An Expert Guide to Betting on March Madness

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March is one of the most exciting months in sports for all sports fans, but it is particularly
special for college basketball enthusiasts. It’s the big dance. The madness. March Madness is the phrase
used to describe the 68 team tournament where Division I college basketball teams battle it out to
crown the National Champion. These teams compete in a single-elimination, bracket style tournament
that ultimately culminates in the final game to decide the season-long champion.

If you’ve never witnessed the sheer mayhem that is March Madness, you’re in for a treat. The
number of upsets, buzzer beaters, and nail-biting performances is enough to make you go, well,
mad. It’s a sports fan’s dream and a sports bettor’s holy land. The key to enjoying and taking
in the full experience of March Madness is to understand as much as you can about the tournament.

We’re going to walk you through everything you could ever want to know about March Madness
betting sites and more so that you can fully enjoy everything this glorious month has to
offer. We’ll also show you how to identify the best March Madness betting sites to ensure you’re
betting at the safest sites available.

If you’re hyped up for this year’s tournament, you are not alone. We look forward to the big
dance every year and can’t wait to get our action. That being said, there are tons of different
websites and online sportsbooks to choose from for your March Madness betting. Frankly, it can
be overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to help.

To help get you started, we’ve combed the depths of the internet and pulled our favorite and most
trusted March Madness betting sites offering action on this year’s tournament. These sites have some
of the widest variety of bets available, and they also offer healthy bonuses to new players. Hands
down, these are the best online betting sites for March Madness. Take a peek and get your action in before the
big dance gets started!

This page is packed with loads of helpful information about March Madness betting sites as well as
plenty of other detail you can use to help elevate your basketball betting game. Because this page
has so much in one place, we’ve included some jump links below. Using these, you can skip ahead to
the sections you’re most interested in. However, to get the most out of this page, we’d urge you to
review everything we’ve included so you don’t miss a single thing.

Why These March Madness Betting Sites?

Luckily for you, we didn’t just pull the names of the websites above out of a
hat. Instead, we spent a significant amount of time reviewing all of the
available operations with the end goal of identifying the best March Madness
betting sites. Below, we’ve added some details so you’ll have more color about
our detailed selection process utilized to help us identify the cream of the

Top of the list is trustworthiness. With real money and personal data on the
line, we never recommend a betting site unless we’re sure our readers will be
safe there. Should you choose any one of our suggested online betting
sites, we’re 100% confident you’ll be in good hands.

Outside of trust, there’s a laundry list of other things we looked for in our
top picks. Some of the areas we investigated were mobile-friendliness, customer
service, reliability, banking methods, and the size of available March Madness
wagers. If we identified any areas of concern, we removed that operation from
our list of consideration so we were only left with top-notch basketball betting

One final thing you should know is that we can’t be bought. Here, basketball
betting sites can only earn a spot on our list by demonstrating they are one of
the best of the best. We’ll never accept money in exchange for a place on our
website so we can continue to be an honest and reliable source of information.

March Madness is one of the highest bet on times of the year in sports. As the games are fast-paced and high energy, sports bettors love to ramp up the rush and fun with some wagers. Sportsbooks offer hundreds of different options of sports bets to fit every need and want. There are three types of bets, though, that are the most popular.

Single Game Bets

This is definitely the simplest of bets there is to make and allows you to get in on the action at any point during the tournament. This is as easy as picking the winner of a single game. It doesn’t matter what else happens in the tournament, this bet isolates a game by itself. These bets can be great because you don’t have to try and weigh in all the other factors of the tournament and you only really have to look at two teams.

Tournament Winner Bets

This is a tougher bet to win, but also a fun one if you’ve got a strong hunch on what team will be the big winner. This bet is placed before the tournament begins and you select the team that you think is going to win it all. To win this bet, the team you select has to become the outright champions.

Tough to win, but the payouts will typically be a lot sweeter to compensate. This is a fun bet to throw a few bucks on as you don’t have to risk much at all for a big payday. The one drawback to this bet is that if the team you select loses early, your bet is no longer active and you miss out on a long run of fun. On the flip side, if your team goes deep in the tournament, the excitement level of this bet can go through the roof.

The Almighty Bracket Bet

We saved this one for last as it’s the most popular bet available for March Madness. When the full bracket is set and released, you are able to bet on the outcome of all of the games down to the winner of the tournament.

You must pick a winner for every game, and your bracket must be completed before the beginning of the tournament. Typically, this bet is not made against the house but is made in an office pool style bet where whoever has the best bracket or the top X amount of brackets are the winners. This can be done through online casinos or is popularly done between groups of friends.

Determining who has the “best” bracket is done by a point system. The specific rules for the points are determined by the different pool you are entering in. They do typically follow the same format. Points are awarded for every correct pick you make. Picks that are correct in later rounds are typically given more weight, and more points are awarded. Some bracket pools elect to award additional points for upsets picked while some just follow the standard format.

The more correct picks you get in the first round, the more opportunities you have to make correct picks in the next round and so on and so forth. Here’s what we mean with an example. Imagine these are the first four lines of one of the regions in the first round.

You will have to pick a winner from each of these games. Let’s say you pick Team 1 to win the top game, and you pick Team 4 to win the second game. You then have to pick the winner of the next game that will be played in the second round. This is all selected BEFORE the first game is ever played. On your bracket, your second round will look like this.

