An Epic March Madness Betting Strategy Guide

With an epic title like that to start off our online March Madness betting guide—we’ve got a lot to live up to. Here’s the good news. In the next few minutes, we plan to bring you the most comprehensive, profit-driving, eye-popping (if that’s a good thing) NCAA tournament betting strategy guide in existence.

Contents of Our 2021 March Madness Betting Strategy Guide

Need to Know March Madness Betting Trends

    NCAA March Madness Logo

  • 36.84% of teams that were undefeated during the regular season went on to win the NCAAB tournament.

  • A #5 seed has NEVER won the NCAAB tournament.

  • Statistically speaking (based on historical performance), you should pick about 1 #3 seed vs #14 seed upset every 2 years. (Full breakdowns for every seed matchup included below)

  • The Atlantic Coast Conference has the most NCAAB March Madness Championships (16).

  • 42.1% of one loss regular season teams went on to make the Final Four.

  • From 1985 to 2020, 62.8% of Championships were won by a #1 seed.

  • A #1 seed has only ever lost once in the first round
  • Duke holds the record for the most upsets of a #1 team at 9.

This is just a small sample of what we’ll be covering in this guide. Keep reading for more stats, data, betting tips, and trends that can help you make the perfect March Madness bracket or win money betting on the NCAA tournament!

Best Online March Madness Betting Sites

Before we dribble into this topic any further, we want to make sure you’ve got somewhere to bet. Whether you’re looking to land a major score with a bracket pool bet or you want to fire off some traditional sports bets on the tournament—these sites have you covered.

  1. BetUS – Best Overall March Madness Betting App ($1,000,000 bracket contest)
  2. MyBookie – Best March Madness App for Prop Bets
  3. BetNow – Best In-Game March Madness Betting App
  4. Bovada – Best VIP Rewards Program for College Basketball Bettors
  5. BetOnline – Best Cash Buy-In March Madness Bracket Pool ($100,000 Guarantee)

Types of March Madness Bets Available

Betting on March Madness comes in lots of different shapes and sizes. And it’s imperative that you understand your options so you can best decide which type of bet (or types) is best for you.

Specifically, there are three main types of March Madness bets you can make online or in-person—bracket pools, traditional bets, and proposition wagers. Later in this guide, we’ll break into the betting strategy for each, but to start, let’s look at what each entails and the pros and cons.

March Madness Bracket Pools

A March Madness bracket pool is a competition to see who in a group of people can best predict the outcomes of the games in the NCAAB tournament. The contest can be between friends, coworkers, family, or a group of random people through a casino or online betting app.

Once the tournament lineup is set, bettors select winners all the way through the end of the tournament. As all of this is done before the first tipoff, bettors use their predicted 1st round winners to predict the 2nd round games, and so on and so forth.

Once you submit your bracket, all selections are locked in.

Based on the rules decided on by the person running your league, points are awarded for correct picks in each round. The person with the highest number of points at the end of the tournament wins!

Pros:

  • One entry gets you action on every game instantly
  • Often have the chance to turn a small buy-in into a huge score
  • Can be a lot of fun and build camaraderie between friends, family, and coworkers
  • Widely accepted even by those who aren’t fans of gambling or sports betting

Cons:

  • It locks your money up for the entire tournament (no one is paid out until after the last game)
  • Variance is higher as you’ll win less likely than with traditional bets
  • If you miss the entry deadline, you’re out of luck

FAQ About Bracket Pools

Do I Get More Points for Correct Picks in Later Rounds?

Generally, yes. Most scoring systems give increasing points for correct picks made in later rounds.

What Happens if I Get Two 1st Round Games Wrong and Have No Team Playing in a 2nd Round Game?

You’re not going to be able to score any points then. As you can see, even though early-round games are often worth fewer points, it’s still critical to get them correct so you have a shot at the higher later-round games.

What Happens if Two People Submit the Same Bracket?

The odds of this happening are astronomical. But if it does happen, you’d end up in a tie and share any prize won.

Does Only 1st Place Win Money in a College Basketball Bracket?

Generally, no. Most bracket pools pay out money to around the top 10%. The higher you finish, though, the more money you get.

Can I Have More Than One March Madness Bracket?

It depends on the competition. In some bracket pools, you can have more than one entry, as long as you pay the buy-in for each entry. It increases your chances of winning, but it does increase how much money you’re in for.

