March Madness Betting Guide 2021 Odds & Predictions

  • Indianapolis, Indiana hosts the return of March Madness in 2021!
  • Sportsbooks are already publishing their lines and futures, giving bettors an early look into the tournament.
  • Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan lead most sportsbooks as the favorite to win March Madness 2021!

March Madness is returning in 2021! That means sportsbooks and bettors alike are handling massive wagers across a number of states, for the biggest college basketball event of the year! Considering March Madness 2020 was canceled, you can bet everyone’s March Madness betting strategies will be top-notch.

As usual, 68 teams from NCAA Division I men’s basketball will be competing in the prestigious tournament. That means there are a ton of betting opportunities! But what is the best strategy for betting on March Madness?

Whether you’re a sports betting beginner or a seasoned pro, this guide will outline the best betting strategies for March Madness 2021!

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Sports betting is becoming legal in more states as the days and months pass on, but if you live in sports betting legal states like New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois that offer legal sports betting, now is the time for you to cash in!

Make sure, you check out our March Madness Pick ’em Contest to get a chance to win up to $5800!

For people interested in betting on March Madness online, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook, bet365 NJ, or Caesars Sportsbook

Use the links on this page for exclusive deals and promotions and read our comprehensive reviews for more details.

Table of Contents

Having a positive experience betting on March Madness online has a lot to do with the site you choose to sign up with.

If you don’t already have a go-to legal online sportsbook, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook, bet365, or Caesars Sportsbook.

Two big reasons these three sportsbooks are so enticing for new users are the big sign-up bonuses and easy-to-use betting sites and apps. Even as a beginner it’s really easy to sign up and get started picking March Madness winners.

There are however plenty of other sportsbooks available and ready to take on March Madness bets. Check out PointsBet, BetRivers, and many more. We’ve reviewed all major sportsbooks to give you all the details necessary to get started with betting in the US.

DraftKings Sportsbook

It’s still early and all March Madness promotions are on the way. We’ll keep an eye on them for you. In the meanwhile, take advantage of DraftKings’ NCAAB promo:

Bet $1 Win $100 on any college or NBA basketball

• All College and NBA Basketball games starting between 2/14 and 2/28
• First time DraftKings depositors only
• Make a deposit of $5+ into your Sportsbook account
• Following deposit, place a bet of at least $1 on a Money line or Spread for any College or NBA Basketball game that starts between 2/14 and 2/28
• If the team you bet on hits a three-pointer during that game, you’ll be issued a $100 bonus
• Bet must be placed prior to the start of the game
• Bonus paid as four (4) $25 Free Bets
• Free Bets valid for 7 days. Failure to use the Free Bets will void the award
• Free Bet amount is not included in any returns or winnings
• Free Bet also not redeemable for cash, non-transferable, and non-refundable
• One qualifying bet per user
• Excludes live bets, parlays, free bets, cash out bets, and voided bets
Must be in CO, PA, IN, IA, NJ, IL, VA, MI, TN, or WV

How to Bet on March Madness Brackets

The best strategy for betting on March Madness is by filling out a full tournament bracket to compete against friends, family, co-workers, and strangers!

You can also bet make parlay bets, bet on game lines, team futures, as well as player props/futures for the March Madness tournament as they become available! Finding the right March Madness betting site for you will be key!

Timing your bets with available lines is crucial. For example, the opening round is a fantastic way to take advantage of parlays, as the majority of results in the first round go the favorites way.

You may also recognize some notable talents or players that have upped their game for the tournament. Betting on player props is a great way to earn money if you see a player trending toward or away from their projected output.

Most importantly, you should understand how the bracket itself works – it’s simple! There are four regions (East, West, Midwest, South) with sixteen teams representing each region. In total, there are 64 games in this thrilling single-elimination process!

How to Fill Out a March Madness Betting Bracket

Filling out your March Madness Bracket is a lot less daunting than graphics make it look. Each team matches up on their side of the bracket, all you have to do is select which teams you expect to win in each round until you find your ultimate winner!

Start with the first round’s 32 games, then the second round’s 16 games, then move on to the Elite Eight, Final Four, and then the Final.

In the NCAA Tournament Final you will likely be asked to predict the score. This additional prediction is used as a tiebreaker, in the case that multiple correct predictions for a result are made.

Do you need to know a lot about NCAA basketball to fill out a bracket? Absolutely not! The beauty of the NCAA tournament is the one-off nature of each match, making it a true test of quality between each team. While ranking is a good indicator of who will win, underdogs can put on excellent performances to bring home an upset victory!

The tournament format of March Madness is beneficial to experts and beginners alike. With only one game-deciding a team’s fate, anyone can make a great selection!