Let’s say you pick Team 4 fun as every game becomes important to you, even if you have never heard of the two teams before. This is the ultimate bet to make for fun in the tournament. People are known for making several different brackets and entering them into pools to make sure they have a bracket that still has a chance to win in the later rounds.

Filling out your bracket can be challenging if you’ve never done it before. Thankfully, the next section of this guide is going to give you the complete low-down on the strategy and tips to fill out the best bracket.

If you’re looking to place some bets or get into a bracket pool, here are some trusted and convenient places you can quickly and safely place wagers from the comfort of your own home. Don’t get left out of the action this year.

As there are so many places to bet, it’s hard to know who you can trust and where you have the potential to win the most money. We’ve done the legwork for you, and these are the few sites that we trust that can offer some of the biggest chances at big money for March Madness.

How to Make Money Betting on March Madness

Betting on March Madness can be a heck of a lot of fun. It can also be very profitable if you are able to predict the outcomes of the games correctly. As we discussed earlier, there are three main types of bets that you can place during March Madness – single game bets, tournament winner bets, and bracket bets. Here’s a deeper insight into each bet type and some tips and suggestions on how you might be able to turn a profit with each.

Single Game Bets

These are by far the easiest bets offered as all you have to do is pick the winner of a single game. These bets are great if you happen to be an expert on a few specific teams. Leveraging that sort of knowledge can be tough in the entire tournament, but can be extremely lucrative when applied to a single game.

When making these bets, don’t bet on every single game unless you are truly an expert on every team or have a system you are working with. There is so much going on during March Madness that you can keep your bets segregated to the games with teams you are knowledgeable about. When you start betting games just for the sake of betting, you can really start cutting into your profit as you are essentially just guessing.

When we say to look at these games independently, we don’t mean to discount the rest of the tournament completely. You should weigh the teams against each other, but you also should pay attention to possible fatigue from earlier games or how good the team looked in previous tournament games. If this is in Round 1, look at their conference tournament. How long ago was it? Did they have to battle or was it smooth sailing? If you take all of this into account, you should be able to find some good bets on individual games.

Tournament Winner Bets

These bets are going to be your higher payoff/higher risk type bets. These bets are tough to be profitable on as you have to pick a team that is going to win six or seven games in a row. That being said, the payouts will compensate you for this so you shouldn’t discount these bets just because they are tougher to win.

There are a few different ways you can approach these bets to make some money. First, you can bet small and use these bets as more of a gamble to win big. Since the payout will be much higher than you would get on one game, you don’t have to risk a lot to get a big payout if you win. The second strategy you can employ here is to bet multiple teams. This will cost more regarding your bets and will lower the amount you win, but it will also increase the chances you have of winning one of your bets. Here’s an example:

Let’s say these are the odds to win for three different teams that you think have a shot to win.

  • Florida – 28 to 1
  • Villanova – 9 to 1
  • Kansas – 9 to 1

You could bet $150 on just Kansas to win. If you win, you will get paid $1350. You will only win though if Kansas wins it all.

You could take our advice and bet three teams to increase your odds of winning. Let’s say you bet $50 on each of the three teams up there. Here are the three possible outcomes.

  • If Florida wins, you will get paid $1400 minus $100 you lost on your other two bets. Profit $1300
  • If Villanova wins, you will get paid $450 minus $100 you lost on your other two bets. Profit $350
  • If Kansas wins, you will get paid $450 minus $100 you lost on your other two bets. Profit $350

As you can see, you will win less with the second option, but you are going to win MORE often. Remember, it’s extremely hard to pick one team out of 68 that is going to win the entire tournament. The second option gives you three chances instead of just one chance.

Much like the individual game bet, this type of bet will be available at almost all March Madness betting sites.

Bracket Bets

These bets typically take the most time to make as you have to pick winners for every game, but they are by far the most fun and can also have some of the biggest payouts. What’s great about these bets is that you can make one bracket or make multiple brackets and enter them into one or multiple competitions.

Basically, you have a ton of flexibility with this option. If you’re looking for a more likely win, you can enter your bracket into a pool with fewer entrants. First place might not be as much, but you are much more likely to be the winner. If you’re looking to try and hit a home run and score big, you can enter your bracket(s) into a pool with a lot of entrants.

It’s not uncommon to see pools where you can win thousands of dollars for $5 or $10 dollars. Yes, you are going to be less likely to be the first place winner, but if you do win, you will be paid handsomely. These size tournaments also are not usually winner take all and pay out consolation prizes which are really nice. These big field pools with low buy-ins and big payouts are usually only found online.

This is the one bet of the three that you’re not going to see at all March Madness betting sites. Some major sportsbooks will offer bracket betting options, but a lot of the time you are going to have to look for pools with friends or coworkers to get into the action.

Get Started Now

If you’re ready to start making some money on March Madness, the next step is to find a place to make your bets. We have several trusted and reputable online March Madness betting sites that we recommend players to use. These sites are great for beginners as they are user-friendly, have excellent support staff, and offer big bonuses just for playing. Take a few minutes and check out the sites we have listed above and we’re sure you’ll be able to find a new betting home in no time. Get set up now, so you’re ready to rock and roll come tournament time!