Jump to: Filling Out the Perfect March Madness Bracket


Traditional Bets

Just because bracket bets are all the craze during March Madness doesn’t mean that you can’t make traditional sportsbook wagers too. Moneylines, spread bets, futures, and totals are all still available for every single game on the ticket.

Pros:

  • Opportunities to win on all 67 March Madness games
  • Able to capitalize on single-game tips and predictions
  • Lots of flexibility to bet on things besides the winner of the game
  • Can continue to make bets throughout the entire tournament (no hard cutoff)

Cons:

  • All the betting options can be overwhelming
  • Less likely to win life-changing money in one wager (exception is futures betting)

Jump to: Expert Tips for Winning March Madness Bets


Proposition Wagers (Prop Bets)

While proposition wagers can be classified under traditional online sportsbook bets, we wanted to give them their own category as they are somewhat different, especially during major sporting events like March Madness.

A proposition bet is a wager on whether or not a particular event will happen during a single NCAAB game or throughout the tournament. If you select the right side of the wager you win.

Here are a few examples of college basketball prop bets you might see.

  • Will a certain team make it to the Elite 8?
  • Will a certain player score over 12.5 points in the 1st round game?
  • Will a #1 seed lose in the first round?
  • Will more than one SEC team make the Final Four?
  • Will there be a technical foul in either of the Final Four games?
  • Will a certain player foul out in the next game?

Pros:

  • Unique way to really leverage predictions that don’t directly affect the outcome of the game
  • Bigger opportunities to find value and bad lines
  • Some of the most fun bets on the planet

Cons:

  • Some prop bets are purely for entertainment value (no way to gain an edge)
  • All the prop options can be overwhelming

Jump to: Free March Madness Expert Betting Picks

March Madness Betting Tips for Beginners

First time jumping into the fray? Welcome! You’re going to learn quickly that real money March Madness betting is one of the most exciting ways to add a little spice to the already-amazing NCAA tournament betting action.

What we wanted to do is offer a few beginner tips for betting on March Madness to get you moving in the right direction. If you’re already an expert, you can skip to the next sections (or scan through for a quick refresher).

Set a Betting Budget and Stick to It

Yes, you can make a lot of money betting on college basketball games online. However, that never means you should bet with more money than you’re comfortable losing. Set a budget of how much you’re okay potentially losing throughout the entire tournament, and stick to it. There are no such things as locks no matter what anyone tries to tell you. If there were, we’d have retired by now.

And if you need any help, check our guide to proper sports betting bankroll management here.

Don’t Miss Out On the Free Bracket Competitions

Yes, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to nail a perfect bracket or anything close to it. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t. There are plenty of free bracket competitions out there that pay life-changing money if you nail a perfect bracket. Since these are $0 to enter, you’re not doing yourself any favors by not entering.

  • BetUS: $1,000,000 free bracket contest
    • Fill out a completed perfect bracket and win $1,000,000
    • Fill out a perfect 16-team bracket and you’ll win $10,000
    • Fill out a perfect 8-team bracket and you’ll win $10,000
  • Yahoo Tourney Pick’ Em ($50,000 in prizes)
  • ESPN Tournament Challenge

Take Advantage of March Madness Bonus Offers

The best U.S. March Madness betting websites offer some great bonuses for college basketball bettors. In simpler terms, you can get free money and free VIP perks just for making the same NCAAB bets you were planning to make in the first place. Here are a few of our favorites you can cash in on right now.

Best March Madness Bonuses
BetUS MyBookie BetOnline
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Visit BetUS Visit MyBookie Visit BetOnline

Always, Always Check Your Bets

Whether you are betting on March Madness games online, in-person, or with friends, one thing remains the same—we are all humans. And as humans, we are prone to make mistakes from time to time. There’s nothing that hurts more than sweating an NCAAB game and thinking you’ve won, only to find out that you or the sportsbook agent put your bet in incorrectly.

Before you submit a bet ticket through an online sports betting app or you walk away from the counter at a brick and mortar sportsbook, check your ticket. Make sure the amount is correct, the line is correct, and the team or side of the bet you’re on is also correct.

Mistakes can be corrected, but only when addressed immediately.

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Filling Out the Perfect March Madness Bracket

March Madness Brackets are one of the most fun and potentially lucrative opportunities for sports fans and sports bettors every year. And if you happen to know what you’re doing, you could have the opportunity to turn a small investment into a major score.

