We called this article ’10 Tips For Making Your March Madness Picks’, but we’re really going to give you 11.
The first and biggest one is to bet your March Madness picks at online sportsbooks instead of Proline or other provincial lotteries.
Using sportsbooks is not illegal in Canada and they allow you to bet on one game at a time, rather than having to bet multiple games on one Proline, Mise-O-Jeu, Sport Select, Proline Stadium or PlayNow ticket.
You’ll also almost always get better March Madness odds with sportsbooks instead of provincial lotteries, especially in Ontario.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are 10 other important NCAA basketball betting tips to help you make some money on your March Madness picks this year:
1. Learn from the conference tournaments
The conference tournaments can be a preview of what to expect in the NCAA tournament, since there are several parallels between the two competitions.
Like the NCAA tournament, conference tournament games are played on neutral floors, so you get a chance to see how teams perform when there is no home-floor advantage.
And like the NCAA tournament, conference tournaments are single-elimination, giving you the opportunity to see how teams perform under the pressure of win or go home.
2. Don’t over-react to conference tournament results
Like we just said, there are things that can be learned by how a team performs at the season-ending conference tournaments.
Just be sure to take some of those results with a grain of salt, since teams often have different agendas at those tournaments.
Squads on the bubble give maximum effort at those tournaments, knowing they need to show well in order to get invited to the NCAA tournament.
Teams who have already locked up high seeds are more concerned about tweaking a couple things and staying healthy, since they don’t have much to gain. So just because Maryland beat Duke in the ACC tournament doesn’t mean the Blue Devils aren’t going to go far in the NCAA tournament.
3. Pay attention to the point spreads
Oddsmakers sometimes tip their hand to who they think is going to win a game with the point spread they release.
Occasionally in the NCAA tournament, you see a lower seed favoured over a higher seed. Or you might see a No. 11 seed only catching 3 points against a No. 5 seed, a much lower point spread than you would expect in that seeding matchup.
Oddsmakers aren’t likely to shade point spreads towards lower seeds, since the betting public generally likes to bet the bigger name teams and higher seeds anyway.
So if you see a line that doesn’t seem to be what it should, it’s probably telling you something you can use in your March Madness picks.
4. Don’t just blindly pick the big-name schools
Everyone knows schools like North Carolina, Duke, Michigan State and Kansas are basketball powers every year. More people know about Indiana, Syracuse and Florida than they do about Virginia Commonwealth, New Mexico and Butler.
But don’t let that bias your judgement when filling out your bracket or making your March Madness picks.
Smaller schools in mid-major conferences are more than capable of beating the big boys in NCAA basketball, particularly in recent years. There are tons of Cinderella stories that capture our imagination each March.
Butler reached the national final in consecutive seasons, VCU made that memorable run in 2011 and we’ve also seen big upsets by schools like Ohio, George Mason, Norfolk State, Northern Iowa and others since the turn of the century.
5. Pick your spots
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament, with 16 games on Thursday and Friday.
There are often several games on at once, and as soon as one ends, another begins. Just make sure not to get carried away by all the action.
If you lose a bet in the final seconds, don’t just angrily bet more on the next game to try and get it back. And if you’re enjoying a good start to the day, don’t just throw it away with some quick bets on the night games.
Make your March Madness picks before the games begin, buy your Proline ticket or make your sportsbook bets, and then just sit back and enjoy the action.
6. Consult a map
Once the bracket is released, you can see the locations for all the games and get a sense for which schools are playing close to home.
If Michigan State or Ohio State are playing games in Detroit, you can expect them to enjoy much greater fan support than if they are playing games in Oklahoma City.
With emotion being such a big part of the NCAA tournament, extra fan support can sometimes be the difference in helping teams advance to the next round.
7. Break down the matchups
Certain teams just match up very well against some teams, and very poorly against others.
For example, Wisconsin recently defeated Indiana 12 straight times. It’s pretty obvious that the Hoosiers weren’t comfortable playing that grind-it-out style Wisconsin is known for.
Or perhaps a team really struggles with turnovers. That would spell disaster against a tenacious pressing team like Louisville.
If a team can’t rebound very well, that would be bad news against teams who were among the league leaders in rebounding.
8. Get the best line
This point isn’t really relevant if you make your March Madness picks on Proline, since you are limited to the odds at the provincial sports lottery where you live.
But for online sportsbook betting, point spreads and totals are often different at different sportsbooks.
Ohio State might be a 1-point favourite at Pinnacle Sports, but Sports Interaction – a recreational book which sometimes inflates lines on favourites – may have the Buckeyes as a 3-point favourite. If Ohio State wins the game by 2, you’d win at Pinnacle Sports and you’d lose at Sports Interaction.
The point spreads won’t often differ by a couple points, but even a half-point discrepancy can make the difference between a win and a push or a push and a loss.
The NCAA tournament betting lines are incredibly tight at this time of year, since oddsmakers have to be on top of their game for the millions of dollars that will be bet on March Madness picks.
Many times, the game will be decided within a point or two of the spread or total, so make sure you give yourself the best number. The only way to do this is to have accounts at several different sportsbooks you can trust with your money.
9. Consult the experts
Fortunately, there are NCAA basketball junkies out there who have followed all the conferences since the opening tip of the season and can be a valuable resource when it’s time to make your March Madness picks.
And, thanks to the age we live in, a lot of their information and advice is available for free, 24/7, on Twitter.
10. Trust the No. 1 seeds
Seeds aren’t everything, as we explained earlier in this article, but you don’t earn a No. 1 seed for no reason.
As you might expect, No. 1 seeds have a history of performing very, very well at March Madness time. In fact, a No. 1 seed had won the NCAA tournament in five of six years going into the 2013 tourney.
Only three times in NCAA tournament history have there been no No. 1 seeds in the Final Four.
And a No. 1 seed has never — that’s right, never — lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Check out our March Madness betting trends article for more information about how seeds have fared over the years..