Filling out the “Perfect” March Madness Bracket

Having a bracket makes March Madness infinitely more fun to watch. It takes
the games that would normally not be of importance to you and makes them
exciting. Not only that, if you make the right picks you can make some serious
money betting on the tournament. Before we get started on the actual strategy,
let’s get a few basics on the bracket out of the way, so we are all on the same

Your bracket must be done before the First Four games begin. As the pathways
of the teams are set with the bracketing system, this becomes possible. There
are many places that offer brackets that start in later rounds so if you happen
to forget or your first round is disastrous, you still have options to get in on
the action. The brackets from the start are the most fun, though, and carry all
of the bragging rights if you hit it out of the park.

Very rarely you will find a March Madness bracket pool that does not award
additional points for later round picks. For the most part, the later the round
is, the more points you will receive for a correct pick. For the sake of this
strategy guide, we will be operating under the assumption that you will be
playing in one of these more popular formats. Ultimately, the strategy is
relatively the same regardless of the point format, but there are a few small

Don’t End up in the Doghouse With Underdogs

We all LOVE to pick the underdogs. Inherently, they are more fun to root for as we’ve all most likely been an underdog at some point in our lives. It’s also the ultimate bragging rights when you pick the crazy upset that no one else saw coming.

With a bracket, you can prove that you picked it too! Unfortunately, this line of thinking can lead a lot of us to get a little too carried away with picking upsets.

Will there be upsets in the tournament?
You can count on it!
Should you pick some in your bracket?
Most Definitely!

Remember, though, don’t let your heart or need for the ego boost get you in trouble by picking too many upsets. This can cost you money and tank your bracket in the first round.

Upsets will happen, and when you get them right, you’re going to pick up some extra points. The problem is that when you miss on an upset, you limit your chances of winning more points in the next round as you may only have one or zero of the teams in that game. Also, the odds that the upsetting team will win the next game are going to be even lower, so you’re probably going to be stuck picking the other team in the game unless you’re riding a really crazy hunch.

Here are some quick hit points to keep in mind when looking at upsets.

  • #13, #14, #15, and #16 seed teams average somewhere between one and two win a year in the first round. If you’re feeling frisky, you can take a shot on one of these, but the safe bet is to shy away from them. Any more than two of these picks, though, is pure madness and not the fun March kind of madness.
  • The higher seeded teams have won 71% of games in the tournament since 2002 (2015). This means that around 30% of the games are statistically going to be upsets, but the majority still goes as they are planned.
  • 76% of upsets are by #10, #11, or #12 seeds (2016). 27% of upsets are by 12 seeds alone. When looking to pick upsets, this is most likely where you’re going to want to zero in.
  • In the last 15 years, all but one year the winner has been a 1,2 or 3 seed (2017).

Be sure to keep this in mind if you’re planning on betting on March Madness. By betting on underdogs, you’re taking a big risk that most likely won’t pan out.

Throw Winning Percentages out the Window

A lot of new bracket makers have a tendency to put too much weight on a team’s winning percentages from the regular season. The problem with this is that strength of schedule is often all over the place. This means that a team with a high winning percentage might have that high number because they’ve played a bunch of terrible teams all years. Also, as the conference champions of each conference make it in, a lot of teams from awful conferences will be in the tournament with great win percentages that aren’t reflective of how good or poor they are as a team.

The best advice here is to either completely ignore this statistic or dig into it a bit further for some actual useful information. Take a look at a team’s record and look specifically at who they played and had wins against. If they’re from a weak conference, take a look at teams they played from other conferences. If you’re dead set on looking at win percentages, at least take a look at the percentages closer to tournament time. You can sometimes use this stat to identify teams that may be getting hot at exactly the right time.

Work Backwards

As most bracket pools award more and more points the later on in the tournament it is, you can see just how much more important it is to pick the overall winner of the tournament. Because of this, you should start with a champion and work your way backward so that every other pick reflects the most important and point heavy pick on your bracket.

If you are someone who likes to do research on your bracket (which we recommend), putting more time and effort into selecting who you think the champion will be and the teams that will make the later rounds will result in better odds of winning your bracket.

Just try and avoid getting too worked up overthink the first round picks. These are less important for actual points but more important to set you up for later round picks that award a lot more points. If you have the time, definitely spend it researching the earlier round games. If your time is limited, though, start at the end and work your way outward.

Use the March Madness Betting Sites Lines to Your Advantage

March Madness betting sites always put out what are commonly referred to as lines on games. These are point spread predictions on how many points they think a certain team is going to win or lose by.

You have to remember that the real experts (the people that work for the casino and sportsbook) are putting these predictions together which means they are going to right a lot of the time. These can be used to your advantage during the first round. They will only be available for the first round when you are making your bracket as the teams playing in the second round won’t be decided yet.

  1. First, these can help you if you have no idea about two teams or have never heard of them. If you’re unsure and don’t want to do extensive research, listen to the actual experts and go with the line.
  2. Second, you can use the point spreads to find upsets or upset potentials. The line isn’t always going to be matched up with the seeding. If you happen to find a team that is an underdog regarding seeding but is favored to win by the sportsbook lines, this is a fantastic upset to pick.

While these won’t be that common, you can also look for games that have a very close line of only a couple points. These are great candidates for upset picks.

The online sportsbook is also going to put out lines and odds on who they think is going to win the entire tournament. This can help to pick your teams to make the later rounds. Again, you don’t have to follow these exactly and probably shouldn’t, but they can be a great guide and starting point for you.

