Handicapping Tips for the 2019 NCAA Basketball Championship

Handicapping Tips for the 2019 NCAA Basketball Championship

Written by on February 12, 2019

Are you thinking about doing some betting on March Madness this year? We’re only a few weeks away from Selection Sunday and the opening round of the tournament, so it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to fill out your bracket. More than 70 million people fill out brackets each year — with more than $10 billion expected to be on the line in wagers this year. If you’re wondering how to separate your bracket from the rest, there’s no sure path to success (did you pick Maryland-Baltimore County to beat Virginia in the first round last year? Did you have Loyola-Chicago riding Sister Jean’s momentum all the way to the Final Four?), but these tips are definitely a solid place to start and make a better choice to win the 2019 NCAA Basketball Championship.

Handicapping Tips for the 2019 NCAA Basketball Championship

Don’t listen to the point spreads

Tournament games are often tighter than the point spreads because you have mid-majors trying to slay giants — and Power 5 teams that aren’t all that interested in the current matchup because they’re looking past the team right in front of them. Sometimes Duke and Kansas and North Carolina do roll by 40 in the first round, but sometimes they only win by a basket or two — and sometimes they lose. I wouldn’t pick on your brackets on the basis of point spreads; instead, look at the individual matchup before you pick.

Don’t put down a stack of money on a team you haven’t seen

You can read about matchups and learn a lot, but you get the best feel from watching a team. Even if it’s highlights or an older replay, you can get a sense of a team’s chemistry from watching their games. It can be hard to follow all of the Power 5 conferences, but if you start to get a sense that you want to bet heavy on a team to go all the way, you’ll want to watch some of their action to see how they respond to adversity. How do they respond when their shots are not falling? How do their guards play? What is their ball security like? What are they like on the inside? These are questions that you can answer even more effectively when you see the teams play.

Upsets are fun, but don’t make picks for fun

11-seeds and 12-seeds win about a third of the time. However, farther down the bracket, 13- through 16-seeds win about once or twice a season. That’s about 10 percent of the time. So yes, Maryland-Baltimore County took down top-seeded Virginia last year, but that was the first time that had ever happened. Is there a vulnerable 3- or 4-seed? Or even a 2-seed? Think about picking against them, but don’t do it more than once or twice in your entire bracket. You’ll hate what you did when you see that 1- or 2-seed roll all the way to the Final Four, and you don’t get points for any of those wins because you thought that Southwestern Ohio State would knock them out in the first round.

Consider the parlay to boost your winnings

Do you feel super confident about a pair of matchups on a particular day, or in a particular round of the tournament? Then stick both bets onto a parlay. You’ll make a lot more money than you would have made betting on either game — and on both games in separate bets. If you’re going to be right about both contests, you should get to take advantage of the research you did and your intuition about the games. Even if you want to make your wager slightly smaller, you would still come out with more money at the end because of the increased odds.