March Madness Betting Odds


The NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, is a single-elimination tournament which started in 1939, consisting of 68 participating teams all vying to be crowned national champions. The 2018 edition of March Madness will run from March 13th all the way up until April 2nd, with the Final Four and National Championship game taking place in San Antonio, Texas. From the latest lines to must-know betting insights, we break down everything you need to know to bet on March Madness odds.

March Madness Game Lines

March Madness Futures Odds

March Madness Live Betting

How to Bet on March Madness

Betting on March Madness is big business. It’s a feeding frenzy when the first NCAA Championship odds hit the board. Betting handle on basketball hit new records in Nevada last March, with a massive total of $430 million in wagers – almost twice as much as 10 years ago. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s happening online. Want to get in on the action? Here’s a look at what you can expect for this year’s tournament, and how you can get the most value out of the college basketball betting lines.

  1. 1. March Madness Spread Betting

    The most popular form of March Madness betting is the point spread. Before every game, a list of NCAA Tournament lines will be posted, with a spread attached. One team will be considered the favorite; to cash in, they’ll have to win by a certain number of points (known as the point spread). For the underdog to cash in, they’ll have to either win the game or lose by fewer points than the spread. For example, North Carolina was a 1.5-point favorite at last year’s National Championship Game, meaning they had to win by at least 2 points to cover – which they did.

    Usually, one team or the other will win a basketball game against the spread (ATS), but not always. If the spread for a game is a “flat” number, i.e. a whole number, and the favorite wins by exactly that number of points, it’s called a push, and all monies wagered are returned to the bettors.

    There’s an extra feature with point spread betting called buying points, where you have the option of moving the spread a half-point in either direction. You can only make this move onto a flat number; at last year’s final, you could have taken Gonzaga at +2 instead of +1.5, or North Carolina at –1 instead of –1.5. Buying points will help you turn some losses into pushes.

  2. 2. March Madness Betting the Moneyline

    The moneyline is the old-school way of expressing the March Madness odds. Instead of betting against the spread, you simply bet on one team to win the game straight-up (SU). The Tar Heels were –125 favorites on the moneyline against Gonzaga, meaning you would have to bet $125 to win $100 (smaller and larger bets are allowed). The Bulldogs were +105 underdogs, and would have paid out $105 for every $100 wagered if they had won the championship. If you like an underdog to pull off the upset and beat the favorite SU, you’ll make more money by placing a moneyline bet, provided your team comes through for you.

  3. 3. March Madness Over Under Betting

    Also known as the total, the over/under continues to grow in popularity on the March Madness lines. All you need to do here is bet on whether the combined final score of the game will go over or under the posted total. The over/under for last year’s title game was 155 points, so the Under was the winning bet. If North Carolina and Gonzaga had combined for exactly 155 points, it would have been a push – all monies returned, just like in spread betting.

  4. 4. March Madness Future Betting

    Don’t want to wait until the tournament to start betting? You can pick a winner right now. Odds to win NCAA Championship glory are available year-round in the futures section of Bovada Sportsbook. A futures bet is a bet on the winner of a major event placed before the event comes. At press time, the Michigan State Spartans and Villanova Wildcats are tied as +500 co-favorites to win the championship. Futures odds will be available all the way up until the tournament boils down to the last two teams.

  5. 5. March Madness Prop Bets

    Proposition bets, or prop bets for short, ask you to wager on something aside from the outcome of a specific game. These bets usually fall into two categories: team props, and player props. A team prop could be as simple as how far the Spartans will advance in the Tournament, while player props will ask you to wager on a specific individual performance, like how many points Michigan State guard Miles Bridges will score in a particular game. March Madness prop betting has become increasingly popular over the years, and you can expect to find more and more props on the NCAAB odds board as the tournament gets closer to the National Championship Game.

