Sports Betting 101: How To Bet On March Madness

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March Madness betting is here! The first four games are already playing out and the NCAA Tournament’s first-round games tip off Thursday, March 21.

The 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is sure to be a special one across the country. That’s because you can now legally bet on these basketball games in eight different states, if you include New Mexico, where the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel tribal casino launched the state’s only sportsbook in October 2018.

The other states with sportsbooks now taking bets on March Madness action include:

Online and mobile sports betting is just getting started in some states, but it’s already dominating the New Jersey sports betting market. Plus, it makes up about half the action in Nevada. That means you can park yourself in front of the TV to watch the games and bet on March Madness from the privacy of your own home.

Fortunately, legal sportsbooks across the US have simplified the betting process and eased off the use of complicated sports betting language to make it easier than ever to bet on March Madness games.

Put simply, if you can make March Madness picks (even on mascots) and click buttons you can bet on the NCAA Tournament this year. Download this printable March Madness bracket to get started. Click the arrow to download the PDF.

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March Madness betting basics

The following is a guide to understanding the basic March Madness bets available at most legal sportsbooks in the US to help you along the way:

Legal US sportsbooks all offer a variety of ways the public can bet on March Madness games and the entire tournament, including:

  • Brackets – Players fill out a full 63-game March Madness bracket sheet and enter it in a pool. There a wide variety of free NCAA brackets contest online, including some offered by legal US sportsbooks.
  • Futures – A bet on a single team to win the National Championship this year. Legal US sportsbooks will accept NCAA futures bets before the tournament starts and throughout, with adjusted odds on teams that are still in contention.
  • Moneylines – A single-game bet put down on a team to win the game outright and booked based on odds set by sportsbooks.
  • Spreads – A single-game bet put down on a team to win with a point spread line set by oddsmakers factored into the final score.
  • Totals – A single-game bet put down on whether the final score will land over or under a line set by sportsbooks.
  • Parlays – A combination of two or more basic single-game bets. Parlays pay better than individual single-game bets, because every bet, or leg, must win for the parlay to pay.

Free NCAA March Madness bracket contests

Two New Jersey sportsbooks apps are offering free NCAA bracket contests open to anyone in the US. However, players must fill out and enter a bracket prior to the start of the first-round games Thursday.

Bracket Madness on FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel Sportsbook is offering up a free-to-enter Bracket Madness contest with an outstanding $250,000 in guaranteed payouts.

The best bracket in the pool will win a $100,000 first prize. Second-place earns $50,000 and third $25,000. Additionally, the top 1,000 finishers will win various cash prizes.

DraftKings Brackets

DraftKings Sportsbook launched its own DraftKings Brackets product ahead of the tournament this year. This feature allows users to enter public and create private March Madness bracket contests.

Plus, there’s one free-to-play bracket contest offering $64,000 in prizes. This pool will pay out the top 6,475 places with a $5,000 first-place prize.

Of course, both NJ sportsbook apps are also accepting a variety of single-game March Madness bets from anyone inside the state, resident or otherwise.

March Madness moneylines

The moneyline odds for the first round of March Madness games are already available at most legal sports books. If you can pick a side, you can place a moneyline bet. All that is required is accepting the odds on that side posted by the sportsbook. That means, if you can, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best moneyline price.

Here’s how moneyline bets work:

For example, (11) Saint Mary’s is taking on defending NCAA Tournament champs (6) Villanova in an intriguing first-round matchup. FanDuel Sportsbook has it Saint Mary’s +170. That means a $100 bet on Saint Mary’s to beat the champs outright would pay $170 plus your $100 bet back if they get it done.

FanDuel Sportsbook also has it Villanova -200. That means you’re going to need to bet $200 to win $100 plus your bet back on the Wildcats.

The line is the same at Caesars Casino & Sports and on BetStars NJ. However, that won’t always be the case for every game. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to look around to see if you can find a better one.

March Madness spreads

Betting with spreads is almost as easy.

For example, PointsBet has Villanova favored over Saint Mary’s by 4.5 points. That means Villanova must win by 5 or more points to cover, and point spread bets on Villanova will only pay if they cover. Of course, it also means point spread bets on St. Mary’s will pay even if they lose, just as long as they lose by 4 points or less.

PointsBet books spread bets at a price of -105 on either team. The prices on point spread bets work the same way that moneylines do.

SugarHouse Sportsbook also has Villanova favored over Saint Mary’s by 4.5 points. However, the prices are different. Point spread bets on Saint Mary’s at SugarHouse come at a price of -109, and it’s –112 on Villanova. Over on 888 Sport, it’s the same 4.5 point spread, but it’s Saint Mary’s at -113, and Villanova at -115.

This highlights the need to shop around for point spread prices as well. Plus, you may even find one sportsbook with a different and more attractive line.

March Madness odds — who will win it all?

