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How to Bet on March Madness 2023: The Ultimate Guide

The NCAA Tournament, better known as “March Madness,” isn't just one of the most exhilarating athletic competitions of the year, it's a downright phenomenon for sports bettors, with just about every office, friend group, and extended family in the US competing in their own March Madness pools. Below, Dimers provides amateur and seasoned sports bettors all the insights they need to dominate March Madness in 2023, then collect the profits (and glory) that follows.
profileMac Douglass
Updated Mar 14, 2023
Fact checked
Mac Douglass
Updated Mar 14, 2023
Fact checked

The Best Sportsbooks for March Madness Betting


Understanding the Basics of March Madness Betting

March Madness betting can essentially be divided into two categories: 1) March Madness brackets, which are used for pools; 2) standard March Madness betting, with which college basketball fans can wager on any given matchup via moneylines, spreads, over/unders, futures, and player and team probs, just like they would for any other game throughout the NCAAB season. Happily, there's a tremendous amount of overlap between these two categories, given that the tools Dimers provides to construct the best possible March Madness brackets can also be employed to find the best bets for any and every NCAA Tournament matchup. Those tools include identifying potential upsets, informative college basketball trends, optimal betting edge based on sportsbook odds, and much more.

Different Types of March Madness Bets and Popular March Madness Betting Markets

Given the breadth of options available to March Madness bettors, we've outlined the standard forms of March Madness betting, beginning with brackets, which are both the most popular form of wagering on the NCAA Tournament, and the most unique to March Madness.

  1. Brackets: Brackets are the bread and butter of March Madness; however, they're also an unusual form of wagering, as it's much more common for families, friends, and coworkers to compete against one another in March Madness pools than for individual bettors to use standard sportsbooks for betting on brackets. The NCAA Tournament consists of seven single-elimination rounds, with a total of 68 teams competing. In the first round, called “The First Four,” eight teams compete in four games, with the winners earning the final four spots in the March Madness field. With 64 teams remaining, the tournament takes on a standard, six-round, single-elimination format, with the last undefeated team earning the title of NCAA Champion. Filling out a bracket is simple: once the field has been reduced to 64, you simply pick the winner for each game. Every team is seeded between 1-16, with the lower seed in every matchup representing the favorite, and the higher seed the underdog. Because each team is assigned a seed between 1 and 16, meaning there are four #1 seeds, four #2 seeds, four #3 seeds, etc., it's possible that two teams with the same seed will meet in the Final Four or NCAA Tournament Final.
  2. Moneyline: A moneyline bet is a simple bet on which team will win a game. Odds are assigned to each team, and you bet on which team you think will win the game outright, with payouts varying based on the odds. Moneyline wagers can be placed on any NCAA Tournament matchup.
  3. Point Spread: With point spreads, bettors are still wagering on the outcome of a game, but with a focus on margin of victory, as opposed to merely picking the winner. Before a game, oddsmakers set a “spread,” which indicates how many points the favorite is expected to win by. For example, if Duke is favored to beat UNC by 3.5 points, the spread will read “Duke (-3.5),” or “UNC (+3.5).” A bet on Duke will only be successful if Duke wins by four or more points, whereas a bet on UNC could succeed even if UNC loses, provided that loss is by three points or less.
  4. Over/Under: Over/Unders, occasionally referred to as “Totals betting,” are wagers on whether the total quantity of points scored in a game will be more or less than a preset total offered by a sportsbook. For example, DraftKings' over/under for a given March Madness game might be set at 135.5. Anyone who fills out a March Madness bracket will be required to predict the total number of points scored in the NCAA Tournament Final, as a tiebreaker. The totals assigned to over/under wagers by sportsbooks tend to be very accurate, so even if you don't plan to lay any over/under wagers, it's still prudent to review the over/under totals set by sportsbooks for top college basketball matchups, to provide a leg for your March Madness bracket.
  5. Futures: A March Madness futures bet involves betting on the outcome of the tournament before it takes place. Typically, futures bets pertain specifically to selecting the winner of a given tournament; however, March Madness futures can be a bit more wide-ranging, with wagers on which teams will make the Final Four representing another popular option.
  6. Prop Bets: Prop bets are bets on events that may or may not happen during a game or tournament, and are not tied to the outcome of the game in which they occur. Both player and team props are popular betting options, with common players props for March Madness including over/unders on the total number of points, rebounds, assists, etc., recorded by a specific player in a game, and common team props including the total number of points scored or allowed by a specific team in a game.