  6. 6. March Madness Parlay Bets

    If you plan on making multiple straight bets (spread, moneyline or total) on the college basketball betting lines, you can increase your potential payout by combining up to 12 of those lines in a single bet known as a parlay. Your payout will rise exponentially if you get all your picks right – you can win over 2,300 times your original bet with a 12-team parlay. But you have to get every pick correct for your parlay to pay out. It’s all about managing risk versus reward; many bettors will stick to 2-team parlays, often combining the spread and total from the same game. Teams, in this case, refers to the Over or Under as well as the teams on the basketball court.

  7. 7. March Madness Teaser Bets

    A teaser is a special kind of parlay that lets you move every single line by a certain number of points. When you’re dealing with NCAA Tournament lines, you can tease by 4, 4.5, 5, or 6 points. The more points you tease by, the smaller the payout gets; in return, you have a greater likelihood of winning. For example, if you had a 2-team teaser for last year’s Championship Game with Gonzaga at +6.5 instead of +1.5, and Under 160 instead of 155, you would have been paid out at –120. The maximum number of teams you can put in a teaser is 10, down from 12 for a standard parlay.

    In addition to these teasers, there are special sweetheart teasers where you can move the lines by 10 points, or even 13 points. Added restrictions apply here; a 10-point sweetheart teaser must contain a minimum of three teams, while a 13-point sweetheart teaser requires at least four teams. Once again, the payouts get smaller the more points you tease by.

  8. 8. March Madness Live Betting

    All the betting options we’ve mentioned thus far have to be made before the game in question starts, but you can also take advantage of the March Madness odds while a game is in progress. You can bet live on March Madness by clicking the LIVE MODE button at the top right of the odds page for the game you want to bet on; a separate window will appear, showing you the running point spread, moneyline and total. These lines will be updated throughout the game as play continues. Other prop bets may be available as well, like what the next point will be (a free throw, a 2-pointer or a 3-pointer), or whether a certain player will make his next shot.



2018 March Madness Odds Preview: Villanova No. 1

The Virginia Cavaliers have had an amazing year on the hardcourt. After starting life as +7500 long shots on the NCAAB futures market, the Cavaliers have enjoyed arguably the best season of anyone in college hoops, going 31-2 SU and 20-9-1 ATS and winning their second ACC title under head coach Tony Bennett. Virginia’s run was so impressive, the selection committee named them the No. 1 overall seed for this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The betting market thinks otherwise. Once the dust had cleared on Selection Sunday, it was the Villanova Wildcats (30-4 SU, 22-12 ATS) standing tall at +600 on the March Madness odds list, just ahead of Virginia at +650. It’s practically a coin toss between the two teams; Villanova played at an incredibly high level this year, winning the Big East tournament along the way, and they earned the No. 1 seed in the East Region – setting the ‘Cats up for a potential Final Four meeting with the Cavaliers, who will do battle in the South Region.

NCAAB March Madness Betting Bypasses Duke, Michigan State

It’s somewhat surprising to see Virginia and Villanova dominating the March Madness betting lines. That honor usually goes to the really big-name programs like the Duke Blue Devils (26-7 SU, 20-11 ATS), who have to settle for third place this year at +800 after getting bounced from the ACC tournament in the second round. Duke were +400 co-favorites on the college basketball futures odds after signing top prospect Marvin Bagley III in the offseason; now they’re the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, behind the Kansas Jayhawks (27-7 SU, 18-14-1 ATS), who check in at +1200 after salvaging a so-so regular season by winning the Big 12 title.

The Michigan State Spartans (29-4 SU, 15-16-2 ATS) were tied with Duke at +400 back in November, but after a scandal-ridden end to their regular-season and an early departure from the Big Ten tourney, the Spartans enter the Big Dance as +1100 second-tier favorites on the college basketball odds board. They’ll try to regroup as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest. Both Duke and Michigan State were named in the FBI investigation into recruiting violations, and the Spartans have also been caught up in the wider sexual misconduct issues that have turned MSU’s athletic department upside-down.

