I’m excited to utilize this space during March Madness to share my picks with you, but more importantly, to give you insight into my thoughts on betting strategy as the tournament goes on. If you’re looking for my bracket, I have that for you as well.
I’ll be updating this space each day and sometimes multiple times a day. Think of it as my personal journal for March Madness, but you have access to it to tail my picks, gain insight or make fun of me if I lose.
For a nice primer on what’s going on in my brain, check out this article on bankroll management that provides the general principals I’ll be following.
I’ll of course be risking my own bankroll on my picks, but to make this journal more educational and relatable, I’m going to start off with a nice even number of $1,000.
If your starting March Madness bankroll is $100, feel free to divide my bet recommendation by 10 and follow along. If your bankroll size is $5,000, then multiply it by five. Or, feel free to ignore my advice altogether. Either way, I’m here as a resource for you to learn the inner thoughts of a professional handicapper.
UConn’s moneyline win (-330) on Monday night in the national title game added another modest $2.73 to our bankroll. We started this exercise with $1,000 and finished up $33.13 on the plus side, ending with $1,033.13 – a 3.3 percent profit.
|First Four||Texas Southern ML vs Fairleigh Dickinson||-145||$30||Loss||-$30|
|Round of 64||Drake +3.5 vs Miami||-110||$40||Loss||-$40|
|Round of 64||Utah St. (Pick’em) vs Missouri||-110||$20||Loss||-$20|
|Round of 64||Boise St. -2 vs Northwestern||-120||$20||Loss||-$20|
|Round of 64||Furman +5.5 vs Virginia||-110||$20||Win||$18.18|
|Round of 64||Furman ML vs Virginia||+192||$20||Win||$38.40|
|Round of 64||4-Leg Parlay||+1152||$8||Loss||-$8|
|Round of 64||Kennesaw St. +7 (1H) vs Xavier||-110||$12||Win||$10.91|
|Round of 64||Kennesaw St. +12.5 vs Xavier||-110||$12||Win||$10.91|
|Round of 64||Kent St. ML vs Indiana||+180||$15||Loss||-$15|
|Round of 64||Kent St. +5 vs Indiana||-109||$25||Loss||-$25|
|Round of 64||Memphis ML vs Florida Atlantic||-122||$35||Loss||-$35|
|Round of 64||Creighton ML vs NC State||-225||$30||Win||$13.33|
|Round of 32||Duke ML vs Tennessee||-150||$30||Loss||-$30|
|Round of 32||Alabama -8 vs Maryland||-110||$20||Win||$18.18|
|Round of 32||Furman +5.5 vs San Diego State||-107||$20||Loss||-$20|
|Round of 32||Furman ML vs San Diego State||+210||$20||Loss||-$20|
|Round of 32||Arkansas +4 vs Kansas||-120||$20||Win||$16.67|
|Round of 32||Kentucky -2 vs Kansas St.||-120||$22||Loss||-$22|
|Round of 32||Kentucky ML vs Kansas St.||-150||$22||Loss||-$22|
|Round of 32||Michigan St. +3 vs Marquette||-120||$22||Win||$18.33|
|Round of 32||Michigan St. ML vs Marquette||+126||$22||Win||$27.72|
|Round of 32||Pitt +6 vs Xavier||-110||$18||Loss||-$18|
|Round of 32||Gonzaga ML vs TCU||-200||$22||Win||$11|
|Round of 32||Gonzaga ML 1H vs TCU||-170||$22||Loss||-$22|
|Round of 32||UConn vs St. Mary’s U128||-110||$18||Win||$16.36|
|Round of 32||Creighton ML vs Baylor||-105||$33||Win||$31.43|
|Sweet 16||Gonzaga +1 vs UCLA||-110||$40||Win||$36.36|
|Sweet 16||UConn ML vs Arkansas||-184||$45||Win||$24.46|
|Sweet 16||UConn -4 vs Arkansas||-110||$25||Win||$22.73|
|Sweet 16||FAU +5.5 vs Tennessee||-110||$18||Win||$16.36|
|Sweet 16||Michigan St. ML vs Kansas St.||-118||$32||Loss||-$32|
|Sweet 16||Princeton/Creighton O138.5||-110||$18||Win||$16.36|
|Sweet 16||Arkansas 1H +2, Creighton ML, FAU ML|
|Sweet 16||San Diego St. +7.5 vs Alabama||-110||$15||Win||$13.64|
|Sweet 16||Texas ML vs Xavier||-184||$15||Win||$8.15|