Has Anyone Predicted a Perfect March Madness Bracket?

According to the NCAA, there has never been a verified event where someone has picked a completely perfect March Madness bracket.

There are many outlets and sports betting sites where you can fill out your March Madness bracket. Many major sportsbooks will have a March Madness bracket challenge, while CBS in partnership with the NCAA has an annual bracket challenge with cash prizes!

According to Sports Illustrated, the odds of attaining a perfect bracket are around one in 9.2 quintillions. In 2019, neuropsychologist Gregg Nigl set the record with 49 correct bracket picks.

Who Will Win the 2021 March Madness?

Unlike major sports leagues like the NBA and the NFL, NCAA college basketball is a much more wide-open league. While there are a number of top teams, the tournament format creates a viable title route for all contenders.

Let’s take a look at some of the teams that we think have the best shot at winning the National Championship!

Baylor Bears (17-0, 9-0 Big 12)

The Baylor Bears play with the mentality of almost reminiscent of fighters rather than basketball players at times. It does wonders for their game, as Baylor’s non-stop, in-your-face style has broken down teams with more prominent individuals than their own.

Their consistency on the defensive side of the ball is their calling card, showing versatility against schools regardless of their game plan. Don’t let that take away from their offense though, they can shoot with the best of them. Four out of Baylor’s eight players that play more than 14 minutes per game hit three’s at a 44% clip.

There isn’t one name that sticks out on the Baylor team, which for them is a good thing. They may not have the star power of rival schools, but each player is bought in and prepared to contribute.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (20-0, 11-0 WCC)

No surprise here, the Gonzaga Bulldogs remain undefeated and find themselves as the number one overall seed. Off the strength of their roster and the weakness of the WCC, Gonzaga regularly find themselves as one of the top-ranked teams in the tournament.

A throwback offensive style, with the propensity to beat you in modern-fashion as well, head coach Mark Few has built one of the most capable scoring units in the nation.

Guards like Jalen Suggs and Andrew Nembhard really help the Bulldogs’ offense flow. However, it is the well-rounded contributions from all players that make the Bulldogs so successful. With so many players to turn to, Gonzaga’s depth on top of quality is what makes them such heavy favorites.

Villanova Wildcats (13-1, 8-2 Big East)

The Villanova Wildcats don’t look to be the threat that they had been in recent seasons. So why are they getting so much love from the sportsbooks? Simply put, it’s really difficult to hold a Jay Wright coached team out of the top contenders.

Villanova gets most of its rating from Wright’s successful run and his ability to bring together a winning team regardless of quality or recruitment. Still a very capable offensive team, the Wildcats’ weakness comes on the defensive side of the ball.

The Wildcats don’t project to have a player get drafted in the lottery of the 2021 NBA Draft. In fact, only one player, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, is expected to be drafted in the first round. In a defensively focused tournament like March Madness, the Wildcats’ chances look slimmer than the sportsbooks are giving them credit for.

Tips for Betting on 2021 March Madness

There are a couple of things to be mindful of in your March Madness betting strategy:

  • Upsets will occur and it’s growing more difficult to predict when.
  • Teams are more competitive and a top seed doesn’t guarantee a deep run into the tournament.

When keeping track of your March Madness betting site and minding your strategy, you should be able to formulate a solid plan. Here are some of our suggestions.

It Doesn’t Always Pay to Pick the Favorite

When it comes to betting on March Madness, it can be very easy to merely select the higher seeded team in every matchup. Granted, you’re likely to come up with decent results with that strategy. But you become vulnerable to your bracket busting early if you can’t see the coming upset.

The one-off matchup style favors teams in-form, rather than those who are boasting a more impressive seeding. When constructing your bracket, be aware of history as much as you are of current form. Only once, in 2008, have all four top seeds made the Final Four!

It’s easy to look for the “Ivy Upset” or the mid-size college with a star piece to get you your win. But pay mind to ranking, order, win streak, and injuries to inform your decision.

Individual Game Betting

All things considered, betting on brackets and March Madness as a whole is a lot of fun. But betting on single games can be just as fun and also beneficial.

Check out our tips on finding good single-game bets:

  • Some of the top stats to mind for a team’s success are field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, and fouls – both incurred and allowed.
  • Late-tournament single-game bets are much safer, considering you’ve had a couple of matches to rate the teams and judge their performance.
  • Don’t be fooled by freshman stardom. College basketball is not star dependent and experienced teams are just as, if not more capable, than those with one-and-done prospects.

Best Team to Bet on in March Madness 2021

With the top sixteen named, sportsbooks have opened up wagering on who will win the tournament as a whole. While these odds will change after conference tournaments, it gives bettors looking to build their strategy a preview of what the public is thinking.