But how do you go about filling out the perfect March Madness bracket? Unless you have days or weeks to pour through each team, you might be feeling a little lost. Never fear; that’s what we’re here for.

In this section of our March Madness betting guide, our team is going to share some of the best March Madness bracket strategy tips you need to win. The tips and step-by-step breakdown are made for bettors of all skill levels. If you’re a beginner, this is for you. If you’re incredibly experienced and just looking for an edge over the competition, this is for you too.

NCAA March Madness Logo Bracket - Basketball Ball

Understand the Rule Set for Each Bracket Tournament

Not all March Madness bracket betting tournaments are created equally. Whoever sets up your league (whether that be a friend, coworker, or online gambling site), gets the ability to choose the rule sets for the tournament.

It is absolutely imperative that you take the time to read through the rules to maximize your March Madness betting strategy. Here are some of the things that may be different and how that should play into your strategy.

  • Play-In (First Four) Games Included – If the First Four games are included (the games before it’s a group of 64), this changes when your bracket is due. The worst thing you can do is miss the deadline and not get an entry in.
  • Bonus Points for Upsets – Often, people like to include bonus points for correctly picking upsets. Strategically, this can be a slippery slope. It tends to make people way over pick upsets in hopes of snagging bonus points. The result, though, is a trashed bracket after the 1st round.
    Should you consider adding in more upsets if they’re worth more points?

    Yes. However, you should always opt for the team you genuinely think is going to win. If you have an on-the-fence decision and there are bonus points for an upset, that’s a good spot to favor the underdog.

  • The Scoring System – The biggest difference between March Madness bracket tournament leagues is how the rounds are scored. We’ve talked already about bonus points for upsets, but we want to talk about how many points are awarded for a win. In some leagues, every win is 1 point. However, in others, you earn more points for a correct pick in later rounds. Pay attention to how big the increase may be.

    The most important implication of this is where you spend your research time. If picking the Champion awards an astronomically high number of points (which is common), spend more time researching that potential game. If it’s the same or only a few points more, spread your time out more across the board.

Work Backwards First

Often, sports bettors start their bracket with the round of 64 and work logically through to the Champion. While this does work, there is an easier way. Work backwards. Start by selecting the single team you think is going to win the March Madness tournament. From there, select the other three teams you expect to make the Final Four. Continue doing this through the earlier rounds.

What this does is takes what looks like a vast and confusing landscape of 64 teams and shrinks it down to size. Additionally, if there are more points for the Champion (which is common), you’re starting where you stand to make the most ground.

Perfect the Balance of 1st Round Upsets

The toughest challenge for March Madness bettors of all skill levels is deciding how many 1st round upsets to choose. While you may get fewer points for correct 1st round picks, a bad 1st round means you have fewer opportunities to score in later rounds.

How many 1st round upsets should you pick?

Ideally, you should look at each game individually and ignore historical upset trends. However, realistically, very few people have that much time. To bridge the gap and stay within the intelligent lines, a great March Madness betting strategy is to look at historical trends.

Here are how many upsets you should pick per match up based on historical data. If you’d like to see the full data on these matchups and some additional information, scroll down as we’ve included all of that further down in this guide.

  • #1 vs. #16: Pick one upset every 25 years. (It’s only happened once).
  • #2 vs. #15: Pick about one upset every 5 years.
  • #3 vs. #14: Pick about one upset every 2 years.
  • #4 vs. #13: Pick a little bit under one upset every year.
  • #5 vs. #12: Pick about 1 to 2 upsets every year.
  • #6 vs. #11: Pick about 1 to 2 upsets every year.
  • #7 vs. #10: Pick about 1 to 2 upsets every year.
  • #8 vs. #9: Pick around 2 upsets every year.

Understand How Each Seed Historically Performs

Once you solve the upset quandary, the next question most people have is how far they should have each team going in the NCAA tournament. Again, this is something that ideally is decided on a game-by-game basis, but you’re talking weeks of research.

So, like with the upsets, we like to look at historical data to figure out roughly how far each seed generally goes. From there, you can assess each team’s talent and look for opportunities to deviate from the historical standard.

If you scroll down in this guide to the section titled ‘Historical Win Percentage Based On Seed,’ you’ll find everything you need and more to bet on March Madness outcomes a little bit smarter.

Utilize Multiple Entries (If Applicable)

Depending on the rules of your college basketball bracket competition and your preferred March Madness betting strategy, it might be wise to look into putting in multiple entries if it’s allowed. While this does increase the amount of money you’re in for, it does give you a better chance of winning. It also gives you the ability to easily settle critical spots where you believe it’s a toss-up.

