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March Madness and how to bet on it
Mar 9, 2022, 4:37:00 AM

March Madness and how to bet on it

The NCAA is known as one of the best leagues in the world. This is the stepping stone for a lot of hopeful young stars to get a chance to break out in their careers. If you're new to March Madness, learn more about what this tournament has in store for you.

To get started, let’s answer the question: ‘What’s March Madness? It is a tournament that’s played each spring in the United States. It’s one of the biggest tourneys in the world, having a total of 68 teams from the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Teams battle it out in various rounds all the way to the national championship, where they reign supreme for the season.

In addition, March Madness basketball is said to be one of the most intense tourneys out there. This is why fans enjoy watching these games. The battle between rising stars and NBA hopefuls is an opportunity for their biggest college career glory and draft resume.

The NCAA tourney was created back in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. It was Ohio State coach Harold Olsen's idea and desire to give college players a bigger spotlight and help them improve in their games. Today, it continues to deliver the best matches and showcases the potential of young basketball players for a chance to play in the NBA and other leagues.

How does March Madness work?

March Madness is split into four regions, and each of those has a total of at least 16 teams. Regions that’ll not have the First Four games have an exact number of 16 teams, a committee is charged with making each of these four regions as close as possible when it comes to the quality of teams playing.

All arenas are normally neutral. Teams are all banned from playing games in front of their home crowd to eliminate the home court advantage all the way to the Final Four. There’s still a chance that a team may get lucky and play in or near its home state or city. 

As per NCAA rules, any court on which a team hosts more than three regular season games is considered as a home court. This also means that it doesn’t include conference tournament games. On top of that, the only exception ever made for this as of the time of writing is the University of Dayton, which was allowed to play a game in the First Four in their home arena back in 2015.

March Madness is popular for a lot of punters. Even non-sports fans are also known to wager on these games. There are at least tens of millions of Americans alone who join in a bracket pool contest every year. Media outlets such as ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports also host tourneys online where contestants can enter for free.

The tournament plays out on a bracket system on a single elimination basis. Teams only have to beat their opponents once in order to move on to the next round of the tourney. This means a much faster competition than the likes of the NBA Playoffs and the EuroLeague Playoffs which takes months to wrap up. That is why most fans favour betting on NCAA games since they do not have to wait longer to see the end of it.

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How do March Madness brackets work?

Each March Madness bracket is unique in its own way. The selection committee ranks the whole field of a total of 68 teams from 1 to 68. Teams will be then divided amongst the regions, with each of the top four teams being sent to one of the four regions while receiving the first seed over the rest of the teams.

The next four ranked teams are named as the second seed and will be sent to each region. This process goes on until each region seeds from no. 1 to 16—a point where the brackets can be finally made according to the ranks.

The selection committee also places teams in a way that those who played in the same conference in the regular season will not face each other until the regional finals, although there are certain times where this goal is not met.

On top of that, the committee is also instructed to avoid any possible rematches of the current or last season’s tourney games during the first and second rounds of the tourney. This helps preserve the thrill that the fans can enjoy while also keeping the hype alive as the tourney goes into the deeper stages.

March Madness brackets are just the same as the NBA Playoffs with the exception of having only one game to win in each round. The best of one series was made to ensure that the schedule does not exceed the month of March.

Additionally, teams work hard in the regular season to ensure that their seeding will give them an edge in the tourney. This means that not all great teams aim to finish at the top of the season rankings since there is no home court advantage until the final. Some teams opt to go for a middle ground placing to ensure they fight a fair level team.

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What are the different rounds in March Madness?

March Madness presents one of the longest tournament rounds and yet also wraps up the fastest among many contests in the sports world. This makes the NCAA tourney unique as it stands out thanks to its intense games and short schedule.

    •   The First Four games are played between the four lowest-ranked teams and the four lowest-ranked automatic-bid teams. These are said to be very fierce and can be shocking with teams pulling off early upsets. Overtime games can be seen as early as this round as well.

    •   The Round of 64 is played after the First Four. This is the same as the NBA’s first round where the top ranked teams play the lowest seeded team in all regions. For example, the no. 1 seed plays against the no. 16 seed, the no. 2 seed plays against the no. 15 seed and so on.

The effect of this seeding system only ensures that the better a team is ranked, the lower their opponents will be. A total of 16 first-round games are played on the Thursday after the First Four Round, while the final 16 games of the first round are played on the next day.

    •   The Round of 32 is played just right after the first round. It is usually played immediately on Saturday and Sunday in the same week. The second round sees the winners of the Thursday games playing in eight games on Saturday. The Friday winners play the remaining eight games of the second round on Sunday.

At this stage, fatigue becomes a major factor in most March Madness betting odds. Teams have tired players and those that have taken an injury hit quickly affect the roster changes. This can affect team games and put them at an edge or disadvantage in the long run.

