When, How to Bet on March College Basketball Tournament

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 20: A general view of a 'March Madness' logo is seen during practice before the First Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 20, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

While this question may appear simple on the surface, the answer really depends on the type of bets you place during the popular college basketball season. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular types of bets that are placed during this time, when you can place them, and if the timing will affect the payout.

The different types of bets and when you can place them

College Basketball Bracket Challenges

Many college basketball fans enjoy predicting team placements for the complete season bracket, which is why many sportsbooks also offer a bracket challenge to those that like to put some money on the line.

There are numerous elements that impact the final college basketball bracket. Firstly, there are the teams that are invited to take part in the tournament, but not every team on the list will ultimately make it onto the final bracket. The teams taking part in the final bracket are decided according to a number of criteria, including:

  • If a team won their conference
  • If a team didn’t win a conference but performed well enough to be invited to the tournament by the selection committee
  • If a team won the play-in games that are reserved for the lowest-ranked teams

Who will play against who is affected by seeding, which is decided by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

Once the seeding is complete, teams are placed into the tournament bracket. The tournament bracket is divided into four different regions, with 16 teams per region. To ensure a competitive tournament, the four No. 1 seeds through to the four No. 4 seeds are each placed in different regions of the bracket. This is to ensure the strongest teams don’t all end up in the same region. No changes are made to the bracket once it is finalized.

With an understanding of this process, sports betting fans will analyze their March college basketball season picks for the tournament and place teams into each bracket. Most players will start with the teams that are most likely to win and work their way backward.  

When to place your bet

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 23: Players run across the March Madness logo during the game between the Clemson Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at CenturyLink Center on March 23, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Bets for a bracket challenge must be locked in before the tournament starts. Depending on the sportsbook, this may mean before the play-in games, or only once the first 64 official games have been decided.

March College Basketball Season Futures

In sports betting, a futures bet is a wager where you will not know the outcome for a long time. However, this doesn’t mean that if you place a bet on a game well ahead of tip-off that it is classified as a futures bet. When you place a futures bet, it is necessary to place it well ahead of time since the result takes time to be finalized. For example, placing a bet on the best performing player over a season or tournament is a futures bet. In these scenarios, you only learn who the winner is after the season or tournament has played out first.

For this time of college basketball madness, the most common futures betting options are for the conference champions, the national champions, which teams will be placed as No. 1 seeds, and which teams will reach the Final Four. Some sportsbooks also take bets on who will be recognized as the best player or whether a team will make it into the final game.

When to place your bet

Depending on the sportsbook, you can place bets at different points up until the start of the tournament or even once the tournament has started. However, the longer you wait will affect your payout. For example, some sportsbooks allow players to place their bets long before seeds are even announced, which gives them a chance at a greater payout.

College Basketball Season Live Betting

As long as the game isn’t over, many sports betting platforms will accept a bet on the results of a game or the chances of a specific event taking place during the game, such as a team scoring over 100 points. However, your odds and potential earnings could change depending on when you place your bet during the game. 

Bettors can place a number of different types of live bets, including moneylines, over/unders, and spreads.   

When to place your bet

Has a team fallen behind, but you think they can turn it around? Take advantage of the situation for a better payout and bet on them then. 

Does the winning team have an incredibly big lead over their opponents and are happy walking away with a smaller win? Play it safe and place your bets then. 

When you decide to place your bet really depends on how much risk you like to take, as sportsbooks will generally pay out more if a losing team unexpectedly turns things around and picks up a win. 

College Basketball Tournament Moneyline Bets

Those of you who are new to sports betting may be confused when you first hear the term “moneyline,” but this type of bet simply refers to a bet on whether a team will win or not. 

In order to make moneyline bets work for you, you need to understand whether a team is expected to win (in this case, they will have a minus sign in front of their odds) or if they are the underdogs (in this case, they will have a plus sign in front of their odds). 

For example, let’s say there’s a matchup between the Baylor Bears and VCU Rams. The Bears will have negative odds, while the Rams will have positive odds. In order for you to earn a profit on a bet for the Bears, you will need to make a larger bet on them winning, while a smaller bet is likely to net you a profit if the Rams win.

When to place your bet

If a sportsbook does not accept live bets, you will need to place the bet before a game starts. For live bets, you can keep on placing bets as long as the sportsbook is accepting them.

College Basketball Tournament Over/Under Bets

Overs/unders bets are quite simple to understand, with the sports bettor essentially betting for or against both teams. For every game, a sportsbook will set a combined score for both teams. Gamblers can bet that teams will go over this combined score, or go under this combined score. It doesn’t matter how the points are distributed, only that the teams’ combined score is more or less than the defined value.

When to place your bet

Again, when to place this type of bet is dependent on the sportsbook and whether they offer a live betting service. Regular bets will need to be placed before the game, while live bets will have their own cutoff point that’s defined by the sportsbook.

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 23: NCAA logos on chairs before the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional between the Villanova Wildcats and the West Virginia Mountaineers at TD Garden on March 23, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Wildcats won 71-59. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

March College Basketball Season Spread Bets

Unlike other bets, which are usually dependent on a clear winner, a spread refers to the margin of victory. In spread bets, a heavily-favored team is expected to win, and therefore their points will be weighted negatively. This team’s points must then exceed the other team’s score by the negative weighting in order for it to be considered a winning bet. 

For example, in a game between the Bears and Rams, Baylor might have a spread of -15. This means that the Bears must win by more than 15 points.

On the other hand, the weaker team is given points, and if they lose by less than that value, it is considered a winning bet.

Continuing our previous example, the Rams might have a spread of +15. This means if VCU loses by 15 points or less, it is a winning bet. If the Rams manage to win the game, it is also considered a winning bet. And if Baylor wins by exactly 15, the bettor gets his original wager back, regardless of who she took, in a “push” akin to blackjack.

The spread may change, but you will be locked in at whatever value the spread was when you placed your bet.

When to place your bet

As with moneyline and over/under bets, when you place your bet depends on the sportsbook and whether they run live betting or not, and how much risk you are willing to take.

Where to place your bets

When it comes to betting for the March college basketball season, you’ve learned that different bets have different rules and approaches when it comes to timing. Not only are there sportsbook regulations that affect when you can place your bets, but different timing strategies could yield greater rewards if you’re willing to take on the greater risk.

While these betting tips can help during this annual time of madness, you might also be wondering, “After I’ve assessed my college basketball tournament odds, teams, and picks, where do I actually place my bets?”

BetMGM is an online sports betting platform that can help you get in on the March college basketball tournament excitement quickly and easily. Visit our site to find out more on how you can get started today.

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