Look around and you’re bound to find any number of “surefire” tips on how to build the perfect March Madness bracket. The truth is, since no one’s ever done that before, no one can really tell you how. Of course, that stops exactly no one from swearing the system they employ will help you build a better March Madness bracket this year. Some of the most common tips you’ll find:
What you won’t see often is that the best advice for picking a better March Madness bracket actually comes from online sportsbooks themselves rather than Jay Bilas or Dick Vitale. And it’s all available for you to use for free.
When you look at March Madness futures and game odds from online sportsbooks, you’ll see who the real favorites are to run deep in the NCAA Tournament. Even better than tournament seeding itself, Vegas odds give a clear picture of each team’s real chances of winning it all and how deep you can expect them to advance.
Why? We’ll explain more below. But it’s the best bracket building advice you’ll likely find. Since most legal online sportsbooks across the US post the same (or similar) odds as they do in Vegas, it’s also easy to find right here in our odds feed below. Use the drop-down menu on the right to change your state, or the menu on the left to flip through various odds boards.
Note: These are up-to-date posted odds at legal online sportsbooks in every betting state. They’re more often than not the same or similar to the Vegas odds, but they are not direct from Vegas.
To actually bet on any March Madness game, click on the odds and you’ll jump to the in-state sportsbook to claim your bonus and open a new account. Otherwise you can just use the NCAA March Madness betting odds below as a guide for your bracket picks.
Vegas odds are quite simply the odds you find posted at Las Vegas sportsbooks. Since Las Vegas has had legal and regulated sports betting since 1949, the odds posted at Vegas sportsbooks are considered the industry standard.
In fact, the odds posted at legal and regulated sportsbooks all over the US will always be pretty close to the Vegas odds. That’s true for everything from March Madness futures odds to individual NCAA Tournament game lines.
Odds do change as bets and new information comes in, and those March Madness odds might change a little bit differently in Vegas than they do at your local sportsbook. That’s because line movement is often independent.
If injuries or other on-the-court factors force oddsmakers to change the odds, all sportsbooks adjust. However, increased betting on one team or another can also force oddsmakers to change the odds. If that happens, only the sportsbook where the betting occurs will change.
March Madness odds, like all sports betting odds, are set to try to draw an equal amount of betting to each team. They draw you in with what looks like fair prices on favorites and long enough odds on underdogs that they all seem worth a shot. If there’s an equal amount of betting across the board, sportsbooks will earn profits off the vig they have factored into the odds, and not really have to sweat the outcome of the tournament.
That’s why they’ll adjust the odds if more money is bet on one team or another. They’re just trying to get back to even again. However, one sportsbook moving a line doesn’t equal all sportsbooks moving that line.
The NCAA Selection Committee picks the at-large teams that get in the NCAA Tournament and seeds the field. They vote on seeding four teams at a time until they have created a 1 through 68 seed list ranking the entire field. Then, they make sure each team is in the proper spot and move on to bracketing.
In bracketing, they base the order the teams are placed in the bracket on that seed list, geography, and specific NCAA bracketing principles and procedures. Bracketing is ultimately done region by region, but the committee also makes an effort to achieve competitive balance in each region by adding up the seed list number for the top four teams in each region and comparing them.
All in all, the committee does a pretty good job of assessing the strength of each team relative to the others in each region. It’s just that Vegas oddsmakers do a better job of it. In setting moneyline, spread, and totals lines for every NCAA Tournament game, alongside futures odds on each team to win it all, Vegas oddsmakers dig a lot deeper into the analytics.
That means more analysis of how traditional power conferences fare against mid-majors, the true offensive and defensive numbers for every tournament team, a closer look at the actual matchups the seeding provides, and a whole lot more.
That’s why if you see an 8-9 matchup in the first round with the #9 seed the actual betting favorite, you might want to defer to your sportsbook over the seeding committee.
In the end, sportsbook odds ultimately give you a more accurate read on the strength of the teams in the tournament. Since a sportsbook’s profits depend on how accurate oddsmakers are, you’re better off building your bracket on the numbers they come up with than straight NCAA seeding – or March Madness punditry – itself.
Like we mentioned earlier, odds change. If you try to build a bracket based on Las Vegas March Madness odds and those odds change, you want to first figure out why.
Odds can change because of injuries, or other on-the-court factors, or because of increased betting on one team or another. If it’s the former, you may need to adjust your bracket and change your picks. If it’s the latter, you might not have to do anything at all.
You can tell if betting has forced the change by looking at the odds from more than one source. One sportsbook moving a line because of betting doesn’t equal all sportsbooks moving that line. If you see the odds haven’t changed across the board, you can rest assured oddsmakers haven’t changed the way they think about the game, and nor should you.
In other words, don’t let somebody else’s bets or public sentiment affect your bracket. If you find that injuries or other on-the-court factors have forced the change, do some research into how the teams involved will be impacted by the situation and adjust your bracket accordingly.
Using March Madness futures odds and first-round game odds to build brackets is a great idea that can give you an edge in March Madness bracket contests. However, if you live in a state with legal and regulated sports betting, March Madness bracket contests aren’t the only way to get in all the NCAA Tournament action.
Legal and regulated online sportsbooks in the US post a variety of different lines for every single NCAA Tournament game. That allows you to bet on March Madness games instead of entering March Madness bracket contests. Or you can do both at the same time.
In fact, there’s no reason not to do both as you can win big in a bracket contest and make a few bucks with a select few game picks along the way, hedge to lock in a profit when you’ve got a shot at winning a contest, or make up for a busted March Madness bracket by betting individual games.
Of course, betting individual game lines has its advantages over March Madness bracket contest entry. The most notable being the fact you don’t have to do a better job of picking 63 game winners than hundreds or often thousands of other people just to win a bet.
Just keep your favorite sports betting apps and your phone handy come tournament time. Then, check the odds whenever the next NCAA Tournament round matchups are set to see if there’s anything worth betting on. Chances are there will be and you can also take a look at how your bracket selections stack up against the oddsmakers’ latest predictions at the same time.
To get started on all this, just register for an account with any legal and regulated sportsbook in your state. Click on our exclusive link to get to the online sportsbook’s website. There, you can register for an account or download and install the sportsbook’s app and register via the app.
Then, claim any free bets or bonus money or deposit money in your account using any one of the available deposit methods. These include everything from credit and debit cards to PayNearMe, PayPal, prepaid cards, online banking, and cash at local casinos.
Finally, you’ll find all the March Madness futures and game odds under any ‘Basketball,’ or ‘NCAA Basketball‘ tab or in the Promotions tab.