    •   After the Round of 32 is the Sweet Sixteen—a total of four regional semi-final games played on Thursday and Friday. A four-day rest is given at the end of the Round of 32 for winning teams, which means they will be likely back to top shape when the Sweet Sixteen begins. 

These games are the climactic road to the regional finals where eight teams, the Elite Eight, will remain. The Sweet Sixteen is one of the most hyped games and is seen as one of the biggest highlights of March Madness betting.

    •   The Elite Eight features two regional final games that will pit the winners from the Thursday and Friday games. Two games are played on Saturday, and another set of two games take place on Sunday. Winning teams are hailed as regional champions of March Madness and also advance to the Final Four.

    •   The Final Four serves the same purpose as the Conference Finals in the NBA. This is where the best March Madness bets come in since punters are keen to see the best of each team give out their best in hopes of making it to the final.

There are frequent upsets in this round since not all teams that make it to the Final Four are seen as top contenders in the first place. There are some teams that have just found a bigger groove in the March Madness alone and thrived all the way to the Final Four.

    •   The National Championship is the final stage of March Madness. This is where the tourney comes into an epic conclusion. Two teams that have fought hard now have a chance to seal the deal and bring the biggest glory of winning March Madness.

March Madness betting lines are usually lopsided on this one depending on the teams playing. Odds are close if the two teams are equally matched in terms of roster, overall wins in the tourney itself, and so on. Season records also come into play for odds but it does not outweigh the overall difference between the favourite and the underdog.

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Markets to bet on in March Madness

Betting on March Madness games is usually a chance for big winnings for punters. The NCAA tourney demands a lot of fan speculation and betting from the start of the contest ensures a lot of winning chances to begin with.

This only means that making use of the betting markets in March Madness should be the best way to get the best wins. On top of that, it is expected that you should also play it smart when you try to place wagers on certain games which may have a bigger payout in the long run. Here are three markets that you should bet on in March Madness:

    •   Moneyline betting is where you wager on a team of your choice to win the whole March Madness or a player to win the MVP award at the end of the tourney. This is the most common bet in basketball and is considered to be a popular wager not just in the NCAA games, but also in other known sports.

Betting on a team to win can be risky but it takes a lot of courage to believe in them that they can pull off a miracle all the way to the national championship. When betting on a team, it is always best to consider their strengths and weaknesses en route to the March Madness games.

    •   Spread betting means placing wagers on a team that you think will win and how big the winning margin will be. This allows you to bet on certain teams that are not evenly matched with a big chance of winning. This means that they will handicap the favourite and make it possible to pick either side without losing that much value on their wagers.

March Madness spreads are better in the early stages of the tourney since there are still many teams to choose from. The deeper March Madness is, the harder it is to gauge which teams will be weaker than the other, which means an unpredictable scoring tally.

    •   Handicap betting in March Madness can be a great option for you since this allows punters to place a specific wager on a team or player. Punters can win if the handicap conditions are met and not if the team or player wins the game.

For example, the underdog must win the game by two or more points more than a set number, which is the handicap given to level the odds. A favourite, on the other hand, must win the game by less than two or more points than the set number.

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Betting strategies in March Madness

There are a lot of tips and tricks in winning bets in March Madness. As an intense tourney, you can expect a lot of experts helping out fellow punters to get a big win.

Each March Madness betting strategy you read online offers you an edge to win in your wagers. The more you know, the easier it is to get a win and score more prize money at the end of the day. Here are some of the best betting strategies in March Madness:

    •   Bet on consistent teams. It is always best to consider the odds of winning for a team in each game they play. Teams that have won a stretch of games have a better chance of winning than the other. Those who are in a slump cannot be relied upon to win and thus have lower chances of winning as well.

Teams that have won in the regular season may or may not bring the same energy they had into the NCAA tourney. It is best to watch games and see if they still have the same killer instinct that got them into March Madness.

    •   Bet on a healthy roster. Winning is all about scoring the ball, and health will always play a huge role in how a team can play well in their games. Those that have injured key players or stars may be forced to make some quick changes that can affect their overall play.

Teams will always need to adjust their roster and thus will not play the same way as they did with their injured star. A complete squad is always the best option since they have a better chance of winning than a team that is plagued by injuries.

    •   Check the bracket placing. March Madness betting bracket placing can be tricky. Punters have to consider which team is going to face another. Schedule always affects the bets in a huge manner, and there is no way that a person can predict the right number of wins that a team can get in the playoffs as a whole.

This means that you should gauge which team is facing a weaker or stronger foe. The seeding process is a must know for a lot of punters if they wish to make the most of their wagers and score big wins in the end.

March Madness happens only once a year, which means it is a must for punters to try betting and get the best wins. To earn more, they need to have proper knowledge about the competition and each of the team’s momentum. The more they know about the NCAA as a whole, the bigger chance they have of winning bets.

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Words: Paul Daniel Flores

Image: Alamy


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