NCAA Tournament Odds
San Diego State
Should your bracket picks for the NCAA basketball tournament only include powerhouses like the UCLA Bruins, Kentucky Wildcats, and North Carolina Tar Heels? Will another big underdog like Villanova’s 1985 championship team prevail again?
If you’re new to sports betting, including betting on college basketball and NCAA men’s basketball tournament odds, then making picks can be as challenging as making a game-winning buzzer-beater shot in the last second of the title game. Learning the fundamentals can help you make more informed bets and increase your chances of success.
If you’re looking for a flexible online sportsbook like MaximBet.com, we offer updated odds for NCAA sports like basketball. Read on to learn more about betting on the college basketball tournament. We’ll explain how to read NCAA championship lines, the types of bets on the NCAA tournament, and tournament betting strategies.
College Futures Odds: NCAA Basketball Tournament
A futures bet is on a game, series, or award that will happen sometime after the current day. This bet is popular in many pro leagues, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.
Some examples of futures bets in NCAA basketball betting include the winner of tournaments, basketball or hoops games, or the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
Selecting the potential winner of the NCAA basketball tournament is one of the most challenging tasks in sports betting.
The situation is due to factors like teams needing to win six straight games and the “win or go home” single-elimination format.
Another critical factor is that the NCAA doesn’t set the tournament brackets until Selection Sunday, which is during the week of the first round’s games.
Hoops powerhouses will be the top seeds of the tourney. Lower odds exist, however, for the schools in the middle of the pack.
As with betting on other college futures odds, placing bets on March Madness games requires weighing factors like transfers, injuries, and suspensions.
For example, key players could decide to stay or leave before the basketball preseason.
NCAA Basketball Tournament: How Does It Work?
The NCAA basketball tournament is a yearly 68-team, single-elimination tournament. If a team loses just one game, they’re out of the tournament.
This college hoops tournament crowns the NCAA Division 1 men’s national champion. The tournament is known by the moniker “March Madness” due to the hectic 67 games played in less than three weeks.
Selection Sunday is the special event that announces the college teams that will participate in the tournament. The selection committee also announces each team’s seeding and the brackets that determine the first-round matchups.
Other gigantic one-day sports betting events include the Super Bowl. The yearly college basketball tourney, nonetheless, is the biggest multi-day event for sports betting. The tournament includes the odds to win the NCAA tournament.
The tournament’s participants include 32 teams that get automatic berths through winning their conferences.
Meanwhile, a 10-member selection committee picks the 36 other “at large” basketball teams. The group’s members include conference commissioners and athletic directors.
Selecting the 36 at-large schools is a complex process needed to finalize the tournament’s seeding and brackets.
The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) is the primary method by which the selection committee picks the basketball tournament’s at-large schools. NET uses these metrics:
- Strength of schedule
- Game results
- Scoring margin
- Quality of wins and losses
- Offensive and defensive efficiency
- Game location
Reading and Understanding NCAA Tournament Odds
Placing bets on NCAA basketball odds to win the championship may seem complex, especially if you’re new to college hoops betting. You might see odds listed this way at reliable online sportsbooks like MaximBet.com:
Oklahoma State +8000
The above odds show how bets would pay out if the college teams could win six consecutive games in the NCAA tournament and take home the national championship trophy.
The Baylor Bears and Gonzaga Bulldogs have the lowest odds, which means they’re the most likely to win it all.
These two hoops teams squared off last season in the 2020 national title game. The underdog Bears shocked the Zags 86-70.
This futures bet is different from a moneyline bet or a point spread bet where the favorite is indicated by a minus sign (-), and the underdog is denoted by a plus sign (+).
In this scenario, Baylor is the favorite to win the tournament because it has the lowest odds. The number by the plus sign indicates the payouts for each $100 bet.
Let’s say you made a $100 bet on the Baylor Bears, and the Texas college won it all. You’d receive a $300 profit plus your $100 original bet for a $400 total payout.
These figures are in American odds. The same line in fractional odds would be listed as Baylor 3/1.
Several “Cinderella teams'' have greatly exceeded expectations as NCAA tournament longshots. The Villanova Wildcats were the tournament’s lowest seed (8) to win it all by shocking the Georgetown Hoyas 66-64 in the 1985 tournament.
Betting on such big underdogs as Loyola Chicago and Oral Roberts requires an enormous risk yet greater chances for a huge payout. In the example above, betting $100 on Oklahoma State would provide an $8,100 total payout if it hits. That includes an $8,000 profit and the $100 original bet.
How to Handicap NCAA Tournament Brackets
Today, so-called “bracketology” for predicting the NCAA tournament’s games, rounds, or champion is more than gambling sweepstakes including “office pools.”
Bettors can fill out online brackets then earn winnings based on the tournament's results.
