How to Bet the First Round of March Madness
March Madness is the craziest time of the year for college basketball fans and bettors alike, and the peak of it of all is the first round (now officially called the second round after the decision to include 68 teams).
Those first two days are a whirlwhind, but if don’t get caught up in the hype, there’s money to be made at the window.
A first stop is to handicap teams’ road and neutral site records both SU and ATS. A school can be a monster on the season, but if they racked up most of their success because of their dominance at home, they could be overvalued in the NCAA Tournament.
Of the different pairings in the opening round, focus on the No. 5 seed vs. No. 12 seed matchups. For whatever reason, 33% of No. 12 seeds have won their opening round game against a No. 5 seed, making them good bets ATS at the same time. Usually, at least one No. 12 will win outright, and these schools often have up to 10 points with which to work against the number.
Lower seeds at No. 10, No. 11, No. 12, and even at No. 13 can be solid wagers ATS as underdogs, especially if they’re champions from mid-major conferences going up against a non-champion from one of the power conferences. These schools are champs for a reason, and the gap between the conferences is smaller than ever, especially in a one-game, winner-take-all format on a neutral site.
Generally speaking, side with small favorites, especially if they’re the lower seed. As well, make sure to handicap conference strength, and don’t discount the power of momentum. Teams playing well heading into the Big Dance are likely to keep it going, while schools limping in are primed to fizzle out early.
Winning more March Madness opening round wagers is not an easy task, given so many games in such a short period of time. And it takes college basketball handicapping savvy to know how to manage your bankroll (while you win your bracket game).