Last updated on: April 5th, 2022

Legal March Madness Betting

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is one of the biggest events in sports betting every year. An estimated $10 billion is bet on March Madness every year. With the one-and-done structure, many underdogs cash in big during the tournament. March Madness betting continues to grow, with an estimated 35 million people wagering. There are betting lines for every NCAA Tournament game as well as futures odds and prop bets.

Filling out a bracket is another part of legal March Madness betting. Getting a perfect bracket has never happened despite a $1B prize from Warren Buffet. The odds of hitting the perfect bracket estimate to be 1 in over 9 quintillions. With this, it may be better to play the odds and bet on March Madness odds instead.

The Tournament structure is simple enough to understand. A total of 68 teams will battle it out over the course of 67 total games in a single-elimination style event. Played within 19 days, the loser gets eliminated after one loss while the winner moves on to the next round. This will continue until there are only two teams left, battling it out for the title. This is a major betting attraction at legal sports betting sites due to the one and done nature.


Is It Legal To Bet On March Madness?

Las Vegas was the popular go-to March Madness betting destination. Now, there are many legal ways to bet on March Madness. Around 30 states offer regulated Tournament odds and online sports betting is prevalent. Some states have a prohibition against certain collegiate sports bets. While some books don’t allow bets on local teams, others may restrict player props. Players should instead look to legal sports betting sites which have no restrictions. They are legal to bet on March Madness so long as users are 18+.


Bovada Sportsbook

Bovada March Madness Betting

March Madness betting time is upon sports bettors. As arguably the biggest sports betting event of the year, bettors have plenty of options when it comes to betting on March Madness on Bovada. Bettors can take advantage of the normal game lines that they have to offer or even bet on March Madness game props as well such as first half totals, winning margin and more. The great thing about Bovada is that they allow their CBB betting players to get a hold of their 2022 March Madness odds from anywhere as they can be accessed right at your fingertips. Check out the college basketball live betting scene as well!

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Are March Madness Brackets Legal?

March Madness brackets are perhaps the most common form of betting on the NCAA Tournament. They are completely legal in every state no matter if they have state-regulated sports betting or not. They can be done either with friends for cash prizes, or simply for fun. They could also be done in different, bigger groups as well which offer huge grand prizes. Other bracket tournaments are also found on legal sports betting sites such as BetOnline which holds a Sweet 16 bracket challenge every year.

March Madness

BetOnline Sweet 16 Bracket Challenge

BetOnline offers one of the biggest bracket challenges throughout March Madness. Want to double down on your bracket? Try your luck at the BetOnline Sweet 16 bracket contest. At only $25 per entry, signing up puts you in the running for a $75,000 grand prize. With a total payout of $250,000, the top 1,000 players see a cash prize – with no rollover. There is a 20-bracket limit, but the cost per entry decreases with each bracket filled out.

NCAA Tournament Futures Odds

Betting on the NCAA Tournament is done best when cashing in on futures bets. Sports betting fans can find relatively long odds on all the major teams before the tournament, giving ample time to lean in on the odds before the tournament begins. When betting, players will be able to see the highest return should an underdog win the whole thing.

March Madness Selection Criteria

The full March Madness bracket is revealed on CBS’s annual Selection Sunday show, which begins on Sunday, March 13, 2022 at 6 p.m. EST. Every Division I conference championship winner (32 total) earns an automatic bid to the tournament, while the other 36 at-large participants are selected by a 10-member committee, which is composed of athletic directors and conference commissioners from 10 different conferences. This committee is also responsible for seeding the bracket, designating regions, and determining matchups. There is a deal of mystery surrounding the process, which occurs behind closed doors, but we do know that the committee looks at a wide variety of factors when selecting at-large teams and seeding. Ranked by estimated importance, the primary factors for selection are:

  • Strength of record (win-loss record adjusted for strength of schedule)
  • Computer metrics and rankings
  • Subjective committee analysis (the “eye test”)
  • Record in true road games
  • Overall strength of schedule
  • Non Conference strength of schedule
  • Extenuating circumstances that might affect results (i.e., a suspension or injury to a star player)

The goal of the committee is to get the 36 best at-large teams into the field, regardless of which conference they play in or how big their national brand is. In recent years, the committee has also attempted to remove certain criteria that many perceived as unfair, including valuing end-of-season games more than games at the beginning of the year and showing favoritism toward teams with a weak strength of schedule and a good overall record. The only real concrete restriction remaining is that tournament teams must have a record above .500.

