Here are 10 key NCAA basketball betting tips to help you make some money on this year’s March Madness tournament:
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.
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 Proline picks or sportsbook picks.
Smaller schools in mid-major conferences are more than capable of beating the big boys in NCAA basketball, particularly in recent years.
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 a quick bet on the night games.
Pick which games you like before the game begins, buy your Proline ticket or make your sportsbook bets, and then just sit back and enjoy the action.
6. Consult a map
March Madness NCAA tournament games are technically played on neutral courts, but these neutral courts can often be quite close to some school campuses.
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 NCAA basketball, 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 had 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 for Proline NCAA basketball betting, since Proline odds are the same no matter where you buy your ticket.
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 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 the March Madness NCAA tournament.
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.
If you’re uncertain about which online sportsbooks are safe to use, check out our recommended sportsbook reviews.
9. Consult the experts
For almost all of us working stiffs, there isn’t enough time in the day to learn about every team in the NCAA tournament field.
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 at March Madness time.
And, thanks to the age we live in, their information and advice is available for free, 24/7, on Twitter.
Consult our list of 7 Twitter accounts to follow during March Madness if you want to tap into some of the sharpest NCAA basketball betting minds out there.
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 five of the past 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 Men’s NCAA tournament seeding facts for more trends and information about all seeds.