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How to Bet the First Round of March Madness

March Madness is the craziest time of the year for college basketball bettors, and the peak of it all is the first two full days of the event on the Thursday and Friday — what was once called the first round and is now called the second round with 68 teams in the field.

Those first two full days of the NCAA Tournament are a true whirlwind, but if you don’t get caught up in the hype, there’s money to be made at the window.

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First Step to March Madness Success

A first step 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 pairings, focus on the No. 5 seed vs No. 12 seed matchups. For whatever reason, around a third of the No. 12 seeds have won their opening games against No. 5 seeds, 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 on the point spread.

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.

Side With Small Favorites at Tourney

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 bets is not an easy task, given that there are 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 as well).