Tips:
  • Understand how much the top prize is. The bigger the multiple is in relation to your buy-in, the better it becomes as a strategy. For example, firing a second $10 entry if first place is $100 is not as good of a spot as firing a second $10 entry when first place is $1,500—risking $20 to win $100 vs. risking $20 to win $1,500.
  • Make sure it’s in the rules. Not every tournament ruleset allows multiple entries. Some allow unlimited and some allow up to a certain number. Find the sweet spot that works for you, your bankroll, and your March Madness betting strategy.

Don’t Forget the Free Entries

Picking a perfect bracket is close to impossible. In fact, the odds are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 if you flip a coin and about 1 in 120,200,000,000 if you’re knowledgeable. That being said, Dumb and Dumber said it best—so you’re saying there’s a chance!

Many companies run perfect bracket competitions where they pledge to give something like $1,000,000 or a car or something else crazy to someone who picks a perfect bracket. Are you going to win? Probably not. Can you win if you don’t play? Nope. Why not take a few minutes and get yourself into these completely free contests just in case you nail that 1 in 120 billion shot.

  • BetUS: $1,000,000 free bracket contest
  • Yahoo Tourney Pick’ Em ($50,000 in prizes)
  • ESPN Tournament Challenge

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Expert Tips for Winning March Madness Bets

Bracket betting is not the only way you can make money when betting on March Madness. Traditional sports bets are just as popular! Here are some expert March Madness betting tips to help you cash in on this year’s event.

Traditional College Basketball Betting Strategy Still Holds

Yes, the March Madness tournament is a bigger stage. However, at the end of the day, it’s still college basketball. We’re not going to spend too long driving this one home, but remember this—all the college basketball knowledge and betting strategies that worked for you during the season shouldn’t get discounted just because it’s NCAA tournament betting time.

Don’t Discount the Smaller Market Games

Basketball Ball - Expert Tips
The key to making money betting on March Madness is finding value. And the best way to find value is to find betting lines that are way off from where they should be. As bets shift based on how other bettors bet, opportunities are going to come up. And the smaller/lower-profile games are going to have larger shifts based on the smaller overall amount of money bet there. (It takes less money to shift the line).

What this means for you is that you may have an opportunity to cash in on some major value. Yes, it’s fun to bet the marquee games in primetime. However, if making money betting on March Madness is a goal, never discount the opportunities in smaller-ticket games.

Prepare for Initial Lines Early

March Madness sports betting sites and brick and mortar sportsbooks work overtime during the NCAA tournament. They’re forced to put out lines quicker and with minimal notice. Are they going to make mistakes? Absolutely. And if you’re fast, you can pounce on these value spots.

The key is being ready for all game outcomes before they happen.

For example, have an idea of what you think the line should be in the next round game based on each potential outcome. When the game finishes and the lines for the next round are released, you’ve already done your homework and can pounce on any mistakes before the other sharps get to it.

Prop Bets Offer Unique Opportunities

One of the major differences between regular-season college basketball betting and March Madness betting is the number of proposition wagers available. Instead of only seeing traditional wager types, expect to see a large number of unique bets on players, teams, conferences, and outcomes.

Why do we point this out?

Because many of these bets aren’t available during the regular season, which means many college basketball bettors aren’t ready for them. For each game you want to bet, come up with a detailed storyline of how you expect the game to unfold. Once you have that in hand, look at the props available. See if there are any March Madness props that match your storyline and provide some unique opportunities to make money.

Heavily Scrutinize Conference Tournament Play

A common mistake made by newer March Madness bettors is only looking at a team’s overall record to make predictions. While this information is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story. College basketball is notorious for teams getting streaky at the right and wrong times.

One of the best ways to determine how a team will perform into the tournament is to look at how they play in the conference tournament that precedes March Madness.

Look for teams getting hot, and more importantly, look for teams that might be losing the magic they had early in the season to build that sexy record.

Evaluate Star Players In Past Big Moments

March Madness is a big stage for young players. If it’s a player’s first year in the spotlight, it’s hard to predict how they’re going to react. However, if they’ve been to the big dance before or played primetime games in the past, look at those results.

Did they rise to the occasion? Did they seem nervous? Were there unforced errors and mistakes? While a team is more than one player, any sports fan knows that the play of a superstar is critical to success.