|Sweet 16||Texas -4 vs Xavier||-110||$15||Win||$13.64|
|Sweet 16||Texas/Xavier O149||-110||$15||Win||$13.64|
|Elite 8||UConn/Gonzaga O153.5||-110||$22||Loss||-$22|
|Elite 8||UConn ML vs Gonzaga||-135||$25||Win||$18.52|
|Elite 8||FAU ML vs Kansas St.||+118||$25||Win||$29.50|
|Elite 8||Texas ML vs Miami||-175||$18||Loss||-$18|
|Final Four||UConn ML vs Miami||-240||$15||Win||$6.25|
|Final Four||UConn -5.5 vs Miami||-110||$15||Win||$13.64|
|Final Four||FAU ML vs San Diego St.||+118||$15||Loss||-$15|
|Final Four||FAU +3 vs San Diego St.||-110||$3||Win||$2.73|
|Finals||UConn ML vs San Diego St.||-330||$9||Win||$2.73|
2023 March Madness Picks April 4: Recap & Profitable
The bets on this page were 27-20 through March Madness. While our 3.3 percent profit was nothing to write home about, I hope some value was extracted by readers.
One of the purposes of this exercise was to give readers insight into how a professional bettor thinks and conducts business. I’m hopeful there were some nuggets of insight or information along the way that you can use to help you next March or betting on sports in general.
2023 March Madness Picks April 3: Finals
In my last entry in this space, I mentioned how the total went up to 131.5 and I expected it to go up further. Today it’s up to 132.5. I haven’t put a bet in yet on the total, but if the number continues to climb, then there may actually be value on an UNDER bet right before tipoff.
A 134 would cause me to do that, but it getting that high may be wishful thinking at this point. If I take that approach, I’ll post my bet on Twitter and, when/if I make it, I’ll mention how much the wager is for using the bankroll in this link. That’s it for today.
I don’t have any additional bets on the title game. Good luck everyone!
2023 March Madness Picks April 2: UConn To Win It All
The UConn-SDSU line opened at -6 and was quickly bet up to -7.5 where it currently stands. The total moved from 129.5 to 131.5. I wouldn’t be surprised if the total gets bet up even higher because of the public’s tendency to bet OVERs in big games. If you like the OVER, I’d bet it now; if you like the UNDER, I’d wait.
For now, I’m just putting in a moneyline bet on UConn -330 for $9. I’m not getting the best of the number and it should have been obvious to anyone this line would move toward UConn after they embarrassed Miami.
However, I missed the boat last night and I’m paying the price for it with a more expensive wager today.
Monday can’t get here quick enough!
2023 March Madness Picks April 1: Mega Parlay Whale Play!
OK April Fools! I hope you’ve been following along and know that I’m all about responsible gambling and don’t use the phrase Mega Parlay Whale Play!
The +3s for FAU have dried up in the market and we are seeing +2.5 points across the board now. This makes me feel good about our +3 wager and it looks like we might get a little bit of closing line value.
I’m not putting any other bets in pre-flop today, but will be watching the games closely for live betting opportunities.
Good luck everyone!
2023 March Madness Picks March 31: Adding FAU
While the UConn-Miami line movement has stabilized, we have seen some line movement in the last 24 hours in the San Diego State-Florida Atlantic game. Some -3s are popping up in the market and that’s enough for me to make a (very) modest bet on FAU here.
The numbers 2 and 3 are key numbers in college basketball so that half-point move to 3 is bigger than it seems to most.
FAU +3 ($3)
As seen above, I recently sat down with Joe Fortenbaugh to discuss the Final Four games and more.