Even if filling out an entire 63-game bracket or line shopping on single-game bets isn’t for you, there is one way you can bet on the NCAA Tournament this year. March Madness futures allow you to simply pick the team you think will win it all and put your money where your mouth is.

So who will win March Madness? Legal US sportsbooks will adjust the odds on the teams that are still in contention as the tournament progresses. However, in advance of the tournament tip-off, here’s a look at the NCAA futures odds at the top three sportsbook apps in NJ, followed by the 2019 March Madness schedule:

NCAA Tournament East Region futures

2019 NCAA Tournament ChampionsDraftKings SportsBookFanDuel Sportsbook BetStars NJ
No. 1 Duke+225 +220+200
No. 2 Michigan State+1700+1400+1600
No 3. LSU+5000+4000+6600
No. 4 Virginia Tech+3000+4900+6000
No. 5 Mississippi State+10000+12000+12000
No. 6 Maryland+15000+16000+10000
No. 7 Louisville+8000+10000+6600
No. 8 VCU+20000+19000+35000
No. 9 Washington+25000+19000+20000
No. 10 Minnesota+30000+19000+30000
No. 11 Belmont/Temple+35000/+50000+16000/25000+25000/+50000
No. 12 Liberty+35000+25000+100000
No. 13 St. Louis+50000+25000+75000
No. 14 Yale+50000+25000+100000
No. 15 Bradley+50000+25000+200000
No. 16 North Carolina Central/ North Dakota State

NCAA Tournament West Region futures

2019 NCAA Tournament ChampionsDraftKings SportsBookFanDuel Sportsbook BetStars NJ
No. 1 Gonzaga
+575 +600+600
No. 2 Michigan+2000+2200+1600
No. 3 Texas Tech+3000+3300+2200
No. 4 Florida State+4000+6500+3300
No. 5 Marquette+8000+10000+6600
No. 6 Buffalo+10000+10000+10000
No. 7 Nevada+6000+7000+8000
No. 8 Syracuse+15000+16000+8000
No. 9 Baylor+50000+19000+35000
No. 10 Florida+20000+18000+15000
No. 11 Arizona State/St. John’s+30000/35000+25000/25000+35000/35000
No. 12 Murray State+25000+20000+20000
No. 13 Vermont+50000+25000+100000
No. 14 Northern Kentucky+50000+50000+50000
No. 15 Montana+50000+50000+100000
No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights/Prairie ViewOTB/+100000OTB/+100000OTB/+250000

NCAA Tournament South Region futures

2019 NCAA Tournament ChampionsDraftKings SportsBookFanDuel Sportsbook BetStars NJ
No. 1 Virginia+700 +700 +750
No. 2 Tennessee
No 3. Purdue+3300+3500+3300
No. 4 Kansas State
No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 6 Villanova
No. 7 Cincinnati+10000+10000+8000
No. 8 Mississippi
No. 9 Oklahoma+20000+18000+30000
No. 10 Iowa+20000+19000+15000
No. 11 St. Mary’s+25000+19000+35000
No. 12 Oregon+25000+13000+15000
No. 13 UC Irvine+35000+25000+100000
No. 14 Old Dominion+50000+25000+50000
No. 15 Colgate
No. 16 Gardner-Webb

NCAA Tournament Midwest Region futures

2019 NCAA Tournament ChampionsDraftKings SportsBookFanDuel Sportsbook BetStars NJ
No. 1 North Carolina+750 +950+750
No. 2 Kentucky+1300+1700+1200
No 3. Houston+4000+4800+4000
No. 4 Kansas+6000+6000+5000
No. 5 Auburn+4500+4000+4000
No. 6 Iowa State+5000+4200+3300
No. 7 Wofford+10000+10000+12500
No. 8 Utah State+15000+16000+50000
No. 9 Washington+25000+19000+20000
No. 10 Seton HallOTBOTBOTB
No. 11 Ohio State+25000+19000+35000
No. 12 New Mexico State+25000+24000+25000
No. 13 Northeastern+35000+50000+100000
No. 14 Georgia State+50000+25000+50000
No. 15 Abilene Christian+100000+100000+250000
No. 16 Iona+75000+70000+100000

2019 March Madness schedule

Selection SundayN/AMarch 17
First FourDayton, OhioMarch 19-20
1st/2nd RoundsHartford, Conn.March 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsSalt Lake City, UtahMarch 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsDes Moines, Iowa March 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsJacksonville, Fla.March 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsTulsa, Okla.March 22-24
1st/2nd RoundsColumbus, OhioMarch 22-24
1st/2nd RoundsColumbia, S.C.March 22-24
1st/2nd RoundsSan Jose, Calif.March 22-24
South RegionalLouisville, Ky.March 28-30
West RegionalAnaheim, Calif.March 28-30
East RegionalWashington, D.C.March 29-31
Midwest RegionalKansas City, Mo.March 29-31
Final FourMinneapolis, Minn.April 6
National ChampionshipMinneapolis, Minn.April 8


Martin Derbyshire


Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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