NCAA Tournament Betting

NCAA Tournament Betting Tips


One of the world's most popular sporting events is no doubt the NCAA tournament. The pinnacle of the NCAA basketball season, this tourney features the cream of the college hoops crop - along with a few underdogs too. Because there's such a disparity between teams in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament, this can be a really tough event to wager on. But with a little luck, and a lot of hard work, you can clear up the confusion of March Madness. That said, let's discuss some NCAA tournament betting tips which can improve your profits.

Tip #1 - Find Value in the Early Rounds

Long-term NCAA betting success hinges on your ability to find value where most other bettors can't. And the first and second round of the NCAA tourney is the perfect place to discover soft lines. The reason why is because you'll find a lot of small school vs. big school matchups. And since oddsmakers haven't seen a lot of the smaller schools in action throughout the season, some of their lines may provide a lot of value.

So how do you go about finding the softer first and second round lines? There's no one-size-fits-all answer here; however, there are a few general matchups you can look for. First off, high-profile favorites are often undervalued when they play low seeds that came out of nowhere to win their conference tourneys. These games usually turn out to be 25 or 30-point blowouts, which is much worse than the line could indicate.

Secondly, smaller unheralded schools that can shoot the three are a decent bet to cover the spread against better opponents. So if you can get a good price on these matchups, go for it.


Tip #2 - Focus on the Important Stats: Defense and Rebounding

Not to throw out cheesy cliches, but the old saying "defense wins championships" definitely applies in the NCAA tournament. And they should make up another motto that states how "rebounding wins championships" because this is also critical. Focusing on both rebounding and defensive stats is an excellent way to spot teams destined for March Madness success.

Field-goal percentage defense is a VERY important stat. After all, constantly forcing teams to take bad shots is a winning recipe. Scoring defense is also important; however, keep in mind that this stat can be artificially inflated due to a team's slow playing style.

Rebounding margin is an excellent indication of a team's ability to prevent second chance points, and get extra shorts for themselves. When you combine solid rebounding margin numbers with strong defense, you can be fairly confident betting on certain teams.

Tip #3 - Look for Battle-Tested Teams

Another great way to spot potential tournament winners is by looking for teams that've faced top competition all year long. Using the 2013 NCAA tournament as an example, the Big Ten basketball conference was largely regarded as the nation's toughest league, and several top 25 teams faced off against each other on any given night.

When it came tournament time, they placed four out of seven teams in the Sweet 16, three teams in the Elite Eight, and Michigan in the Final Four. So those making moneyline wagers on the Big Ten collectively came out pretty good. That said, always take a look at teams from the toughest conferences when you're betting.


Tip #4 - Save Big Bets for Teams you know

In the very first tip, we discussed how it's always nice to look at first round matchups and find value. But you should also consider how important it is to direct the bulk of your betting action towards teams you know. For example, if your entire season was spent on SEC basketball betting, it'd be foolish to start wagering on all kinds of other teams.

Taking this concept to a broader perspective, it's a good idea to focus all of your betting action on one or two particular conferences. This way, you build familiarity with the teams and, come NCAA tournament time, you'll be a much wiser bettor. Of course, if you have a large bankroll, it never hurts to bet a small percentage of your roll on soft first and second round lines.

Tip #5 - Don't put so Much Stock in Close-to-Home Teams

Every year March Madness bettors can't get to the sportsbooks fast enough when they see a high seed that's playing close to home. For instance, Louisville played their first and second round games in Lexington, Kentucky, which meant a lot of their fans were able to make the games. And it makes sense to heavily wager on Louisville to cover the spread in a situation like this because they've practically got home court advantage.

However, bettors should understand that bookmakers have already factored this advantage into the line. After all, bookmakers only create lines that they think will balance out action on both sides; so they're going to consider what the public thinks of the close-to-home team before offering a line.

Above all, note that the NCAA tournament offers a lot of variance in regard to sports betting. So if you make a few bad wagers, don't get discouraged, and keep learning everything you can to have a better chance at winning.