Legal March Madness Wager Types

Before you overwhelm yourself and worry just about brackets, you should also understand your wagering options for legal March Madness betting. The single-elimination tournament is known for the Cinderella story of a team who went further than anticipated, the top dog who gets booted too early, and the streaking team who can’t seem to lose. Furthermore, all of these can be gambled upon – it is just a matter of which style of betting you will participate in.

Betting On The Point Spread

Every game has a spread, which is the expected result for the difference in points at the end of the game. The favorite will have a minus symbol (-) before the number, while the underdog will have a plus symbol (+). Think of this as a starting point for the favorite or a boost to the underdog. Take this example:

Duke – 3
Tennessee +3

This signals that Duke is projected to win by three points according to oddsmakers and must win by 4 to cover the spread. Additionally, Tennessee is signaled to lose by three points and must win the game or lose by 1 or 2 points only. If the game ended as a three-point victory for Duke then this would be considered a “push”. In that case, all bets would be void and your wager would be returned.

Taking Action On The Moneyline

The most straight forward way to wager would be to bet on the moneyline. Moneyline betting is for sports bettors who are confident in a team winning the game but do not want to risk the bet by taking action on the number of points they will win by. Reading betting lines for March Madness moneyline betting is simple. The team with the lower number associated with their odds will be the favored team, while the team with the higher number will be the longshot. The odds also indicate the payout for the given wagers. For example, online sportsbooks show -150 for Gonzaga and +125 for Ohio State. Wagering on Gonzaga would need a bet of $150 to win $100 in profit, while those taking the longshot odds would only wager $100 to win $125 in profit.

Total Points Betting Options

Many times for basketball, the spreads can be difficult to determine because of last-second points. Likewise, game-winning shots can change the result in the last second. The speed of the game is another option you have when looking to legally bet on the NCAA Tournament by betting on the total points scored. Some basketball teams like to slow the pace and play every possession to the extent of the shot clock while others like to get a shot off as quick as possible. These styles of play make it easier to win money betting and determine trends in total points scored. For example, the University of Virginia has been known for slowing the pace down and holding teams to their lowest point production. In their games, the over/under may be a lower number than you see across the betting line board but it is up to you to determine the total points scored.

March Madness Betting Trends

#1 Seed Betting Trends

Itching to capitalize on a possible upset from the #16 seed? The odds may be high but the probability is extremely low. Throughout the entire history of March Madness, only one time has a number one seed lost in the first round (2018 when the Virginia Cavaliers lost to the UMBC Retrievers). All stats below are taken from when 16 seeds were added to the tournament in 1985.

  • #1 seeds are 147-1 against the 16 seed since they were added in 1985.
  • #1 seeds won two games 86% of the time, exiting the first weekend 2-0.
  • Only eight times have two #1 seeds have met in the Championship Game.
  • None of the #1 seeds made the Final Four in either 2006 or 2011.
  • Public data shows brackets average 1.8 #1 seeds in their Final Four.

#2 Seed Betting Trends

  • #2 seeds in the weakest #1 seed’s quadrant make the Final Four more often than the #1 seed.
  • The public averages one #2 seed in the Elite 8 every season and 0.5 #2s in the Final Four.

The 8 Vs. 9 Matchup

The eight and nine seeds are practically split over the last 30+ years of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. However, it is the next round where the data gets interesting. If winning the first round, 8 seeds have a 9.7% win rate to get to the Sweet 16. As for the 9s, they have a 4.9% win rate.

  • 9 seeds hold a slight advantage over 8 seeds, winning 50.7% of games since 1985.
  • One 8 seed has won the Tournament while five teams ranked eighth have made the Final Four.
  • Only one nine seed has made it to the Final Four, who ended up losing in the Championship.

How Many Upsets Happen Each March Madness?

If you are looking to capitalize on some longshot upsets during March Madness, it’s good to look at the tournament’s upset averages. When it comes to betting on the bracket, keep in mind that an annual average of 12.7 upsets happen each year during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The fewest upsets that occurred in March Madness was four in 2007 and the most being 19 in 2014.

Upsets Per Round In The Men’s Basketball Tournament

Round: Average Upsets:
Total Upsets 12.4
First Round 6.2
Second Round 3.7
Sweet 16 1.7
Elite Eight 0.5
Final Four 0.2

Betting On The Cinderella Team

A team ranked #7 to #11 is the best place to find a Cinderella team. In fact, in every year but two since 2011, the Final Fours have seen a #7-#11 seed make it.

  • 11 seeds are almost even against six seeds over the last decade.
  • #12s can dominate early on, but are 1-20 overall in the Sweet 16.