Pay Attention to Winning Streaks

Teams have to win six straight games to win the NCAA tournament. If a team is in the First Four games, they need to win seven. As you can imagine, this is no easy feat. Teams must have the mental resolve and the physical toughness to be able to bring their best performance in six or seven straight high-pressure games. Look for teams that have put together runs of this length throughout the regular season against tough opponents. A lot of successful betting models rely on this statistic to pick how teams will fare in the tournament. If a team has struggled to put together three or four good wins all season, you might not want to put much stock in them for the tournament. Again, make sure that you are looking at quality wins. Six straight wins against teams that didn’t even make the tournament should not count towards this type of analysis.

Be Wary of Bias or Popular Picks

This is actually going to be two tips in one, but they go hand in hand nicely. We all love to root for our favorite teams, and we always want them to win. Sometimes we want them to win so badly that we convince ourselves irrationally that they are going to win. The key word here is ‘irrationally.’ It’s extremely easy to allow our emotions and fandom to overtake our logical thoughts and data when selecting our bracket winners. It can feel almost like a sin to write in a loss early for our favorite team, but it’s a necessary evil if we’re looking to win our bracket and makes some money.

For those of us that just can’t bring ourselves to do this, make two brackets. Make your fairytale bracket where your school that just made its first big dance ever wins. But also make your rockstar bracket that accurately depicts what you think will realistically happen. If you’re betting on your brackets, we recommend putting more of your money or bets on your reality bracket.

Handling personal bias can be tough, but handling popular bias can be impossible sometimes. Every year before the tournament starts there are a few teams that the media are all hyped up about. Unfortunately, a lot of times this follows the teams that have the best storylines and not the actual best opportunity to win the whole tournament. If a team is being heralded by the media, make sure you take a deeper look as to why.

Is it really a great team that they found the storyline after the fact or is it a team with a great storyline that they fluffed the playing narrative to prop up after the fact? The latter is no good when it comes to betting.

The best advice we can offer with popularity bias is to make sure that you don’t let it override picks that you really believe in. Remember too, if everyone in your pool picks one team to win it all and that team loses, there is a big gap to steal the show with ease. That being said, if there is a popular team that is really THAT good, it’s hard to pick someone else just to be different.

Variance in 3-Point Happy Team

A lot of college basketball squads find most of their success in the three point shot. The problem, and perk, of this, is that teams can be streaky when they rely on this as their offense. Here’s what we mean. If a team gets all of its success from the three-ball, they have the potential to go cold and flop in the tournament. If a team happens to get hot with the three-ball, they are tough to beat no matter how low they are seeded. For example, VCU in 2011 made it the Final Four as a 12-seed, all because they got hot from beyond the arc.

So what does this mean you should do? If you’re looking for lower ranked teams that might be able to put together some upsets and make a run, this is a great spot to look. Teams that have the potential to heat up from beyond the arc are great upset candidates. On the other side of the coin, most three-point heavy teams have struggled to close the deal. Since 2002, only two champions have had a three point shooting rate that was higher than the collegiate average (2015). The bottom line is these teams are a great place to look for upsets, but can be risky to put all of your eggs into.

Choose the Right Pool Size

This is an often overlooked tip and is pretty important when it comes to trying to win. Pool size refers to the number of entrants that are in a certain bracket competition. Pools range from a couple of people to pools with thousands of entrants. Smaller pools are going to be easier to win as there are fewer people to beat. The drawbacks with these, though, is that the amount you can win will most likely be smaller and sometimes you have to be the outright winner to get paid.

For example, a 10 person pool might pay 100% to the winner and $0 to second place. In a 100 person pool, the top 5 or top 10 might get paid with the amounts increasing up the higher you place.

Larger pools are going to be tougher to win as there are more people and brackets to beat. However, they typically pay smaller consolation payouts to more than one player and the grand prize is usually huge. They’re great to try and win big on a smaller investment. If you only can find pools of a certain size amongst friends and coworkers, that may be what you are stuck with. But, you can always check out March Madness betting sites to see if they offer any pools that are a better fit for the buy-in size you like and the number of entrants you prefer.

Putting It All Together

We definitely just threw a lot at you, and you may feel more confused now than when we started. If you are, read through it again and pull out the key points and takeaways from each section. For those that are still with us, you may still be looking for a starting point. Start by figuring out who you think the ultimate champion will be. After that, figure out which teams you think will make the final four and then the elite eight.

After that, you can start working each region individually to match up with these higher value picks you’ve already made. Make sure to weigh in everything we talked about above in each pick. Remember, it can sometimes be easier to look at each game individually first and then weight the tournament wide implications to finalize your pick.

Once you get all your picks in, make sure that you review your bracket for mistakes or picks you meant to have gone another way. If you have a few different theories about how things might go, you can always make multiple brackets and enter them into different (or sometimes the same) competitions.

Some online sites will allow you to put multiple bracket entries in. This is great as the more entries you have, the more chances you have to win. Ultimately, just have fun with it and do the best you can. To this day, no one has ever had a perfect bracket so don’t sweat some losses.

How to Choose a Bookie for March Madness

When it comes to finding the right bookie for you, there are lots of
different ways to go about it. The easiest path would be to check out our
recommended March Madness betting sites at the top of this page. We’ve done the
homework for you on these operations, and we’re confident these are the best
places for you to wager online if you’re planning to bet on the big tournament.

If you’d like to explore some other operations, we’ve got some ideas for you.
A great thing to consider is websites which are ideal for your location. We’ve
added in links below to some of the most trafficked country pages. On these
pages, we’ll identify the options which will offer you the best online gambling
experience. If your country isn’t featured below, be sure to click on the all
countries link to see our selections for your home country.