Developing the optimal March Madness betting strategy is heavily predicated on two factors: doing your research, and determining your risk tolerance.

Research: As with all betting, research plays heavily into March Madness; however, the strategy here is a bit different, given that the sheer quantity of teams competing in the NCAA Tournament renders it nearly impossible to heavily research all participants. As such, March Madness bettors, whether constructing brackets or wagering on individual games, are encouraged to make use of resources such as Dimers' March Madness simulator, as these predictive tools can draw your attention to the teams likely to advance deep into the tournament, as well as potential upsets in the early rounds. By focusing your research on teams that fall into those categories, and relying on seeding to guide the remainder of your bracket picks, you can streamline your process and earn a leg up on the competition.

Risk-Tolerance: As it pertains to constructing your March Madness bracket, risk tolerance is all about developing a strategy around upsets, meaning how many upsets do you plan to include in your bracket, and how extreme will those upsets be. While researching teams is of course a central component here, it's also critical that you consider who else will be competing in your pool, then create a strategy that gives you the best chance to win based on the competition. For example, if your pool is heavily comprised of risk takers, who you expect to pick many upsets throughout the tournament, then a more conservative strategy with fewer upsets is probably prudent for your bracket, because that will differentiate it from your competitors' while affording you favorable margins, both of which are key for securing a path to victory. If, however, you expect most participants in your pool will simply select the favorite for every game, it's critical to populate your brackets with at least a few upsets, as otherwise it will be virtually impossible to beat a group of people who all have nearly identical brackets.

Tips for Winning March Madness Bets

March Madness can be a challenging time for sports bettors, with so many games and betting options to consider. Here are some tips to help you win your March Madness bets. By using these tips, you can increase your chances of success and make the most of your March Madness betting experience.

  1. Research the Teams: Take the time to research the teams and players in the tournament, as well as their stats, trends, and recent performances. This can help you make more informed betting decisions.
  2. Look for Value: Focus on finding betting opportunities where you can get good value for your money. This might mean betting on underdogs or looking for favorable point spreads.
  3. Manage Your Bankroll: Determine how much you're willing to spend on March Madness betting, and stick to that budget. Avoid chasing losses or getting carried away in the excitement of the tournament.
  4. Consider Multiple Bets: Rather than putting all of your money on one bet, consider spreading your bets across multiple games and markets. This can help you diversify your risk and increase your chances of success.
  5. Stay Disciplined: Stick to your strategy and avoid making impulsive decisions based on emotions or hunches. By staying disciplined and following your plan, you'll be more likely to achieve success in March Madness betting.
  6. Watch the Lines: Keep an eye on the lines and odds as they may shift leading up to game time. This may provide you with a better opportunity to bet on the underdog or to find good value bets.

March Madness Betting Odds: How to Read Them

March Madness betting odds are a key component to betting on the tournament, whether you plan to lay wagers on individual games, or merely plan to use March Madness betting odds as a component of your bracketology research. Below we provide examples to help you interpret the types of college basketball odds you are most likely to encounter.

Example of Moneyline odds:

University of Kentucky (-265) vs. University of Virginia (+230)

Because this is a moneyline, bettors are simply wagering on which team will win, with margin of victory irrelevant. In this example, the “-” before University of Kentucky' s odds informs us that Kentucky are favorites, and the “260” indicate that in order to produce a profit of $100, a bettor would need to wager $260 on Kentucky. The “+” before University of Virginia's odds indicate that Virginia are underdogs, and the “230” indicates that a successful wager of $100 on Virginia would produce a profit of $230.

Example of Spread odds:

University of Kentucky -6.5 (-110) vs. University of Virginia +6.5 (-106)

As with a moneyline, University of Kentucky's odds of “-110” indicate that a wager of $110 will produce a profit of $100, and University of Virginia's odds of “-106” indicate that a wager of $106 will produce a $100 profit. However, because this is a spread, in order for a wager on University of Kentucky to succeed, Kentucky would need to win by more than 6.5 points, whereas a wager on University of Virginia will succeed if Virginia wins by any score, or if they lose by six points or fewer.