By the way, I’m just now realizing that these Final Four games are being played on April Fool’s Day. I’ll do my best to make sure those tailing my bets Saturday aren’t looking foolish!
2023 March Madness Picks March 30: Final Four Betting Handle
The market for the Final Four games is remaining fairly stable and I’ve not seen any information that makes me want to add bets for Saturday, so things are pretty much status quo this morning.
At one major sportsbook, San Diego State to cover the spread is getting 55 percent of bets and 51% of the money and the Aztecs moneyline is getting 41% of bets and 54% of the money. The UNDER is getting 43% of bets and 58% of the money, another very small indication that sharp guys might like the UNDER in this one.
UConn to cover is getting 61% of bets and 59% of the money, while the UConn moneyline is getting 54% of the action and 53% of the handle. So far bettors like the OVER in this one to the tune of 69% of bets and 62% of the money.
I recently wrote an article with a short summary of each of the remaining four teams with an emphasis on their BartTorvik ratings since the tournament began. There you will see that UConn is the No. 1 team in the Torvik AND KenPom ratings. I’ve also got you covered with a BartTorvik’s advanced analytics article if you’re unfamiliar with those.
2023 March Madness Picks March 29: Futures To Consider
There’s been no line movement since our last entry on this page yesterday and I’ve not added any additional bets. Today is another wait-and-see approach as the lines should continue to be massaged by the markets.
If you happen to have a futures ticket on any of the remaining Final Four teams, I highly recommend considering hedging. I put together an article as a resource to help you determine if you should hedge and, if so, how much you should hedge.
Currently the following prices are available for futures tickets:
While I’m not betting any of them, I think there’s more value on the UConn and San Diego State tickets than the Miami and Florida Atlantic tickets.
2023 March Madness Picks March 28: Holding Steady
I have no more bets to put in at this time, but I’ll be monitoring lines closely today and throughout the week.
San Diego State opened as a 2-point favorite and the line dipped down to -1.5 and then settled back at -2. The total dipped from 132 to 131.5.
Remember, most of the betting earlier in the week is professionals, and recreational bettors tend to bet more moneylines and point spreads and less totals. This may be an early indication that sharp bettors like the UNDER here.
The UConn-Miami total jumped from 149 to 149.5, potentially signaling that sharp guys like the OVER in that one. The point spread has jumped from -5 to -5.5, though in some places it opened at -5.5 and has stayed there.
I’ll check back in tomorrow and analyze any line movement that may have happened.
2023 March Madness Picks March 27: Final Four Plays
As the Final Four lines have been released, I’m putting in three early bets and will be monitoring them closely.
I’m very happy that this educational exercise is accurately depicting the grind that is professional sports betting. With my March Madness bets in my personal bankroll, I’m also up 2.3 percent. I have my hand in other pots (live betting, NIT Tournament betting, other sports, etc.) so with that volume in mind, at the end of the day, this output so far is satisfactory.
Many recreational bettors would look at a 2.3 percent profit and say “We’re pretty much right back where we started, that was a waste of time.” Professional sports betting is a day-to-day grind and I think we’ve demonstrated that so far.
2023 March Madness Picks March 26: Hook’em
UConn is going to be really, though, to beat in this tournament. I mentioned last week in the conversation above with Joe Fortenbaugh that I was “all-in” on UConn and it’s easy now to see why.
They’re really fun to watch right now. By the way, the next March Madness conversation with Joe drops mid next week, so look forward to that on the Odds Shark YouTube channel or on Twitter @oddsshark.
Today we already have our pending Texas bet in and I’m not seeing anything else I like enough to bet so I’m going to stay with just that one bet.
As a bettor, it’s important not to fall into the scarcity mentality of, “We are running out of games, I have to bet this,” or just betting games out of boredom because it’s the only thing on TV. I recommend only betting games with strong conviction based on solid data from multiple sources.
Good luck everyone!
2023 March Madness Picks March 25: UConn To The Final Four
This morning I put in the following bets with three today and one tomorrow. Best of luck everyone!