Another way you might decide on which bookie to use for March Madness will be
which banking options you’d like to use. Below, we’ve included links to some of
the most popular deposit methods used for online gambling. You can explore these
pages if you’re definitely set on using one of these banking options when making
your deposit for your March Madness wagers.

  • Bitcoin
  • Visa
  • Mastercard

To see other ideas on how you might go about picking the best site for you,
be sure to check out the link below. On this page, you’ll find lots of insight
and guidance for how you can pinpoint the perfect basketball betting site for
you to call home.

The Rundown – What Is March Madness?

March Madness is the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament that is played every year in the spring to determine the outright Collegiate National Champion. Here are some quick facts to get you up to speed:

  • 68 teams compete in the tournament
  • 32 of the 68 teams receive automatic bids as winners of their conference championships.
  • The remaining 36 of 68 teams are given “at-large” berths or entries. These teams are voted on and selected by a NCAA selections committee.
  • The tournament takes place in early spring with the bulk occurring in March.
  • It is a single-elimination style tournament. Lose once, and you are out.

Picking the 68 Teams

As we mentioned above, 68 teams are selected to compete in the tournament every year. 32 of these teams are given automatic bids by winning their conference championship. It does not matter how good or how bad their season was, the winner of each conference championship is given a seat in the tournament automatically.

The remaining 36 slots in the tournament are decided by a selections committee made up of ten people including athletic directors and conference commissioners. Each committee member serves a five-year term, and members are selected from all over the country to attempt to cut down on any bias. Committee members are also required to leave the room when their particular school is being discussed. Athletic directors are allowed to remain in the room when other schools from their conference are discussed, but they are to remain quiet unless they are specifically called on to talk.

All discussions and selections are kept secret until Selection Sunday which is a televised program before the tournament where all teams that get bids to the tournament are announced. The 32 automatic bids will already know they are going to the tournament but will find out what seed they were given. The higher the seed, the easier the road to the championship usually.

The remaining slots and seeds will also be announced. Many teams will be pretty sure they are getting in, though, nothing is guaranteed. A lot of teams will be “on the bubble,” which means that it will be a big surprise to them if they make it into the tournament. Selection Sunday is always fun to watch as they usually have live shots of the teams as they are notified they have made it into the prestigious tournament.


Once the 68 teams are selected, they are sorted into four different “regions” which are just sections of the bracket. Each of these regions will play down to one team, and those four remaining teams will play in a final four bracket to determine the outright winner. Which bracket a team will play in is determined by a process called seeding.

Seeding is aimed to give the higher ranked teams an “easier” tournament schedule as a reward for doing better during the regular season. The teams will all be ranked from 1 to 68 and then placed in the appropriate region. The top four teams on the main list will be given #1 seeds in each of the regions. The remaining teams will be placed in the four different regions and given new seeding from 1-16.

The idea here is to make the competition in each region as equal and fairly balanced as possible. Within each region, favorable schedules are given to the higher seeded teams. Again, this is a reward for doing better during the regular season.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say a team is seeded third on the 1 to 68 list. As that team is one of the four highest-ranked teams in the tournament, they are given a 1 seed in one of the regions. The two higher ranked teams than them and the team directly below them are also all given 1 seeds in the other three different regions. This team’s first round game in their region will be against the lowest seed team that is placed in that region, the 16 seed. The other teams will be placed in the same manner to reward regular season play.

When placing the teams in their regions and bracket slots, the committee also follows a few additional guidelines.

  1. Teams that come from the same conference will not meet before the regional final if they have played each other on three or more occasions during the regular season and the conference tournament.
  2. If teams are from the same conference, they will not meet before the regional semifinals if they have played each other on two occasions during the regular season and conference tournament.
  3. Teams from the same conference are allowed to play against each other as early as the second round of the tournament if they have played no more than once during the regular season or the conference tournament.
  4. The committee reserves the right to relax any seeding principle if two or more teams from the same conference happen to be among the last four at-large seeded teams playing in the play in games.
  5. The teams seeded on the first four lines of the bracket in all regions will not be placed in a region that could potentially give them a home-field advantage in the first round.
  6. The committee will attempt to keeps teams as close to their “areas of natural interest” as possible. This means they’ll try to keep most teams in the region that is closest to their fan base if possible.
  7. Teams cannot play in a facility where they have played more than three games during the regular season. This does include exhibition games and post-season tournaments.
  8. A team could be moved one, possibly two, slots up or down the bracket to keep in line with these principles outlined.

One important thing to point out about the bracket is that once it is set, it is set. What we mean by this is that if you win your first round game, you will know the next team you face will be one of two teams (the winner of the game next to yours in the bracket).

After the first round, the teams are not shifted around or anything. They are slid to the winners slow of the bracket and face the team that is slid to the winner’s slot next to them. A team won’t know who they will play, but they can have a pretty good idea of who they might play. They can also be certain that they won’t face a team from any of the other regions until the Final Four.

If you’re still a bit confused, here’s an article from the NCAA that should help clarify any particulars.

Play-In Games

You may have noticed we mentioned something called play-in games or seen that the math for the different regions doesn’t quite add up. If there are four regions and 16 teams in each, that is 64 teams, not 68. The committee decided that they wanted to give a few more teams a chance to make it into the tournament, so they instituted what are known as play-in games. 60 teams are automatically given a slot in the first round of the 64 team tournament. The remaining four slots are left open, and teams compete to try and earn the final slots in the 64 team tournament. There has been some back and forth on the actual terminology on what to call these games. In 2016, they decided that these would be referred to as the “First Four Games” and the first set of games of 64 teams would be referred to as the first round.