Example of Over/Under (a.k.a. “Totals betting”) odds:

Over/Under 147.5 (-115/-105)

With an Over/Under, it is irrelevant which team wins the game; bettors simply predict whether the combined score will surpass 147.5 points. In this example, the “Over” carries odds of -115, meaning a wager of $115 will produce a $100 profit, whereas the “Under” carries odds of -106, meaning a wager of $106 will produce a $100 profit.

Navigating March Madness Bracket Pools

With stratospheric prizes available for creating the perfect March Madness bracket, not to mention year-long bragging rights up for grabs among families, friends, and coworkers, March Madness pools have become enormously popular, even for those who typically have no interest in college basketball. With this in mind, below you'll find Dimers' essential guidelines for navigating March Madness bracket contests and pools.

  1. Choose the right pool: There are many different bracket contests available, from free pools among friends to high-stakes competitions with huge amounts of cash on the line. Consider your budget and your goals before choosing the pool(s) right for you.
  2. Understand the rules and scoring guidelines: While March Madness pools typically follow a standard structure, in which correct picks are rewarded with twice as many points in each subsequent round, it's always a good idea to familiarize yourself thoroughly with the parameters of your specific March Madness bracket contests, as this could affect strategy as you make your picks.
  3. Understand the advantages and limitations of seeding: The most fundamental tool at your disposal for constructing a March Madness bracket is each team's seed, which will indicate whether they are projected to win or lose a given matchup. While seeds are very informative, and a strategy of always picking the higher seed will generally result in a competitive bracket, it's important to remember that dozens of upsets occur every year, and seeds can be misleading, particularly when injuries become a factor.
  4. Choose your upsets carefully: Winning brackets virtually always include at least a few correctly predicted upsets. However, populating your bracket with too many upsets can result in a terrible outcome. Be strategic when selecting upsets, and remember that early round games count for fewer points, so predicting an upset late in the tournament is a high-risk, high-reward strategy.
  5. Know your competition: Understanding that it's almost impossible to assemble a perfect bracket, the real key to winning your pool is creating a prudent strategy based on your competition. Remember, if your bracket is nearly identical to your competitors', your odds of winning are very low. As such, it's critical to make a few picks that will set your bracket apart, while not going overboard and populating your bracket exclusively with long-shot upsets.

Predicting Upsets in March Madness

One of the most exciting and important aspects of March Madness is the potential for upsets. While underdogs don't always win, some do, and correctly predicting those unexpected outcomes will be an essential component of any winning NCAA Tournament bracket. When contemplating which underdogs to pick as winners on your March Madness bracket, take careful note of the tips and strategies below.

  1. Use Dimers' March Madness Simulator: Once the seeds are announced for this year's NCAA Tournament bracket, Dimers' March Madness Simulator will be an indispensable tool for correctly selecting upsets. Not only do we simulate the entire tournament 10,000 times to provide the most accurate possible predictions for the outcome of every matchup, but you can run the simulator as many times as you would like as well, tracking the journey of any specific team to identify plausible upsets in their path to the NCAA Championship.
  2. Incorporate the scoring system for your pool into your strategy: Remember, when it comes to scoring a March Madness bracket, all rounds are not created equally. Correctly picked outcomes in early rounds will earn you fewer points than those later in the tournament, and vice versa. This means there is both higher risk and higher reward to selecting underdogs in the final rounds. Additionally, some pools use scoring systems that award extra points for upsets. Study the rules of your own pool, and consider your competition, then develop a strategy that will maximize your chances at coming out on top, which necessarily requires creating a bracket that's unique from all your competitors'.
  3. Study March Madness upset history: If an upset is defined as an underdog winning a game in which they are at least two seeds lower than the favorite, then there have been between nine and 16 upsets in 30 of the last 37 NCAA Tournaments, with 15 upsets occurring in 2022. This means that a bracket with approximately 12 upsets is advisable; conservative bettors should select no fewer than nine upsets, and aggressive bettors should not exceed 16 upsets. However, if upsets are defined as any underdog winning, even if they are just one seed lower than the favorite, then an additional five to 10 upsets per tournament is the norm, though that number can fluctuate significantly.
  4. Focus on 12-seeds in the first round: Typically, most brackets will prioritize upsets in the first round, when correct underdog predictions can give you an early advantage against the competition, but your bracket will still have time to recover even if your upset selections are incorrect. With this in mind, history tells us that picking 12-seeded underdogs is the most prudent strategy, as their historical winning percentage of approximately 35% is only narrowly lower than 11-seeds (apx. 37%) and 10-seeds (apx. 30%), but, because fewer bettors select 12-seeds to come out on top, a greater advantage is earned when they do.