FanDuel is rating Gonzaga (+280), Baylor (+310), and Michigan (+900) as the favorites going into the tournament.

On the other hand, DraftKings gave the nod to Baylor (+290), Gonzaga (+300), and Villanova (+900).

As the bracket fills out and we see different schools and their roadmap to the Final Four, the odds are certain to change.

Aside from filling out brackets, there are plenty of ways to bet on March Madness, with bets that include parlays, futures, and props. In this section, we will break down how these bets work and some tips to help with your strategy.

March Madness Futures

A Futures bet is one that looks at how a team will do at a specific future date. With March Madness this will be a bet in terms of picking the overall champion in the end.

  • These odds will be available once the tournament bracket is announced. Since the entire field is still in play the favorites will pay better now than they will nearer to the end of the tournament if they are still alive.
  • The odds will also be available throughout the tournament and adjusted depending on which teams remain and how well they are performing.
  • Pay close attention to potential upcoming matchups when making a futures bet.

March Madness Moneylines

Picking which team will win the game is always a popular way to bet on NCAA basketball and during March Madness there’s a huge spike in moneyline bets. Here are the main things to understand:

  • During every round of the tournament, you can bet on which teams will win individual games.
  • Moneylines don’t take into account point margins or totals so they’re really simple and great for beginners.
  • Moneylines are great because you can get long odds on underdogs which means a big payday if there’s an upset.

March Madness Totals

You don’t always need to pick a team to win or a side to cover the point spread. Betting on the over/under point total is when a sportsbook estimates how many total points will be scored in a game by both teams combined. Your job is to choose if the final total will be more or less than the sportsbook’s estimate.

March Madness games play out differently than regular-season matchups, which means totals are harder to predict.

  • Do you think the teams will play fast or slow? How do they match up against each other in terms of styles? Have they played each other before?
  • Think about how each coach approaches end-of-game situations as a lot of points can be scored on late-game fouling.
  • Point totals bets are offered for the full game, just half time, or specific to each team. You have a lot of options to consider.

March Madness Parlays

One way to spice up your betting ticket is to combine multiple bets on one or more games into one betting ticket. Betting a parlay multiplies the payout but also makes it way harder to win.

  • On a parlay, you must get every single bet correct in order to win.
  • The more outcomes you add to the wager the longer the odds get and the bigger the potential payout.
  • For March Madness, parlays let you combine lots of bets in different games that are all happening at the same time.

March Madness Props

Proposition bets, also called props, are more creative bets on things like individual player performances. Since there’s so much betting action focused on March Madness, sportsbooks like 888sport NJ and DraftKings NJ have tons of props on the menu.

  • Props are lots of fun and can also be made live as the game is playing out. We’ll go into more detail on live betting in a second.
  • Even if you don’t have a good read on which team will win, you can put action down on specific players or other outcomes.
  • Be careful betting March Madness props because the sportsbooks sometimes err on the side of caution in terms of the odds offered.

March Madness Live Betting

You don’t have to wait for the games to finish before making new bets. In fact, you can get in on the madness while games are in full swing. This is called Live Betting and it is an increasingly popular form of wagering.

  • Live betting odds are constantly adjusting depending on what’s going on in the game.
  • Sites that offer many live bet options are prone to making imbalanced adjustments on the fly if they do not have enough staff available. This is can potentially create juicy opportunities if you have a keen eye.

Betting on 2021 March Madness Bracket Challenges

As of writing, Bracket Challenges are being prepared across a number of sportsbooks! We’re outlining some of the top Bracket Challenges that are sure to come soon!

In 2019 FanDuel awarded $250,000 to players who scored highest in their bracket competition. The top bracket won $100,000! The challenge was free to enter and open to residents in all 50 states.

DraftKings Sportsbook also had an exciting challenge in 2019, with their own free contest that had participants competing for their share of a $64,000 prize pool! If you were playing in New Jersey, you had to opportunity to compete for a separate $100,000 prize pool for a mere $20 entry fee!

Caesars Casino offered one of the most unique prizes for their 2019 March Madness promotion. While only available in New Jersey, players could compete for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes, while also receiving a free $20 bet just for filling out a bracket. First place won a $250 sports bet for each week for an entire year!

March Madness 2021 FAQ

Is March Madness 2021 still on?

March Madness returns in 2021 after it being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When is March Madness 2021?

Selection Sunday will be on March 14th, while the Final Four is scheduled to occur from April 3rd to April 5th.

Where is March Madness 2021?

The entirety of March Madness 2021 will occur in the Indianapolis metro area and central Indiana. Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium are the two main venues for matches through the First Four to the Final Four.

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Christian Jope

Expert on NBA

Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.

Email: [email protected]