities almost every day of the weeks-long tournament.
In addition to the brackets printed out each year – and blown up by the first Friday of the tournament – there are hundreds of bets to be made. It begins with point spreads, which can reach as big as the high 30s in the first round when a top seed faces a No. 16 seed. Standard over-under point total bets are also used.
It’s important to consider the pace at which teams play, as there’s an entire spectrum of fast- and slow-paced teams that make the NCAA Tournament each season.
There are also wider-scale bets. Future odds to win the NCAA Tournament can change dramatically after the bracket is revealed on Selection Sunday if a team received what’s perceived to be an “easy” region and path to the Final Four.
Other prop bets include which player will win Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, which conference will the champion come from, and what the highest point total of any team of player will be in a single game. Given its popularity, there’s an option to bet on just about anything during March Madness.
5 Things to Consider When Betting March Madness
If you’ve ever filled out a bracket, you know that March Madness is wildly unpredictable. There isn’t rhyme, reason or real trend of which to speak, and now it’s even wrong to say that a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed! That was always the sure thing. Until 2018.
What we can say is that researching the small schools pays off. The Dukes, Kentuckys and North Carolinas will always be good, but there’s serious talent in smaller conferences. And remember: Those small school teams won their conference tournaments to get to the Dance. They’ve got real momentum and, more times than not, a senior-laden group.
There’s always upsets on the first two days of March Madness. You can usually spot them with a little extra research into how good a team actually is.
If you’re looking for Final Four picks, the top seeds are still the top seeds for a reason. By definition, the higher the seed, the easier the opponents and potential path to a Final Four. Remember, there is no reseeding. Teams know their path as soon as the bracket is revealed.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the vaunted 5 vs. 12 match-up. No. 12 seeds are typically strong mid-major programs while No. 5 seeds tend to be second-tied major conference teams. Also, No. 5 seeds lose "geographic protection" afforded top-four seeds, meaning they are often sent far from home, making them more vulnerable. For those reasons, No. 12 seeds seem to be the Cinderella most likely of busting a bracket. If you’re in need of an underdog, look at the 12s.
Betting March Madness Prop Bets
Since the NCAA Tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985 until 2018, 21 of the 34 national champions have been a No. 1 seed, including 9 of 12 from 2007 to 2018. True, it can be difficult to identify which of the four top seeds might cut down the nets, but odds have shown that one of them will.
The next closest seeds in that 34-year span are, unsurprisingly, No. 2 seeds (five times) and No. 3 seeds (four times). So 30 of the last 34 national champions (88.2%) have come from the top three seeds. It’s nice to have Cinderellas advance to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight, but if you’re identifying a champion, make sure they come from the top three seeds.
In the same light, the pick for Most Outstanding Player, from 1998 to 2018, 14 of the 21 winners came from No. 1 seeds. March Madness is where upsets happen all the time. But if we’re talking cutting down the nets in the end, the best of the best rise to the top.
How Does the NCAA Basketball Tournament Work?
There are 68 available spots in the NCAA Tournament: 32 teams get in by way of winning their respective conference tournaments while the remaining 36 “at-large” teams are chosen by the NCAA selection committee, a 10-person group made up of athletic directors and conference commissioners.
The committee takes into consideration a number of different criteria to determine the best 36 teams that did not win their conference tournament. The committee then seeds the teams 1-68, which makes up the four separate 1-16 regions (plus the four play-in games).
The bracket is announced in early March on Selection Sunday after all conference tournaments have been completed.
The regional semifinals and finals, more commonly referred to as the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, are then held at four new sites. The winners of each region participate in the Final Four at a new location, with the championship game being held two days later.
In all, six wins are needed to cut down the nets (seven if a team takes part in the play-in game) in early April. There is no reseeding or consolation brackets.