The Rounds

There is quite a bit of terminology that is used regarding the NCAA tournament. The most important for you to know is the common terms used to refer to the different stages of the tournament.

First Four Games

These are the “play-in games” that allow the brackets to get down to an even 64 teams. For a few seasons, they tried calling this the first round, but it was too confusing, so they reverted back to this term in 2016.

Round of 64

This is the first round of the tournament even though a few games have been played prior.

Round of 32

This is the second round of the tournament. This is played by all of the winners of the first round games.

Sweet 16

This is the third round of the tournament. Sometimes it is referred to as the round of 16, but almost everyone calls it by this name.

Elite 8

This is the fourth round of the tournament.

Final 4

This is the fifth and next to last round of the tournament. Sometimes it is referred to as the semi-finals, but Final 4 is more often used. This is the first time that teams from different regions will meet and compete.


This is the sixth and final round of the tournament. This is also known as the Championship game where the winner will be crowned champion.

Attention Sports Bettors!

One thing we want to add here is that after each
round of the tournament, you are going to have some new options of bets that you
can make. You already know that each March Madness betting site is going to give
you futures odds on each team to win the tournament before the first tip off.
But, what you might not know is that these same March Madness betting sites are
also going to give you the ability to make these futures bets again after each
round. The odds will shift according to how good the teams look and who they are
matching up against in the next round, but the set up and how the bets work are
exactly the same.

You’ll also have options to make individual game bets as well after the next
round of games are set. As soon as both teams are decided for a future round
game, the online sportsbooks will release their opening lines and it
will be open season for you to jump in and find some value and make some money.

Lastly, some March Madness betting sites that run bracket pools will also set
up new second-chance brackets after the end of each round. The idea with these
brackets is an opportunity for bettors who had a terrible first round to get
another shot at winning. Do you have to have a terrible first round to take
advantage of the second-chance pools? Heck no! If you had a killer first round
and you have some new predictions after the first round shake out, you can find
some new value spots at a bunch of online betting sites to make some more

Typically, these “second-chance” brackets are done after each round all the
way up until the sweet 16. You potentially could see some variations in later
rounds, but those would require you to pick scores or do something additional
that could differentiate you from the competition or else you would have a
million winners and you’d make no money. Best advice – before the tournament
starts, check with the online sports betting sites you’re going to be betting
with and ask them what they are planning to offer. That way you can be fully
prepared to make the most money possible.


The venues that the games are played at change every year, but they do follow a similar format. The NCAA aims to have the sites as neutral as possible by imposing the seeding rules we discussed above. The Final Four location is decided years in advance, and there are no rules about moving it if it happens to be the home court of one of the teams playing. This is a rarity, though, as the Final Four is usually played in a larger arena than most college campus arenas. It is possible for a team to have the Final Four be played in their home city.

The First Four play-in games have always been played at the University of Dayton Arena, and this appears to be the plan going forward. This was also historically the site of the single play-in game that was standard from 2001-2010.

History of the Tournament

March Madness has undergone a lot of changes and evolutions since its creation in 1939. Here are a few highlights that are fun to know and awesome for trivia nights.

  • In 1975 the NCAA finally allowed multiple teams from the same conference to play in the tournament. Before this year, only one team was allowed into the tournament no matter what. This created some issues in years where certain conferences had a lot of strong teams.
  • In 1985 the tournament expanded to 64 teams. The tournament was originally eight teams from 1939-1950 and slowly grew throughout the years. In 2011, the number of teams was upped to the current 68 teams.
  • 2001 was the first year that we saw the single play-in game. This came as a result of the creation of the Mountain West Conference which did not receive an automatic bid. In response to this, the league created the play-in game. In 2011, this was expanded to four play-in games.

The Usual Suspects – Best March Madness Teams

Though colleges only keep their top players for a couple of years, the same squads continue to show up time and time again and make a statement come tournament time. This probably comes as a result of easier recruiting by winning teams as well as top-notch coaching staffs that know how to get the job done. We should point out that these teams aren’t relevant every year, but they have a tendency to show up and put on a show pretty regularly.

Kentucky Wildcats

Coached by legend John Calipari, the Kentucky Wildcats are always a force to reckon with when March rolls around. Kentucky impressively leads all schools in total NCAA tournament appearances (55), NCAA tournament wins (120), NCAA Tournament games played (167), NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances (41), NCAA Elite Eight appearances (36), and total postseason tournament appearances (63). The Wildcats have also played in 17 NCAA Final Fours, good enough for a tie for 2nd place of all time. The Wildcats are arguably one of the most feared squads in the tournament year after year.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Chapel Hill is the collegiate home to some of the greatest basketball players of all time including Michael Jordan, Billy Cunningham, and James Worthy. Through the 2016 season, the Tar Heels have boasted an impressive .738 win percentage which is the second highest of all time. With 47 trips to the big dance as of 2017, they are definitely a team to fear.

Kansas Jayhawks

Ranked number 2 on ESPN’s list of most prestigious college basketball programs of the modern era, Kansas knows what to do when March rolls around. As of 2017, Kansas has the longest running current streak of NCAA tournament appearances (27) and the most winning seasons in Division I college basketball history (97). With 45 trips to the tournament as of 2017, you can always expect an impressive performance out of the Jayhawks.