Free Throws, Free Throws, Free Throws

If you’ve watched any amount of college basketball, you know how close the games can be, especially during tournament time.

Often, the games come down to a few points, and which team can sink free throws.

When you’re making your picks for this year’s March Madness tournament, put a lot of weight on the teams that are great from the stripe. It’s not everything, but when it comes down to the wire—it can be the make or break.

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Free March Madness Expert Betting Picks

Sometimes it’s just easier to rely on the experts who bet for a living to help you figure out where to place your money. And even if you want to make your own March Madness picks, you can still analyze their thought processes to make sure there’s nothing you missed.

If you’re ready, we’ve included links below to our most-recent March Madness betting blogs and free picks.

Which Conference Plays the Best During March Madness?

You’ve probably heard people say that a team is only as good as its competition. And, generally, what they mean by that is that playing tougher teams helps you to better sharpen your skills. This is certainly the case for college basketball. There’s a reason you see some of the same conferences winning frequently and constantly making it to the big dance.

So, which NCAAB conferences play the best during the March Madness tournament? Here are the results (through 2020):

  • Atlantic Coast has the most Championships (18)

  • Pac-12 has the second most Championship (16)

  • SEC and Big Ten are tied for third-most Championships (11 each)

  • Big Ten has the most runner up (2nd place) finishes (16)

Conference Appearances Championships Runner Up Win %
America East 5 0 0 .200
American Athletic 12 6 5 .545
Atlantic 10 14 1 2 .441
Atlantic Coast 15 18 15 .620
Atlantic Sun 4 0 1 .364
Big 12 10 5 13 .564
Big East 10 5 9 .535
Big Sky 11 0 0 .227
Big South 7 0 0 .188
Big Ten 14 11 16 .608
Big West 8 0 0 .326
Colonial 8 0 0 .200
Conference USA 14 1 0 .359
Horizon 9 0 0 .275
Ivy 8 0 2 .333
Metro Atlantic 10 0 0 .246
Mid-American 12 0 0 .291
Mid-Eastern 10 0 0 .111
Missouri Valley 10 1 3 .450
Mountain West 11 2 0 .363
Northeast 7 0 0 .139
Ohio Valley 10 0 0 .186
Pac-12 12 16 6 .574
Patriot 9 1 0 .266
Southeastern (SEC) 14 11 6 .574
Southern 9 0 0 .193
Southland 11 0 0 .256
Southwestern 9 0 0 .133
Summit 3 0 0 .211
Sun Belt 12 0 0 .150
West Coast 10 2 2 .445
Western Athletic 3 0 0 .328

What about throughout the past decade? Well, we see some interesting facts and figures when we look at 2010-2019.

  • Atlantic Coast has the most wins with a record of 109-59.
  • The Big East has had the most teams make the tournament with 68. The record for those teams collectively is 80-64.

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Historical Win Percentages Based on Seed

Prior to the start of March Madness, teams are selected to enter the NCAA tournament. And not only is it a big deal to get selected to make the tournament, but it’s also a big deal what seed you get. Teams are ranked across four different groups from 1 to 16. The higher your seed, the easier your road to the finals theoretically should be.

So, how have teams fared in the NCAAB Championship based on seed? Let’s take a look. This information is critical for people looking to use data to make the perfect March Madness bracket. This data is from 1985 – 2020.

  • 22 of the 35 Championships during this most recent time period were won by the #1 seed (62.85%).
Seed Total Wins Total Losses Win % # of Championships # of Runner Ups
#1 469 118 79.90% 22 12
#2 332 135 71.09% 5 8
#3 261 136 65.74% 4 7
#4 215 139 60.73% 1 2
#5 156 140 52.70% 0 3
#6 150 139 51.90% 1 1
#7 127 139 47.74% 1 0
#8 98 139 41.35% 1 2
#9 84 140 37.50% 0 0
#10 87 140 38.33% 0 0
#11 86 140 38.05% 0 0
#12 72 140 33.96% 0 0
#13 35 138 20.23% 0 0
#14 23 142 13.94% 0 0
#15 9 140 6.04% 0 0
#16 1 140 0.71% 0 0
Interesting Note:
A #5 seed has NEVER won the NCAA March Madness tournament. Always the bride’s maid, never the bride.

Seed vs. Seed Data

When you’re filling out your March Madness bracket, you may be wondering how many upsets you should pick. And while each year is different, we can look through historical trends to see just how each matchup goes. Let’s start by looking at the raw data and then we can pull out a few meaningful trends.