XU Marks Spot on 2018 NCAAB Men’s Championship Odds Board

There’s one more No. 1 seed on the March Madness bracket, and it’s a bit of a surprise: the Xavier Musketeers (28-5 SU, 21-12 ATS), who will represent the West Region. Xavier didn’t make it past the second round of the Big East tournament, and they didn’t play at nearly the same level as Villanova, dropping both their regular season meetings by double digits. Bettors aren’t fooled, leaving the Musketeers at +1500 to win the Tournament.

The Arizona Wildcats (27-7 SU, 14-18-2 ATS), on the other hand, have reportedly drawn more action than any other team on the March Madness futures market. Arizona nearly unraveled last month after head coach Sean Miller stepped away following the FBI investigation, but Miller returned to duty and led the ‘Cats on a successful title defense at the Pac-12 tournament. That momentum has ‘Zona at +1200 odds to win March Madness, although they’re only a No. 4 seed in the South Region.

March Madness Betting Lines Await First Four Results

The Big East may have put two No. 1 seeds in the Tournament, but both Villanova and Xavier will have to wait to see who their opponents will be in the First Round. The Wildcats will play the winner of Tuesday’s First Four matchup (6:40 PM ET, truTV) between the No. 16 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds and the No. 16 Radford Highlanders, with Radford laying 4.5 points at press time. And the Musketeers await the winner of Wednesday’s game (6:40 PM ET, truTV) between the No. 16 Texas Southern Tigers and the No. 16 North Carolina Central Eagles.

Virginia already knows who they’ll meet in their opener: the No. 16 UMBC Retrievers, the surprise winners of the America East tournament. They’ll play Friday night at 9:20 PM ET on TNT. Meanwhile, Kansas finds themselves in an interesting Thursday matinee (2 PM ET, TBS) with the No. 16 Pennsylvania Quakers, who crushed the Ivy League this year. We have yet to see a No. 16 seed advance to the Second Round of the Big Dance, but the Quakers are easily the best of this year’s hopefuls – and Kansas is a relatively weak No. 1 seed. Anything can happen at March Madness.


March Madness Betting Tips

It takes a certain amount of cunning and strategy to beat the March Madness lines and make yourself a little money during the Tournament, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist – you only have to do better than the average person. And at this time of year, there are countless recreational bettors who just want to put a few dollars on their favorite teams, without putting too much effort into strategy. There will be more of these bettors as you get deeper into the tournament and the games get more important; the Elite Eight odds will be easier to beat than the Sweet 16 odds, and the Final Four odds will be softer still.

The most important thing to remember with March Madness betting is that it’s not you against the sportsbook. Your competition is the other bettors in the marketplace; if they put too much money on one team, the book will move the odds in order to get more bets on the other team, hoping to balance the action and make it easier to pay the winners, no matter what the final score is. As a general rule, recreational bettors tend to overvalue favorites, so the betting value is often with the underdogs.

There are a number of ways you can take advantage of these tendencies. If you’re thinking about making a bet on the March Madness futures market, your best value won’t be with the teams at the top like Michigan State; look further down the NCAAB championship odds list for a quality team with a little less brand-name recognition – maybe even a team like Gonzaga, who almost won the championship last year.

Once the tournament rolls around, you can usually find some betting value in the same games that smart basketball fans circle as “upset specials” on their March Madness brackets. These are usually games between the 4-seeds and the 13-seeds, 5 vs. 12, and 6 vs. 11. The teams with the higher-numbered seeds are usually the champions of smaller conferences that don’t get a lot of publicity, while the lower-numbered seeds are often “at-large” teams from the big-name conferences like the ACC and the Big Ten. Those at-large teams aren’t necessarily that good, and they may lack motivation at the Big Dance if they had bigger expectations for themselves coming into the new season.

That covers everything you need to get started with betting on the NCAA Tournament. You now know about the structure of the Tournament itself, the different ways you can bet on March Madness, and the betting fundamentals that will help you with your March Madness picks. For more information, make sure to consult the ever-growing treasure trove of college basketball articles and analysis here at Bovada, and best of luck on the hardcourt this year.


*Odds as of March 12, 2018