March Madness Preview: NCAA Tournament Sports Betting Odds

According to the calendar, it may not even be February yet, but bettors across the country are already looking ahead to March. March 18th to be exact. That is when the NCAA tournament will tip-off inside a bubble in Indianapolis, Indiana. The anticipation for this year’s tournament should be especially high after the 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID 19. The betting markets are already open on most of the major sportsbooks for fans who don’t want to wait for the games to start placing bets.

What are the Odds?

Here’s a look at the current odds listed on BetRivers, William Hill, FanDuel, and DraftKings for the top 25 teams from the latest AP Poll.

AP RankTeamBetRiversWilliam HillFanDuelDraftKings
1Gonzaga+350+300+280+350
2Baylor+400+700+600+400
3Villanova+700+1000+900+700
4Iowa+1700+1300+1300+1700
5Texas+1100+1800+1400+1100
6Tennessee+2000+1800+1500+2000
7Michigan+1400+1300+1100+1400
8Houston+1500+2500+2000+1500
9Kansas+1700+2500+2200+1700
10Wisconsin+1300+2500+1700+1300
11Creighton+1500+2500+2000+1500
12Texas Tech+1500+3000+2500+1500
13Virginia+2500+3000+2500+2500
14West Virginia+5000+2500+2200+5000
15Ohio State+3000+5000+4000+3000
16Virginia Tech+2500+6000+4500+2500
17Minnesota+4000+6000+7500+4000
18Alabama+3000+3000+2200+3000
19Missouri+5000+7500+7500+5000
20Clemson+3000+5000+5500+3000
21Oregon+2500+4000+3500+2500
22Illinois+2000+2000+1500+2000
23UConn+3000+5000+4500+3000
24UCLA+5000+6000+4500+5000
25Saint Louis+3000+5000+6500+3000

Where to Find Value

It should not come as any surprise that the top 3 teams in the Associated Press poll–Gonzaga, Baylor, and Villanova–are also the betting favorites. They are the only 3 teams with odds shorter than +1000. While those odds may not be as enticing as some of the other teams listed, all 3 of those teams are shaping up to be 1 seeds, and either a 1 or 2 seed has won the tournament the four out of the last five years that it has been played.

Astute sports betting enthusiasts may still be able to find value elsewhere on the board. One way to find value is by looking for big movers in the Associated Press rankings. For example, in the latest poll, Minnesota moved up 6 spots to 17, but they still have longer odds than all of the teams ranked below them in the Top 25.

Alternatively, it may be best to avoid teams that have taken a tumble in the rankings. For example, Illinois just dropped 8 spots to number 22 in the polls, but they are still being valued as a top 10 team by the betting markets. Bettors may be well served to keep a close eye on the latest AP polls to see if there are any teams whose betting odds have not caught up to their most recent performances.

Shop Around

Besides the lines themselves, perhaps the most interesting thing about the table above is the amount of variation between sportsbooks. For the most part, the general trend in betting odds is similar. However, for just about every team in the tournament, the odds change from one book to the next.

If you think that this is Baylor’s year, then you should consider making your bets at William Hill. They are offering them at +700 compared +400 or +600 on the other sites. If you prefer Iowa, then you should look to BetRivers or DraftKings to get them at +1700 as opposed to +1300 on the other sites. And FanDuel has a great line on Minnesota at +7500 if you’re a Golden Gophers fan.

Keep in mind, the table above represents the odds at a snapshot in time when this article was written. It is very likely that by the time you are reading this, the odds on your favorite team have changed and that’s okay. The important thing is to consider all of the licensed and regulated sportsbooks in your jurisdiction and find the one with the best odds for you.

Let’s Have Some Fun Out There

For many of us, this is the first NCAA tournament that will be played since sports betting was legalized in our state. That means it’s the first chance to bet on our favorite teams or alma maters (Let’s Go Nova!) without traveling to Vegas. So ultimately, don’t worry if the team you like isn’t the best value on the board. Sit back and enjoy the fact that you can now legally bet on them to add a little extra madness to your March.

About the Author