Matchup Wins Losses Win %
#1 vs #16 139 1 .993
#2 vs #15 132 8 .943
#3 vs #14 119 21 .850
#4 vs #13 111 29 .793
#5 vs #12 90 50 .643
#6 vs #11 88 52 .629
#7 vs #10 85 55 .607
#8 vs #9 68 72 .486

In the first round of the NCAA tournament, there are 4 games of each matchup. So, let’s take a look based on historical data how often we should be picking upsets.

Matchup Win % Upset % Est. Out of 100 How Often Should You Pick a 1st Round Upset?
#1 vs #16 99.30% 0.70% 1 out of 100 Once every 25 years
#2 vs #15 94.30% 5.70% 6 out of 100 About 1 upset every 5 years
#3 vs #14 85.00% 15.00% 15 out of 100 About 1 upset every 2 years
#4 vs #13 79.30% 20.70% 21 out of 100 A little under 1 upset per year
#5 vs #12 64.30% 35.70% 36 out of 100 1 to 2 upsets per year
#6 vs #11 62.90% 37.10% 37 out of 100 1 to 2 upsets per year
#7 vs #10 60.70% 39.30% 39 out of 100 1 to 2 upsets per year
#8 vs #9 48.60% 51.40% 51 out of 100 Two upsets per year

Percentage Wins by Seed by Round

Want to know how each seed performs into later rounds? It’s a great place to look for trends. Here’s a look at win percentages based on seed in each round.

Seed 1st RD 2nd RD Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Championship
#1 99.17% 89.21% 80.83% 58.76% 59.65% 64.71%
#2 95.83% 69.63% 71.91% 45.31% 44.83% 38.46%
#3 85.83% 65.04% 48.65% 47.22% 64.71% 36.36%
#4 78.33% 61.40% 31.82% 61.90% 23.08% 33.33%
#5 65.83% 55.56% 19.15% 77.78% 42.86% 0.00%
#6 65.00% 48.98% 33.33% 21.43% 66.67% 50.00%
#7 59.17% 40.66% 37.04% 30.00% 33.33% 100.00%
#8 44.17% 34.25% 61.54% 62.50% 60.00% 33.33%
#9 55.83% 12.64% 57.14% 25.00% 0.00%
#10 40.83% 37.68% 34.78% 12.50% 0.00%
#11 35.00% 41.94% 36.36% 50.00% 0.00%
#12 59.17% 45.90% 4.76% 0.00%
#13 21.67% 15.91% 0.00%
#14 22.50% 15.38% 0.00%
#15 4.17% 12.00% 0.00%
#16 0.83% 0.00%

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Teams Most Notorious for Upsetting Number 1 Seeds

One of the most fun parts of building out a March Madness bracket or making traditional sports bets on games is looking for upsets. Not only can it separate you from the pack, but it can net you a major win, depending on how big the underdog is.

The biggest upsets in the entire tournament are always going to be anytime a #1 seed falls. So, are there teams with a history of knocking off #1 seeds? Let’s take a look.

While every year and every team is different, if you’re a #1 seed playing Duke, Kansas, or North Carolina—watch out.

How Undefeated Teams Fared In the NCAA Tournament

Going undefeated during the college basketball regular season is an amazing feat. Generally, that gets you into the March Madness tournament and puts you in line for a real cushy #1 seed. But how have undefeated teams fared in the tournament?

  • Through 2020, 19 undefeated teams have entered the tournament.
  • UCLA is the leader with 4 undefeated appearances (1964, 1967, 1972, and 1973).
  • 7 of the 19 teams went on to win the Championship (36.84%).
  • The most recent undefeated team to enter the tournament was Kentucky in 2015. The team went 4-1 and finished 3rd.
  • 12 of the 19 times the team reached the Final Four (63.15%).

How 1-Loss Teams Fared in the March Madness

An undefeated season is incredible. But a one-loss season is only slightly off the mark, especially in the highly competitive world of college basketball. When you’re making your bracket or deciding how far a team may go, you’ll want to make sure to consider these one-blemish powerhouses that had a great season.

How did 1-loss teams fare during March Madness? Here’s everything you need to know.