First Round Upset History

Matchup: # Of Upsets:
No. 10 seed over No. 7 seed 58
No. 11 seed over No. 6 seed 57
No. 12 seed over No. 5 seed 53
No. 13 seed over No. 4 seed 31
No. 14 seed over No. 3 seed 22
No. 15 seed over No. 2 seed 10
No. 16 seed over No. 1 seed 1

Second Round Upset History

Matchup: # Of Upsets:
6 seed vs. 3 seed 29
7 seed vs. 2 seed 26
10 seed vs. 2 seed 19
11 seed vs. 3 seed 18
8 seed vs. 1 seed 15
12 seed vs. 4 seed 13
9 seed vs. 1 seed 6
13 seed vs. 5 seed 3
14 seed vs. 6 seed 2
15 seed vs. 7 seed 3

Final Four Betting Trends

Look to make number 11 the mindset going into making a bracket or betting on March Madness. In the last few decades, the sum of the seeds in the Final Four has averaged 11 but the possibilities and combination of teams can be mind-boggling. Many look at KenPom rankings – which are a great indicator. However, if betting once the tournament has begun, look for teams that are doing well against the spread in the tournament.

NCAA Tournament Champions: ATS In Tournament:
2021 Baylor 5-1
2020 canceled
2019 Virginia 3-3
2018 Villanova 6-0
2017 UNC 3-2-1
2016 Villanova 6-0
2015 Duke 6-0
2014 UCONN 6-0
2013 Louisville 4-2
2012 Kentucky 4-1-1
2011 UCONN 5-1
2010 Duke 5-1

General NCAA Tournament Betting Trends

  • 1 Seeds have gone 22-12 in the National Championship game.
  • Seeds 4, 6, 7 and 8 all have one National Championship.
  • 5 seeds have made the National Championship three times and lost all three.
  • 15 seeds have only made the Sweet 16 one time.
  • 5 seeds have gone 7-2 in the Elite 8
  • Seeds 13-16 have never made the Elite 8.
  • 11 Seeds have gone 0-4 in the Final Four.
  • There are over 65,000 ways to fill out a bracket.
  • Teams that make their first National Championship often find themselves losing.
  • The Eastern time zone has claimed well over 90% of the last two decade’s championships.

The Effects Of Travel During The NCAA Tournament

An interesting thing sports bettors should note when looking to bet the over during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is how well teams fare when playing close to home. Teams that play closer to home end to play better offensively. Both underdog and the favorites that play closer to home are more likely to cover the spread according to MyBookie.

States With Legal March Madness Betting

States that have legal sports betting offer betting lines for the NCAA Tournament. Yet, specific rules against betting on college games can occur. This can include games played in or outside of the state, depending on the regulations. These rules vary as some even restrict prop betting on college basketball. Online sportsbooks serve as the counter to this problem. Those looking for a local book should check out the states with legal March Madness betting.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The state of Arkansas voted to allow sports betting in November 2018 through a mid-term amendment. Since then, two sportsbook licenses have been issued—both in Jefferson County. If you want to place a March Madness bet with a state-licensed operator in Arkansas, your two options are the Oaklawn and Southland casinos. State law doesn’t cover mobile or online sports gambling, but online books are available and legal for everyone in the region.

Colorado’s online sports betting was launched in May of 2020, and has been a success for the state so far. Colorado does not restrict collegiate betting, so bettors in CO can wager on March Madness to their heart’s content. Colorado has options for both commercial and online casinos, and bettors can peruse all their options in order to find out what the best way to wager on sports in CO is.

Delaware was the first state in the country to legalize sports betting, and actually had sports betting even prior to that, being exempt from PASPA, the law that kept sports betting illegal in the state. Delaware is a state that does not restrict its bettors from wagering on collegiate athletics, so in the context of March Madness, all the possible bets should be on the table in Delaware.

Illinois’s sports betting officially launched just in time for the 2020 edition of March Madness, which was canceled due to COVID-19. However, sports betting in Illinois is now in full effect and bettors can bet on the tournament as they please. Looking ahead to the 2022 tournament, bettors can bet on their favorite Illinois-based teams such as the Illinois Fighting Illini or the Loyola Chicago Ramblers.

of the games taking place inside the state. Intriguingly, Indiana does restrict some amateur athletics wagering, so there is no betting on anyone under the age of 18. There are also discretionary limits on live betting, which are up to the Indiana Gaming Commission. For March Madness, Indiana allowed most if not all of the major wagers.