I think the UConn-Gonzaga game pits the two best teams in the country against each other and that game will be a lot of fun to watch. Gonzaga’s three best players averaged 37.3 minutes in a grueling contest with UCLA, while UConn’s three best players averaged 26.7 minutes as the Huskies coasted to a win.
In a close game where every edge matters, the freshness of UConn’s starters may make a difference.
2023 March Madness Picks March 24: Live-Betting Tips
Here are a couple quick pieces of advice for live-betting the tournament the rest of the way.
1) Only live-bet during commercials, so you don’t get ripped off.
2) Don’t live-bet out of emotion.
3) Recognize you’re getting worse odds than a traditional bet, so you need to be more accurate to be profitable.
The only pending bet we have is:
Princeton-Creighton OVER 138.5 (-110) $18
I don’t see as much value on today’s games as I did yesterday, but here are the bets I added this morning:
2023 March Madness Picks, March 23: 6 bets For Sweet 16
Below are the six new bets I put in this morning:
UConn has been extremely impressive and blowing opponents out with ease so I’m betting them on the moneyline and the point spread. I think UConn will continue to be lethal from three-point range in this one and I considered betting the OVER but ultimately stayed away.
The Huskies have gotten off to slower starts against inferior teams so I took Arkansas +2 in the first half of a tiny $3 parlay.
I’ve liked FAU all week and was hoping the market might get to +6, but I actually started to see some +5s instead so I grabbed the +5.5 while I could.
The reverse line movement on Michigan State is giving my numbers validation and making me feel even more confident in my handicap.
Good luck everyone!
2023 March Madness Picks, March 22: A Primer For Sweet 16
Today I’ll be taking a long look at Sweet 16 totals and will likely be making recommendations on a couple of games by this time tomorrow. My general inclination is that there will be a lot more OVERs in this round than we saw in the prior two rounds when UNDERs hit about 67 percent of the time.
Be sure to check out my analysis on the UNDERs dominating the early stages of the tournament.
Florida Atlantic is hot, winning its last nine games. I like FAU +5.5 vs an inconsistent Tennessee team, but I’m holding off on betting it with the hope that the number might hit +6. That number opened at FAU +4.5.
2023 March Madness Picks, March 20: UCLA To Fall
Last night, I placed a bet on Gonzaga +1 vs UCLA.
I’m on Gonzaga +1 vs. UCLA— Tony Farmer (@Tonysmarkettips) March 20, 2023
For those following my picks with a $1000 bankroll over at https://t.co/81fPw2BRC4, that’s a $40 wager.
At full strength, UCLA might be the favorite but the Bruins lost Jaylen Clark before the tournament and now David Singleton has an ankle sprain. Preliminary reports are saying Singleton won’t miss time, but ankles are kind of important for a basketball player. Even if he plays, there’s always the risk of re-injury or him not being 100 percent.
But even without the Singleton concerns, I like Gonzaga in this spot. Although UCLA is ranked four spots higher in the Pomeroy Ratings, that is accounting for Jaylen Clark’s contributions and a lot of UCLA’s success in those ratings is front-loaded.
For instance, if the numbers are re-calculated from February 12, February 19 or February 26, Gonzaga is ranked two spots higher according to the Torvik rankings. Since the tournament started, UCLA is ranked higher in these ratings but it’s a smaller sample size and I’m trusting Gonzaga’s offense to get hot at the right time.
Yesterday, OVERs went 6-2. As we said yesterday, bookmakers have a way of making adjustments to make sure they aren’t creating easy targets, and they did what they do best. The public was loaded up on UNDERs yesterday, and I hope we helped a few of you avoid that trap.
2023 March Madness Picks, March 19: UNDERs Cashing
Round of 32 picks for March 19. We are firing on a big Sunday!
One of the biggest storylines of March Madness is that the UNDER has hit in over 70 percent of the games. Regrettably, I didn’t jump on that bandwagon quickly enough. Typically, the public likes to bet games to go OVER, but heading into today’s game, I’m seeing the public heavily on the UNDERs across the board as word about this trend has gotten out.
