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Making the Most of the NCAA Tournament

Like with the Super Bowl, when the NCAA Tournament tips off, the entire country knows it. The Tournament becomes the ever-present force in the sports world, and betting on March Madness becomes the nation’s main obsession.

You like obsessions, as well as basketball and making money. And you, like millions of others in America and around the world, want to get a leg up on betting on the biggest sports month of the year.

Can you even call yourself a basketball fan if you haven’t filled out at least one NCAA Tournament bracket?

How to Place March Madness Bets

You probably were in an NCAA Tournament bracket years before sports betting was legal in your state. Don’t worry. We’re not going to tell anyone, because in truth, the authorities don’t care about your office pool.

But now that sports betting is legal, and legally you can place almost any March Madness bet that you can conceive, it is the better way to go. The law likes you, and your betting experience is far more complete.

Legal betting on the NCAA Tournament covers everything. You can still bet your standard bracket, which was famously a yearly tradition of President Barack Obama. Although it’s unclear if he ever made money on his picks.

With 67 total tournament games, you can bet the moneyline winner in each of those games, place point spread bets on each game, or total points on each game.

Plus you get futures bets, Final Four bets, regional champion bets, and all kinds of special bracket bets that escalate your winnings based on the seeds that you wagered.

March Madness Betting Prep

The NCAA Selection Committee will tell you who it thinks will win each game, based on the seedings it assigns. But it only takes a few hours of watching the Tournament to know that upsets happen all the time, and the seedings are only used to create the matchups. They are not meant to be predictive.

The lower seeds are also where the most value can be found, since everyone has probably watched Gonzaga and Kentucky, but not necessarily St. Marys and Davidson. Study the teams that get into the Tournament by winning the automatic berths. These teams are playing well, but often underrated by the betting public.

Also, study the history of seeds in the NCAA Tournament. You’ll find certain matchups, like the fifth seed vs. the 12th seed, that swings in favor of the underdog more than one would expect from natural odds.

March Madness Betting Tips

You’ve done your research, you know the history of the seeds, and now the NCAA Selection Committee has released the bracket. What’s the first thing you should do?

This is the time to strike. Right after the matchups are made, and the point spreads are released, this is the time that soft point spreads can be found. It’s now, before the talking heads get too involved, and the public gets too deep into their own research, that you can find value lines worth exploiting.

Also, as much as the NCAA pats itself on the back for keeping teams from playing at home, they do put some teams in the proximity of their home in the hopes that it draws in more fans. And sometimes it’s just because of unexpected circumstances that lead to teams playing near their home court. When Butler played in the Final Four in 2010, the location was Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, just six miles from Butler’s home at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

In a lot of sports, there are ongoing and spirited debates about momentum, and if momentum is real. In the NCAA Tournament, it absolutely is real. Teams that get hot during their conference tournament, playing their way into March Madness, usually continue to play great basketball that first weekend of the Tournament, and often beyond.

In 2019 the Auburn Tigers were on the bubble as February ended. In March they got hot, winning four games to end the regular season, four more wins to take the SEC Tournament, and then four more wins to get to the Final Four.

Auburn is an extreme example, but quite often when you play the hot hand, you play a winning hand.

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