UCLA Bruins

11. As of 2017, that is the number of Championships the Bruins have won in Division 1 Men’s Basketball. 11 championships are the sign of a team that knows how to get to the tournament and knows how to close the deal. UCLA basketball saw the birth of such greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gail Goodrich, Reggie Miller and Bill Walton. With 45 trips to the tournament as of 2017, always keep your eyes on these closers.

Louisville Cardinals

With three national titles and 10 Final Fours, the Cardinals are no strangers to the tournament. Currently coached by legend Rick Pitino, the Cardinals have been to the tournament an impressive 41 times (12 of 15 seasons under Pitino as of 2017). Always keep an eye on the Cardinals come tournament time. They’re itching for another title.

Duke Blue Devils

Under the current guidance of Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke Blue Devils are always a force to be reckoned with. As of 2017, the Blue Devils have an impressive five National Championships, 16 Final Four visits, and 40 trips to the tournament. Their championship record currently has them tied for third all-time. Notable Blue Devils include Christian Laettner, J.J. Reddick, Grant Hill, Jahlil Okafor, and Jeff Mullins to name just a few. As of 2017, Duke has 36 players that have been named All-American, 60 total times. Watch out for the Blue Devils come March.

Some of the other notables that seem to always turn up around March include:

NCCA Teams

March Madness Awards, Rituals, and Influence

Cutting Down the Nets

One of the most memorable pictures you’ll see from any March Madness is the ceremonial cutting down of the nets. Teams will cut down the nets at the end of the regional championship as well as the national championship game. Players will go one by one and cut down a single strand of the net to take home with them as a souvenir to remember the day by.

Players go in order from seniors down to freshman, and the last loop of the net is cut off by the coach. The only exception to the coach cutting the last strand was in 2012 when Coach Rick Pitino allowed Kevin Ware to cut the net down as he had suffered a catastrophic leg injury during the tournament.

Influence on the NBA Draft

The timing of the tournament is conveniently three months before the NBA draft. As a lot of players playing in the tournament are expected to enter the draft, you can imagine the importance of a good performance to impress scouts and future teams.

An interesting study in 2012 from the National Bureau of Economics Research looked at the correlation of tournament performance to draft stock and its correlation to actual performance. The study found that a player who outperforms their season averages or is on a team that does considerably better than their seed will most likely be drafted higher than they originally would have. The study also pointed out that tournament performance did directly correlate with elite professional level accomplishments.

The study conclusion stated that even though tournament performance is evaluated by NBA scouts, it should be weighed even more.


The winner of the championship game is awarded two different trophies. From the NCAA, they are awarded a National Championship gold-plated wooden trophy. The National Association of Basketball Coaches also presents the winning team with a marble/crystal trophy that is much more elegant. This trophy is called the Siemens Trophy. This trophy is awarded at a separate presentation later to prevent any confusion for viewers.

Additional March Madness Resources

Sports Betting Essentials

If you’re new to sports betting in general, then be sure to visit our sports betting essentials page linked below. On this page, we’ll help you quickly get up to speed with all of the basic betting fundamentals you need to know to become a knowledgeable sports bettor. These skills will help set you up to be able to crush the March Madness betting sites and take the easy money from the weaker bettors.

Sports Betting Strategy

For those of you who are experienced sports bettors, we’d suggest you check out the link below to our sports betting strategy page. It’s on this page that we’ll dive into more advanced sports betting strategies that you can use to elevate your basketball betting skills. This page can also be an excellent resource for beginners who have already read through our essentials page linked above.

Basketball Betting

Another popular resource page on our website is the one we’ve built focused on basketball betting. Using the link below, you can check out this page to get the full scoop on everything relating to how to bet on basketball. While this is not March Madness specific information, the tips, tricks, and resources will still help you to crush the March Madness betting sites. At the end of the day, basketball is still basketball.

Basketball Betting Sites

If you’re a regular when it comes to basketball betting, be sure to check out the link below. This link will take you to our page which features the top basketball betting sites. We’ve come up with the best places for you to do your online betting. No matter if you’re into NCAA, NBA, or other global leagues, our selections on the link below are where you’ll want to place your bets when you’re not betting on March Madness.

Understanding Odds

We’ve also built out a page that’s focused on helping you understand sports betting odds. If you don’t feel you’ve got a good grip on betting odds and how they should impact your decisions, you won’t want to miss this page. On this page, we’ll help you learn everything you need to know about betting odds so you can improve your decision-making abilities when betting on March Madness or any other sporting event.

Basketball Betting Sites

Another great resource if you’re newer to sports betting is our page on common mistakes. Be sure to check this page out so you can learn about these mistakes so you can avoid making them yourself. By avoiding common sports betting errors, you’ll have a higher likelihood of being successful with your basketball betting.

March Madness Frequently Asked Questions

We didn’t want to leave you without including a collection of FAQs we often hear about March Madness betting. If you’re still on the hunt for some answers, we hope this section will be able to assist you. If you’d like to view one of the answers, you can click on the question itself.

What Are the Advantages of Betting Online?

Gambling online has several things associated with it which many people see
as advantages over traditional brick and mortar sportsbooks. Below, we’ll
highlight three of the main reasons why we prefer to gamble online.

Up first, operations like our suggested March Madness betting sites have vast
selections of gambling options. When it comes to a tournament like this one,
you’ll find a massive variety of bet types available on all of the games. You’ll
also be able to participate in in-play betting options. In general, you’ll find
a broader assortment of available wagers online than you will in most
traditional sportsbooks.

