March Madness Betting: Tips and Advice


March is one of the best months on the sports calendar, and it is largely because of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual basketball tournaments. The NCAA runs the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that provide great entertainment.

Many people will make March Madness picks in hopes of winning their family, friends, or office bracket competitions. There will be 68 teams who make the tournament, and the champion will be crowned three weeks later.

That creates a quick period for games to be played across weekends and is a big revenue boost for the host cities. Furthermore, there are opportunities to watch basketball throughout the work day early on in the tournament, too, leading to some of the most unproductive times.

Here is a look at some of the best ways to sort out brackets and bet on March Madness.


One of the most difficult parts about betting on March Madness is picking a winner in advance of the field being set or once the draw is revealed. But there are several data points that have developed into reliable trends for fans to follow.

The Ken Pomery efficiency rankings have accurately predicted 19 of the last 20 national champions. That team was top 25 in defensive efficiency and top 40 in offensive efficiency. This year’s teams who hold that distinguished ranking from KenPom are the Houston Cougars (third offensive, seventh defensive), Kansas Jayhawks (21st, ninth), Alabama Crimson Tide (19th, fifth), UCLA Bruins (22nd, second), Purdue Boilermakers (11th, 20th), Texas Longhorns (18th, 25th), UConn Huskies (eighth, 22nd), Creighton Bluejays (29th, 12th) and the Saint Mary’s Gaels (38th, eighth).

There is an additional data set, too. Teams ranked in the top 12 of the Associated Press poll in the sixth week of the season have produced every national champion since 2004. The rankings that week from first to 12th were Purdue, the Virginia Cavaliers, UConn, Alabama, Houston, the Tennessee Volunteers, Texas, Kansas, the Arizona Wildcats, the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Baylor Bears, and the Duke Blue Devils.

There are reasons to believe in various teams, but Arkansas has had some injury issues, Virginia and Duke have both fallen off their early marks (though Duke is rallying), Purdue has hit a late slump, and Texas went through a coaching change.

Picking Games

There are a variety of different ways that people fill out brackets. Some like to pick based on mascots, others colors, and a lot of fans will analyze the data. But the winner of those bracket pools will sometimes be surprising based on how the entrants were selected.

The aforementioned KenPom rankings and the NET rankings are valuable tools to determine how good a team is. Some of the data to consider are a team’s offensive and defensive ratings, their strength of record (record of teams they beat), the strength of schedule, Quad 1 and Quad 2 records, and more.

This data is largely aimed at how solid they are on either end of the floor, regardless of whether they play at a slower or faster pace. The rest takes a look at the difficulty of the teams they beat, and particularly how tough of a schedule they played based on the quad records.

The hard part about looking at possible Cinderella teams is that they may not have many games in the first quadrant. But past history with the coach or even particular players – Oral Roberts and Max Abmas are two seasons removed from a Sweet Sixteen trip and are 30-4 and clinched an automatic berth for the 2023 tournament.

Picking against the spread is one of the most difficult things to do. Sometimes it is a total crapshoot. One theory to keep in mind is how casinos make their money, and it is no different for sportsbooks, and that is usually by winning bets against the majority of the public.

Take the public betting data to see where the majority lies and then evaluate if the opposite is a good pick based on one’s research.

Popular Picks

Data suggests that a 12 seed beating a 5 seed is the most popular upset in the tournament, and it happens frequently. The same can be said for an 11 versus a 6, and less popular is a 13 versus a 4. Perhaps Cinderella’s slipper fits a team in those fields.


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