For instance, at one major sportsbook, the Baylor-Creighton game is seeing 77 percent of bets on the UNDER, 89% of bettors are taking the UNDER in Gonzaga-TCU and 91% of bettors like the Fairleigh Dickinson-FAU UNDER.
Bookmakers are finding themselves in the unusual position of rooting for OVERs now and they’re pretty darn good at making sure they don’t bleed money so I’ll be cautiously monitoring the trend today and only rolling with one UNDER bet.
My numbers aren’t supporting the UNDER train this round and I’d rather miss out on the party than show up to it only to learn the house is on fire.
2023 March Madness Picks, March 18: Paladins Turn To Cinderella
With the Round of 64 in the rear-view mirror, we have our sights set on the Round of 32 and here’s what I’ve cooked up for this weekend, each $20 wagers.
For those of you following my bets posted at @OddsShark , I just put in Wagers on Arkansas +4 (-120), Furman ML (+210), and Furman +5.5 (-107) all for $20 each.— Tony Farmer (@Tonysmarkettips) March 18, 2023
2023 March Madness, March 17: Every Dog Has Its Day
Now, as a handicapper, my checklist of things to do is:
1.) A post-mortem on each game to see why my bets won or lost.
2.) Examining and betting newly released March Madness lines.
3.) Revisiting today’s games for additional bets, with a close eye on line movement to see if value has been created for the market.
1.) I’ll spare you the monotony of the post-mortem in this space, but do realize this is an important part of the handicapping process. Just because you had a winning bet doesn’t mean you handicapped the game well and vice versa.
2.) Of the newly released lines, my favorites were Duke ML (-150) and Alabama -8. I placed wagers on both (see above).
3.) For today, after doing a deeper dive, I like Kennesaw State +7 (1H), Kennesaw State +12.5 (-104), Kent State +5 (-109), Kent State ML (+180) and the Memphis ML (-122). I placed these bets this morning, so if you shop around, you should still be able to get close to these numbers.
2023 March Madness, March 16: Parlay Action
Today, I’m going to add a parlay. Some of you may be thinking, wait a second, this guy tells us all the time to limit parlays, as I said yesterday in the interview with Joe Fortenbaugh seen above. But it’s a modest $8 bet and there’s some correlation involved.
In other words, if one leg wins, something else (in my opinion) is more likely to happen. I’ll explain further below...
Utah State ML, Utah State-Missouri OVER 145.5, Illinois +2, UNDER 145 (+1152)
$8 on this bet will win $92.19
The reason that I believe a Utah State win is correlated to the OVER is because they’re so dependent on the three-pointer and I think they will need to hit those shots to win. Likewise, if they come out cold shooting, then they’re more likely to lose and the UNDER is more likely to hit.
Similarly, Illinois is a slow-paced team so if they are competitive, it’s more likely because they were able to slow the game down and play the game at their desired tempo. I think that Arkansas-Illinois game is really a coin flip, so I like getting the +2 with Illinois.
I also like that these games are happening at two different times, so it gives me an opportunity to live-bet and potentially create a middle in-game. For instance, if both Utah State bets hit and Illinois jumps out to a massive lead early but the UNDER is in question, I could put a modest hedge on the OVER in-game (if the game flow indicates that will continue) and maybe create a middle.
For instance, maybe I can get OVER 137 in-game and then the score lands between 137 and 145 and both bets hit. We are getting way ahead of ourselves, but these are the kinds of potential scenarios I’m thinking about when I put in a bet like this.
2023 March Madness Best Bets Pre-Tournament -- March 16
As soon as lines were released, I immediately placed three bets. Using my own power rankings, I had a grade on each team and I was ready to pounce quickly if a line seemed funny to me.
Betting numbers as soon as they’re released is a good habit to get into and a major difference between professionals and recreational bettors who bet closer to tipoff once the line has been molded.
I placed the following wagers and announced them on Twitter, and it looks like I’ll get good closing line value (CLV) on two of the three bets.
Our pro handicapper @Tonysmarkettips just bet Utah State ML (-110) in Round 1 after seeing the game open as a pick ‘em.— Prediction Machine (@PM_BestBets) March 12, 2023
He is expecting Utah State to be a 1-2 point favorite by tip off.