Another reason why we enjoy gambling online is because of the bonuses we can
earn. In many cases, you may be able to earn upwards of thousands of dollars in
bonus cash by simply doing your gambling online. Unlike land-based sportsbooks,
online ones often lure in new customers using mega welcome bonuses and then
offer other promotions to help keep them around.

Finally, the last big reason we like gambling online is because of the
convenience which comes along with it. It doesn’t get any easier than pulling
out your phone, placing a wager, and then going on about life. With online
gambling, you won’t have to waste time driving anywhere to place your bets. Try
it out, and see for yourself just how easy and fast it is.

How Many Online Betting Sites Should I Use?

If you’re new to online basketball betting and the tournament, we’d suggest
you get started with just one March Madness betting site. By doing this, you’ll
be able to get a good grasp of everything involved and become familiar with how
to bet on basketball online.

As you advance in your online betting skills and experience, you may want to
consider using more than one March Madness betting site. Many individuals do
this because it allows them to shop the lines on their wagers. In turn, they can
find the operations offering the best line for their wagers. By finding the best
lines, you’ll enjoy higher profits on the bets you correctly pick.

How Soon Can I Get Started?

It’s fast and simple to get started online. Don’t let the thought that it’s
too late to get started online hold you back. In many cases, you can be ready to
roll with online basketball betting in under 10 minutes.

If you’re ready to get started now, be sure to select one of our recommended
March Madness betting sites above. You’ll then need to sign up for an account
and fund it so you can begin placing bets on basketball and other sports. Be
sure to use an instant funding deposit method like Skrill, Neteller, or Bitcoin
if you’d like to be able to place bets immediately after making a deposit.

Is It Safe to Bet Online?

Those of you that are new to online gambling might feel unsure about the
safety surrounding it. Luckily, if you end up using a trusted March Madness
betting site like the ones we’ve included on this page, you’ll be in good hands.
We’ve ensured that every one of our suggestions has top-notch security measures
in place to keep you safe.

Unfortunately, not all gambling sites are trustworthy places to gamble. To
make sure you don’t run into any issues, be sure to research operations
thoroughly before signing up with them and making a deposit. In most cases, the
folks who run into problems started gambling online without having done any
research on the website they signed up with.

Do Your Recommendations Allow Me to Place In-Play Wagers?

Yes. If you’re a fan of live betting, you’ll be able to enjoy placing those
types of wagers at any one of our top March Madness betting sites showcased at
the top of this page. We’ve investigated each one to ensure they allow for
in-play wagers on March Madness.

For those of you who don’t know what in-play bets are, they are a type of
wager which allows you to bet as the game happens. In contrast to standard
sports bets that have to be completed before the game begins, live betting
occurs during the action. With this type of wager, you can wager on things such
as a quarter or half-time winner of March Madness games.

Biggest First Round Upsets of March Madness

One of the most exciting things about March Madness is watching for the inevitable upsets. Watching the excitement and heartbreaks associated when a team that has “no chance” of winning pulls off a miracle and advances to the next round. There have been plenty of these upsets in history, and we’re sure this year has a lot more in store for us. Here are a couple of the biggest first round upsets in the modern era of college basketball. For those of you that have been fans, you’ll probably remember most of these.



March 16, 2012

Missouri was favored to win by 21.5 points

As you can imagine with such a huge point spread, most people didn’t even plan on tuning into this game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Spartans came play. With a few impressive performances by Spartans players, the Spartans found themselves up two points with just under four seconds left. Kyle O’Quinn, who had a team-high 26 points, had a chance to ice the game with two free throws. Pressure rattled the youngster as he missed both giving the Tigers a chance to tie or win. Phil Pressey of the Tigers missed a 3-point bucket as time expired resulting in one of the most devastating losses in tournament history.



March 18, 2016

Michigan was favored to win by 16.5 points

After a fantastic season and a conference championship victory, no one gave thought to this game. That is, of course, except for the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Blue Raiders ceased the lead early and never gave it back. We can guarantee you that Tom Izzo and his Spartans have not forgotten this game yet.



March 22, 2013

Georgetown was favored to win by 14 points.

Florida Gulf Coast had to be ecstatic just to be in the tournament. This was their very first appearance and had to be surreal just to get an invite. They had bigger plans apparently, though. The first half ended with the Eagles up by two. Critics were impressed, but no one was really batting an eye. They expected the Hoyas to explode in the second half. They were close, except the correct term was implode. The Eagles scored an impressive 54 second half points to finish off the route in stylistic fashion.



March 21, 2014

Duke was favored to win by 13 points.

With about five minutes to go in the game, everything seemed to be in proper working order for Duke. They weren’t up by the 13 points predicted but had a five point lead they were hoping to ride into the second round. Unfortunately, the Bears were on a run that continued through the last five minutes. Not only did they Bears pull off the crazy upset, but they won by seven points. It was a bad day to be a Blue Devil fan.

The Wrap-Up

Pure madness.

As you can see, March Madness is one of the most exciting and history filled times in collegiate sports. It’s jam packed with emotions fueled by exciting victories and devastating heartbreaks. Hopefully, you are now much more knowledgeable on the subject and are as excited as we are for this year’s tournament.

If you are planning on making a bracket or placing some bets, make sure you review our strategy section above to give yourself the best chances to come out the victor.