March Madness Parlays: What You Need to Know

March Madness is a popular time for sports bettors to place parlays, due to the sheer volume of games that take place in a short period of time. For those that don't know, a parlay is an individual wager comprised of multiple separate wagers, called “legs,” and a parlay pays out only if all its legs are successful. Keep in mind the following strategies when constructing your March Madness parlays.

  1. Choose your bets carefully: When making a parlay, it's important to select individual bets you feel confident about. This means doing your research and looking at factors like team records, recent performance, and head-to-head matchups.
  2. Look for edge: As with any type of sports betting, it's important to look for the top betting edge when assembling a parlay, though this tenet is sometimes forgotten, because the large payouts parlays offer can give the illusion of good value even when the reality is the opposite. To find the best edge.
  3. Use Dimers' Parlay Picker: Our parlay picker is unique because it allows bettors to create parlays knowing that each of their legs has the best possible edge against sportsbook odds. March Madness is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of Dimers Parlay Picker, which will save you the time of comparing odds from different books after selecting the legs of your parlay, maximizing your potential profits.
  4. Manage your bankroll: Just like you would for making any wager, it's important to manage your bankroll—keeping track of both winnings and losses—when laying money on March Madness parlays. Never bet more than you can afford to lose.

How to Place a March Madness Futures Bet

March Madness futures wagers are extremely popular, given the format of the tournament allows for future wagers on multiple rounds, including, of course, the Final Four and NCAA Tournament Championship Game. Placing March Madness futures wagers is simple:

  1. Do your research: Futures generally have long odds and high payouts, amplifying the importance that every March Madness futures wager is carefully researched. Do your homework before putting your money on the line.
  2. Choose a sportsbook with the best edge: Once you've decided which futures wager(s) is/are right for you, use Dimers' resources to find the sportsbook(s) with the best edge for your futures bets, guaranteeing the highest payout if they succeed.
  3. Register with new sportsbooks to redeem sign-up promos: Because of the high-risk, high-reward nature of futures wagers, this sort of bet is ideal for making use the excellent value sportsbooks offer with sign-up promotion. If possible, register with a new sportsbook before laying your futures wager, then redeem the accompanying promotion, which generally will include some sort of bonus bet or bet credit to deploy on your March Madness futures bet.
  4. Follow the tournament and adjust your strategy as necessary: Follow the tournament closely and keep track of the teams you bet on, as well as the potential of laying new futures wagers after early rounds, depending on shifting odds and unexpected outcomes. The later rounds of the NCAA Tournament include the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, and National Championship, and these will be your best opportunities for March Madness futures betting.

Live Betting on March Madness Games

Live betting on March Madness is a great way to add an extra level of excitement to the tournament, particularly if your bracket isn't faring as well as you had hoped. Live betting, also known as in-play betting, allows you to place bets on games even as they take place, and the following strategies should be kept in mind for March Madness live betting:

  1. Act quickly, but never rashly: Live betting requires quick decisions, as odds and lines can change rapidly during the game. Prudent decision making can lead to great value, but it's critical not to get caught up in the moment and chase loses with bad bets.
  2. Don't get tunnel vision: You can place a wide range of live bets during the game, including the winner of the game, the point spread, the total score, and various player and team props. Don't get tunnel vision when betting live: keep track of all your options, and select only the best ones.
  3. Know the game you're betting on: In order to make informed live bets, it's important to have a clear understanding of the game in question, including how the teams are playing on that particular day. If you don't feel you have this requisite expertise, or you haven't been watching the game on which you plan to lay a live bet, reconsider before risking your hard-earned cash.