The Drake line now sits at +2 and +2.5 and I still like that number. Utah State is -1 and -1.5 in most places or you can get the moneyline for -120. Of those two bets, I have more conviction in Drake. I bet Boise State at -2 and whiffed on reading the market. I should have waited – I could now get Boise State +1.5. The picks are listed above in order of my conviction on them.
I risked four percent of my bankroll on Drake and two percent of my bankroll on the other two wagers.
This morning, I bet the Texas Southern ML (-145) for 3%, and Furman ML (+192) and Furman +5.5 for 2% each. All of these numbers are still available to you at the time I’m writing this.
What are the best March Madness Bets?
There are plenty of ways that you can wager on March Madness. You can make a futures bet in which you choose which team is going to win a specific region (East, West, Midwest or South) or you can even place a bet on which team will win the national championship.
If you’re not into betting on an overall winner, then you can place bets on specific games like I do. There are three main options for good March Madness bets: the spread, moneyline and total. Perhaps the most popular is the point spread in which a team must win by a certain number of points provided by the sportsbook to cover the spread.
Best March Madness Bets: Point Spread
For example, Gonzaga could be a 23-point favorite (or -23), which means not only do the Bulldogs have to win but they must win by 24 points or more to cover. Gonzaga’s opponent would be a 23-point underdog (or +23) and could cover its point spread by winning outright or losing by fewer than 23 points.
Best March Madness Bets: Moneyline
If choosing whether a team will win by a given number of points is too difficult, no problem. With a March Madness moneyline bet, you are simply choosing which team will win the game.
There will be a favorite, indicated by a minus (-) sign, and an underdog, which will have a plus (+) sign. This type of bet is simple – just pick the team you think will win the game. Betting on an underdog will provide a better payout but is riskier since that team is not expected to win.
Best March Madness Bets: Totals
If you’ve been watching college basketball all season and feel like you know which teams are dynamic offensive squads and which ones are incredibly smothering defensive teams, then totals bets might be right up your alley.
This March Madness bet is choosing whether the final combined score of the two teams will go OVER or UNDER a given total provided by the sportsbook. If the total was set at 149.5 points for a Gonzaga-Georgia State contest, for instance, and the Bulldogs won 83-59, the UNDER would hit.
Making your Best March Madness Bet
The foremost advice that can be given when searching out your March Madness best bets is to do plenty of research rather than blindly wagering on a team because you like their logo. There are also picks services that can assist you with March Madness predictions, or you can dive into the numbers yourself.
March Madness Best Bets: Stats & Trends to focus on
There is no official right or wrong way to handicap a game for a perfect March Madness prediction. Some people look at recent betting trends while others use historical betting odds to help pick winners.
For me, I find trends are a good starting point that could give you a direction in looking into the game. Then you can consider head-to-head matchups if they’re available from places such as our database or team reports that can show you team statistics in various categories and where they rank within the nation.
There is so much sports data now that you can go in plenty of different directions. I recommend keeping a betting journal to track your success and what methods you used to make your March Madness best bets so that you can repeat your process or tweak it depending on how things are going. Most of all, have fun and bet only what you can afford to lose!
March Madness Best Bets FAQ
Who is the favorite to win March Madness?
The favorite to win 2023 March Madness is Houston. The Cougars are listed at +450 on the oddsboard to win the NCAA Tournament. They are followed by the Alabama Crimson Tide, UCLA Bruins and Purdue Boilermakers to round out the top four teams in the odds to win the national championship.
How do I make bets on the college basketball tournament now that my March Madness bracket exploded?
We’ve come up with a comprehensive NCAA Tournament betting guide that shows you how to bet on March Madness even after your bracket has exploded. College basketball bettors will learn how to read college basketball odds, the type of wagers they can make on the tournament, and how to make those NCAAB bets.
Where can I bet on March Madness games?
If you want to know where you can bet on March Madness games, you’ll want to look over our list of the best sportsbooks for betting on March Madness. Every March Madness betting site has odds on each and every game. These really are the best places to bet on March Madness matchups.