Each year, more than 70 million people fill out brackets for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, known as “March Madness” for the stories that emerge from each weekend of play. More than $10 billion is expected to go down in bets on the tournament this year, with college basketball betting coming from casual fans and professional bettors alike. We have put together some tips for you to consider as you put down money on this year’s bracket of 68 teams.
How to Bet the 2019 March Madness Tournament
NEW Power 36 from @TheAndyKatz!
4. Kentucky ⬆️1️⃣
5. Virginia ⬇️1️⃣
7. Michigan ⬆️4️⃣
8. Purdue ⬆️1️⃣
9. Houston ⬆️1️⃣
10. North Carolina ⬆️3️⃣
11-36. 👉 https://t.co/X5we6nqgL1 pic.twitter.com/agfDtFcD5Z
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) 11 de febrero de 2019
Don’t get fooled by winning percentages
There are some teams that build up terrific win-loss records by taking on easy teams in non-conference play and then moving into a relatively unchallenging conference. There are other teams that have a tougher non-conference slate but then go more than a month without any tough challenges because of their conference. An example of the former is Houston, who has only loss on the season (to Temple), but their non-conference and conference schedules don’t offer much of a challenge, as the American Athletic Conference is down all around this year.
An example of the latter is Gonzaga, who took down some tough competition in non-conference play but are members of the West Coast Conference, where the only real competition comes from St. Mary’s, but even the Gaels are well down the power rankings from the Bulldogs. So I don’t see Houston or Gonzaga cutting down the nets at the end of March Madness, and I’d be surprised to see Houston make the second weekend, if they even make the second round.
Be smart with your underdogs
Maryland-Baltimore County shocked the betting world last year when they eliminated Virginia as a #16 seed — the first time a #16 had ever knocked off a #1. However, if you look at the bottom sixteen seeds (the #13 through #16 seeds in each bracket) you will only see one or two of them win in the first round each year on average. So look for your seeds in the top four that seem shaky.
That would be an overrated team from a Power 5 conference that struggled down the stretch, had a poor showing in their conference tournament, or who struggles with their guard play, because teams with poor guard play turn the ball over more, giving momentum even to teams that are considered Cinderellas. But don’t pick more than two of these lowest seeds to advance.
Take your upsets from the 5-12 and 6-11 matchups
Five-seeds lose to 12-seeds about a third of the time, and six-seeds lose to 11-seeds at about the same clip. Why? Five- and six-seeds are often Power 5 teams that get cushy seeds because of the conference they play in, not because of their own actual basketball ability. Then they face a team from a mid-major conference that may have either won that conference outright in the regular season or pulled off an upset in the conference tournament to get that qualifying spot.
They’re rolling in on a ton of momentum and are hungry to take down a Power 5 team…while the Power 5 team does not take the mid-major seriously — and doesn’t have the talent that their seed suggests. Again, pay attention to teams that stumble late and teams with poor ball security. Also, teams that rely on a stingy defense to win can end up getting upset here, because they don’t have the offense to recover if they fall into a hole early.
Finally, take a look at how the teams do in close games. If they can come back from deficits to win late, that builds grit over the course of the season and will serve them well. How did they do in the conference tournament? If they didn’t win it all, did they fight hard in close games? Answers to those questions will prove helpful when you’re making those tough bracket picks.