Make the Most of March Madness Prop Bets

March Madness player and teams prop bets are wagers on events that may or may not occur during the course of any given game, and have no relationship to which team will emerge victorious. Common props include over/unders for a player in a given stat category—points, rebounds, assists, etc.—the total points scored in a game, the amount of points either team will score or concede, and so on. Keep the following in mind when laying March Madness props:

  1. Maximize edge with Dimers Best Props:s Dimers' Best Props page is invaluable for those looking to lay March Madness prop bets, perhaps more so than for any other type of wager. This is because Dimers regularly identifies higher betting edges with props than standard bets such as moneylines and spreads. Dimers' Best Props picks are free: don't squander potential profits by ignoring the information at your disposal!
  2. Consider the wide range of options: Besides the Super Bowl, there are more options available for March Madness prop betting than any other sporting event that takes place throughout the year. Consider all your options, and lay wager only on the games, teams, and players with which you have the most expertise.
  3. Do extra research: Because March Madness prop bets relate to such a broad array of topics, some of which have nothing to do with the games themselves, a bit of extra research can lead to huge profits, the sheer breadth of possibilities often resulting in sportsbooks miscalculating their odds, or offering wagers with plentiful available background information.

Researching Teams and Players Before Placing Bets

Researching teams and players is a crucial part of successful March Madness betting. To make informed bets, you'll need to have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each team and player. Here's what you need to know about researching teams and players before placing bets:

  1. Analyze team records: One of the most important factors to consider when betting on March Madness is the team's record. Look at the team's overall record, as well as their record in conference play and against ranked opponents.
  2. Look at player statistics: Individual player statistics can also provide valuable insight when making March Madness bets. Look at factors such as points per game, rebounds per game, and shooting percentages.
  3. Consider the tournament bracket: The tournament bracket can also play a role in making informed bets. Look at the matchups and consider which teams have a favorable path to the later rounds of the tournament.
  4. Check for injuries: Injuries can significantly impact a team's performance, so it's important to check for any injuries or player absences before placing bets.

Use Betting Trends to Inform Your March Madness Bets

Betting trends are an essential resource from the moment you begin formulating your March Madness betting strategy all the way to the end of the process, when it's time to put your money on the line. Betting trends refers to the historical performance of teams and players compared to the odds, over/under totals, and spreads that have been offered by sportsbooks in the past. Here's what you need to know about using betting trends to inform your March Madness bets:

  1. Identify historical March Madness trends: Unsurprisingly, the first step to using betting trends as an effective tool for your own March Madness wagers is identifying what trends have existed in the past, both in terms of this year's college basketball season, and previous NCAA Tournaments. Fortunately, the popularity of March Madness betting means there is an enormous amount of data readily available, so this process should be relatively quick and simple.
  2. Analyze the data: Once you've identified relevant March Madness trends, analyze the data to see how it might impact the current NCAA Tournament. For example, just because 12-seeds have historically been the best bets for first-round upsets doesn't mean that will necessarily continue this year, if your research demonstrates the 12-seeds in the current field have particularly unfavorable matchups.
  3. Keep an eye on line movement: Pay attention to how the lines are moving, as this is akin to real-time trend tracking, and can provide insights into where the public is placing their wagers. With that said, sometimes betting against a current trend is preferable, but only if you have reason to believe herd mentality is driving line movement, and thus creating favorable betting edges for those with well-researched insights that contradict the trend in question.

Making the Most of March Madness Bonuses and Promotions.

Every year, March Madness creates huge profit potential for bettors registering with new sportsbooks, via the enormous, limited time March Madness promos available for sign-up. While sportsbooks in the US typically offer some additional value for sign-up all year long, they often roll out much more lucrative offers during special events like the NCAA Tournament. This year, sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, bet365, PointsBet, and many more, are all offering excellent sign-up promotions for March Madness betting. These bonuses typically included lucrative bet credits, bonus bets, or special first bet offers, all of which can be redeemed on March Madness games, creating enormous opportunities for maximizing profit. Best of all, regardless of which state you're betting from, there are no limits as to how many sportsbooks a user can register with, nor how many sign-up promos can be collected. Dimers keeps careful tabs on these offers, and the links we provide will always lead to the top available sign-up value at the sportsbooks in question, meaning these massive money-making opportunities are all just one click away.

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