  • Through 2020, 57 1-loss teams made the NCAA March Madness tournament.
  • Only 6 of those 57 entries went on to win the Championship (10.5%).
  • The most recent 1-loss team to make the big dance was Gonzaga in 2017. The team went 5-1 and finished 2nd.
  • 24 of the 57 teams reached the Final Four (42.10%).
  • 14 of the 57 teams didn’t win a single game in the tournament (24.56%).

How Teams with a .500 Record Fared in the NCAAB Tournament

For many teams, a .500 season (equal wins and losses) is a goal. This is especially true for growing programs that might play in a tougher conference. Through 2020, nine teams have made the tournament with a .500 record. So far, these teams haven’t won a single game. The most recent team was Mt. St. Mary’s in 2014.

How Teams With Losing Records Fared in the NCAA Tournament

Because teams can win their way into the big dance through conference tournaments, you sometimes end up with teams that have a losing regular-season record. How have these teams fared in the tournament? Let’s take a look.

  • Through 2020, 26 teams with losing records have made it into the March Madness tournament.
  • The most recent team was Texas Southern in 2018 under the tutelage of Mike Davis.
  • Collectively, the 26 teams have won only 11 games with only one team making it past the second round (Bradley in 1955).

Average Game Point Totals – Historical Data Trends

March Madness totals bets (also known as over/unders) are an incredibly popular wager to make. If you’ve never heard of them before, the premise is simple. The online college basketball betting sites set a ‘line’ on how many total points they believe will be scored in a game. You get the option to bet on whether you think more or fewer points will be scored. If you’re right, you win! It doesn’t matter which team scores the points or who wins.

As we know, the game of basketball changes as new strategies and styles of play emerge. What have the average game
point totals in the March Madness tournament looked like over the years? Glad you asked.

Historical NCAAB Team Scoring Data During March Madness

Year Games Avg. PPG Per Team Total PPG FG % 3FG %
2000 63 67.44 134.88 42.32% 33.35%
2001 64 70.86 141.72 43.36% 32.11%
2002 64 73.79 147.58 43.71% 35.77%
2003 64 71.05 142.10 43.73% 36.29%
2004 64 69.88 139.76 43.44% 34.53%
2005 64 70.47 140.94 44.02% 35.18%
2006 64 68.19 136.38 43.09% 33.72%
2007 64 69.64 139.28 43.40% 35.08%
2008 64 70.27 140.54 44.21% 34.72%
2009 64 70.80 141.60 43.29% 33.11%
2010 64 68.68 137.36 42.77% 34.30%
2011 67 67.55 135.10 43.00% 34.42%
2012 67 65.72 131.44 42.71% 33.04%
2013 67 65.78 131.56 42.34% 33.11%
2014 67 68.39 136.78 44.23% 33.58%
2015 67 67.77 135.54 43.47% 35.46%
2016 67 71.85 143.70 44.82% 34.24%
2017 67 73.98 147.96 45.27% 34.69%
2018 67 70.59 141.18 43.17% 32.76%
2019 67 70.12 140.24 43.28% 34.28%

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The NCAAB March Madness Tournament By the Numbers

If the data nerd side of you is not already jumping with joy, it’s about to get a lot more excited. Below, we’ve compiled a multitude of statistics and data on past March Madness tournaments that you can use to improve your college basketball betting ability. If you’ve ever wondered how your team or another team has fared over the years, this is right where you want to be.

Things to Remember:
  • Each year the teams are different. While it’s fun and sometimes helpful to look at historical data, make sure you view it in the right context. Just because a team is notable for accomplishing something in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re guaranteed to come through and win your March Madness bets this year.

  • More recent betting trends are always going to have more value than trends from decades ago.

Most NCAA Tournament Appearances

Want to know which college basketball teams have made it to the tournament the most times? Here you go! Currently, Kentucky has a pretty commanding lead over North Carolina and the rest of the field.

Most NCAAB March Madness Tournament Appearances by Team (Through 2020)

Team # of Tournament Appearances
Kentucky 58
North Carolina 50
Kansas 48
UCLA 47
Duke 43
Indiana 39
Louisville 39
Syracuse 38
Villanova 38
Notre Dame 36

Most Consecutive NCAAB Appearances

While the aforementioned college basketball teams have the most appearances in the tournament, what about trends and streaks? Well, we figured you college basketball bettors would want to take a look at which teams had the most consecutive March Madness appearances over the years. Keep in mind these are not necessarily still live trends (which we’ll cover next).

Current winner? Kansas. And in case you can’t wait to scroll down—yes, that streak is still alive today.