Key Factors Affecting NCAA Tournament Odds
Some critical factors affecting NCAA basketball tournament odds include:
The number of key players returning to a team, including leading scorers and possible player of the year candidates, can affect tournament odds.
Like college football players joining the NFL, today, it’s common for basketball stars like Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga) to enter the NBA draft after a few years playing college hoops.
Meanwhile, many players like Johnny Juzang (UCLA) decide to return and sometimes play up to their senior year.
Other factors that can affect a team's roster include its recruiting class and school transfers.
When reviewing teams on the odds board, check out how they performed in last year’s basketball tournament. For example, did they have an early exit or pull off an upset of the region’s No. 1-seeded team?
NCAA Tournament Brackets: Moneylines, Over/Under, and Spreads
These betting odds are on a basketball team to win in a straight-up bet. It’s indicated by a number that’s relative to $100. Here’s an example:
North Carolina (-200)
These moneyline odds show that you’ll have to wager $200 to receive a $100 profit. The minus sign (-) shows that North Carolina is the favorite.
Here’s another example:
In this case, the plus sign (+) shows that the Bruins are the underdog. If you make a $100 bet, then you’ll get a $300 payout. The total payout will be $400, including your $300 profit plus the $100 original bet.
In this type of bet, the favorite is again shown by a minus symbol. In contrast, the underdog is indicated by a plus symbol. Here’s an example:
Houston -3 vs. Iowa +3
In this situation, Houston is favored by three points, while Iowa is a three-point underdog. Houston can “cover the spread” if it wins by four or more points. Meanwhile, an Iowa bet wins if Iowa wins outright or loses by fewer than three points.
If Houston only wins by the exact margin they’re favored by (3 points), then it’s a “push,” and all bettors receive their original bet back.
This particular betting type is also known as a totals bet. It’s one of the most basic betting options at the NCAA tournament besides the moneyline bet. Oddsmakers project a total combined score for both teams.
A bettor must then pick “over” or “under” that set score. The over/under number can be a whole number (140) or a fraction (140.5).
NCAA Tournament Betting Strategies
When making March Madness bets, you have several possible sources of NCAA hoops statistics, including against the spread (ATS). Here are some other factors to consider:
- Defensive efficiency
- Key injuries
- Late-season results (e.g., conference tournament)
- Performance of each tourney seed in each tourney round ATS
- Tournament historical trends
- “Fading the public” when line movement is based on a team’s popularity instead of performance on the hardwood floor
NCAA Tournament: Tracking National Championship Lines
Leagues like the NBA, MLB, and NHL use a 7-game series to determine which squad is the stronger one.
The process of how the NCAA college hoops champion is determined is more complex than a big underdog beating a powerhouse in the Final Four through one-game elimination.
In addition, big NCAA tournaments like college hoops have a significant effect on basketball players and coaches. For example, several student-athletes graduate or join the NBA draft in June.
One of the most thrilling parts of betting on NCAA futures like the NCAA basketball tournament is that bettors follow teams’ journeys throughout the regular season.
That includes the teams’ chances of earning a spot in the “big dance” and possibly advancing to rounds, including:
- First Four (play-in series of bottom-seeded automatic bids and at-large teams)
- First Round
- Second Round
- Sweet 16
- Elite Eight
- Final Four
It’s reasonable to project that many of the past upsets like NC State over Houston in the 1983 championship game likely wouldn’t have happened in a 7-game series.
The problem is that’s not the hurdle NCAA hoops teams have to overcome. A team must be the only one in the tourney to go 6-0 and be crowned national champions.
NCAA futures, including the basketball tournament, set the likelihood that teams have the talent, skills, and coaching to win it all.
Odds to win the national championship are often available soon after the NCAA basketball season ends. It’s worth noting, though, that the odds constantly change during the season due to factors like game results, transfers, and injuries.
How to Track NCAA Tournament Odds
Here are some tips for tracking March Madness odds:
- Track the average odds of all major Division 1 basketball programs for the next hoops tournament
- View teams individually or with other squads trending in the same direction
- Consider favorites and possible surprising “sleeper” mid-range teams that could get hot in the tourney
These are some basketball conferences that often have top-seeded teams in the tournament and some schools within the conferences:
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
- University of NorthCarolina (UNC)
- Florida State
- Oklahoma State
- West Virginia
- Oregon State
- Texas Tech
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- University of Southern California (USC)
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
- Louisiana State University (LSU)
NCAA Basketball Tournament Legalities
Bettors physically located in various states can place bets on March Madness games, including those from states such as Colorado, Michigan, and New Jersey.
Several states have pending legislation for gambling legalization. So, it’s possible that by the 2022 NCAA tournament next year, more states will allow bets through legal online sportsbooks like MaximBet.com.
When betting on March Madness games, it’s important to research teams, practice responsible gambling, and have fun. Contact us today at MaximBet.com for more information on college basketball and the NCAA tournament.