Most Tournament Games Played

Which college basketball team has played the most tournament games? Current winner—Kentucky. This category is a healthy mix of how long the team has been playing, the number of times they’ve made the tournament, and how far they’ve gotten every year. It’s one of those March Madness stats where more is always going to be better. Teams that play the most games have to win the most and that makes them worth betting money on.

Most March Madness Tournament Games Played – All-Time (Through 2020)

Team # of Total Games Played
Kentucky 181
North Carolina 173
Kansas 155
Duke 141
UCLA 102
Louisville 102
Syracuse 102
Michigan State 101
Indiana 100
Villanova 97
Arizona 88
UConn 86

Highest NCAAB Tournament Winning Percentage

So, which NCAAB teams win the most? Seems like great info to have for betting on March Madness online.

For teams that have played a minimum of 20 games, we wanted to look at the historical highest winning percentages. The team that’s done the most work when they’ve gotten the opportunity? Duke. Remember, they’re also the team with the highest number of times upsetting a #1 seed.

All-Time Number 1 Seeds

Getting a number 1 seed in the NCAAB tournament is a huge advantage. You get to play a 16 seed in the first round and you get (at least on paper) the easiest path to the Championship. What college basketball teams historically have the most number 1 seeds?

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Additional Resources for March Madness Betting

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March Madness Betting FAQ

Still have questions about March Madness betting strategy? Wish we had covered more college basketball betting tips? We’re happy to help!

Contact us with any March Madness betting questions you have or check out the frequently asked questions below to see what other users are asking:

The best traditional March Madness bet you can make depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a fast payoff, pick a moneyline game winner. If you're okay being patient and want the chance at a big payoff, try a futures bet on which team is going to win the NCAA tournament.

The two easiest March Madness bets to make are futures bets and moneyline bets. Futures bets are wagers on which team will win the entire tournament. Moneyline bets are wagers on which teams will win individual games. All you have to do is be right and you win!

Futures bets or March Madness bracket bets pay the most money. Yes, they are tougher to win, but with risk comes reward.

Yes, you can make both types of bets. In fact, most sports bettors (recreational and professional) have a healthy mix of both types of bets every year.

The best places to make March Madness bets are BetUS, MyBookie, and BetNow. You can learn more about the top online sportsbooks here.

Yes! You can enter several free March Madness bracket contests that we’ve outlined in this guide. Scroll up to get started.

Ideally, you select a winner in each game independently of statistics on upsets. However, looking at past trends can help you identify how many upsets to include. Here are some general guidelines to get you started for this year's March Madness bracket.

  • #1 vs. #16: Pick one upset every 25 years. (It's only happened once).
  • #2 vs. #15: Pick about one upset every 5 years.
  • #3 vs. #14: Pick about one upset every 2 years.
  • #4 vs. #13: Pick a little bit under one upset every year.
  • #5 vs. #12: Pick about 1 to 2 upsets every year.
  • #6 vs. #11: Pick about 1 to 2 upsets every year.
  • #7 vs. #10: Pick about 1 to 2 upsets every year.
  • #8 vs. #9: Pick around 2 upsets every year.

The lowest seed to win the March Madness tournament was a #8 seed. This team was Villanova in 1985.

Different sportsbooks are going to offer different odds on the games and the tournament. Your best option to find the best March Madness betting odds is to shop each of your bets around to find the optimal line. In-person, this is nearly impossible. However, if you choose to use online March Madness betting apps, you can shop several different sportsbooks in a matter of seconds for free to maximize your payouts and chances of winning.

Some top March Madness betting sites begin offering futures bets midway through the tournament season. As you get closer to the NCAA tournament, the number of sites offering action increases. Once Selection Sunday happens, expect all major sportsbooks to offer odds on all teams and games.

We've been asked this a few times now and it's a rather interesting question. To those who make money betting on March Madness definitely! To those who lose maybe not?

Really if you're asking this you need to ask yourself, 'Do I really want to bet on March Madness?'. If you think it will be fun and will help you enjoy the NCAA tournament more, then yes, it's probably worth it.

The short answer to this is that there is no perfect time to bet money on March Madness. Much like with trading stocks March Madness odds and lines will change as the sportsbooks accept more and more bets.

As a sports bettor, you need to identify value and then jump on it. If you wait around for the perfect time to place that March Madness bet you may make more money or you may not. There are no guarantees with NCAA tournament betting.

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