Iowa’s online sportsbooks are some of the best in the nation, and have been live since 2019. Intriguingly, because of when they were legalized in 2019, and the cancellation of March Madness in 2020, the 2021 Tournament was the first March Madness that Iowa’s bettors will be able to wager on. Iowa’s online sportsbooks restrict live betting on collegiate athletics, so you can’t wager on teams while the ball is in play, which will impact March Madness betting in Iowa.

With the most sportsbook in the state behind New Jersey and Nevada, Mississippi boasts gambling all throughout their state. Whether you are on the Gulf near Biloxi, along the Mississippi River near Tunica or in the middle of the state near Pear River, there is always a place looking to take your action. Playing the odds at these casinos allow for a wonderful experience as they all have sportsbook lounges that you can enjoy watching the tournament games as well as placing bets. The state does allow for mobile betting but you are required to be on the casino grounds when placing your bet. The Beau Rivage and Gold Strike were the first two open sportsbooks in the state but Mississippi has nearly two dozen sportsbooks to choose from.

Montana has legalized sports betting via the SportsBet Montana app, as well as via a large number of betting kiosks that can be found across the state. Montana’s bettors can use the app and the kiosks in order to place wagers for 2022’s edition of the NCAA Tournament, AKA March Madness. Montana does not restrict wagering on collegiate athletics, so bettors in Montana will have access to the full range of bets for March Madness.

Considered the Mecca of gambling in the country, there are dozens upon dozens of options for betting on March Madness here. Check out the Westgate which offers some of the best betting lines out there and even has a separate window just for high rollers. There are many other options such as the Station Casinos who are hosts to seven different sportsbooks. Nearly all of the operators in Nevada have an online platform but will require you to be within state lines to place a bet. Any odds you are looking for can be found here as they will allow you to take action on nearly any aspect of the game and provide some of the best sportsbook lounges in the world.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s online sports betting was legalized in 2019, but there is a catch as far as March Madness goes. There is no betting allowed on in-state teams and in-state games. The second restriction is irrelevant this time around because the entire tournament will be taking place in Indiana, but the first restriction means that anyone who wants to bet on any team from NH will be unable to do so if they are in NH when placing that bet.

New Jersey
There are 12 sportsbooks in New Jersey with the majority of them being focused around Atlantic City. Whether you are on the boardwalk or further from the water, there are many betting options provided for the tournament. Away from AC is Monmouth Park which was the first New Jersey sportsbook to open. There is also the ability to enter into any of the 11 online sportsbooks that are offered by the New Jersey casinos, the most popular being the DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbooks, who both offer sign-up bonuses. These have some restrictions, as you must be located within New Jersey state lines for you to place a wager. Also, per state law, anytime a New Jersey team plays a game, there will be no betting lines offered on that game.

New Mexico
New Mexico is an interesting situation because they have not technically legalized sports betting in the state, but one casino still offers it. The Santa Ana Star, located just outside of Albuquerque, believed they had the right to offer this gaming style according to their compact with the state – even better, the state never fought back. This is the only casino that offers bets on March Madness but thankfully is centrally located in New Mexico. The sportsbook lounge in Santa Ana Star will provide a comfortable atmosphere for watching the games as well as answer any questions you may have about the venue or sports betting in general.

New York
New York has multiple casinos available, but they are not online, and are generally located upstate. With four commercial casinos and seven tribal casinos, New York’s sports bettors have options, but most of them involve travel. New York additionally restricts collegiate betting, so New Yorkers are unable to bet on college games within the state or games that involve teams from New York. This makes it tough to wager on March Madness in NY if you want to bet on any team from NY. All the other teams are on the table, though.

North Carolina
North Carolina became one of the states with legal sports betting just in time for 2021’s edition of March Madness. With the ease of placing wagers on the UNC Tarheels or Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina sports betting sites will host March Madness odds in many varieties. This is perhaps the ideal environment to do so in, with so many games being played at the same time.

Oregon’s online sportsbooks were launched in 2019, and there are multiple options for bettors in the state. They can use the tribal sportsbooks or they can use the state lottery if they wish to place wagers on sports. Oregon has no restrictions on collegiate wagering and should be a solid state for March Madness betting in 2022. With multiple options for wagering in the state, and no collegiate restrictions, there’s nothing to fear for Oregon sports bettors who wish to wager on the NCAA Tournament.

Pennsylvania has swiftly become one of the biggest betting markets in the entire country, and online sports bettors have a lot of options in PA. PA allows for multiple online sportsbooks, and has tons of different ones so that bettors can shop lines easily and find the best bets for March Madness. There are no March Madness betting restrictions in PA, which means that once again, bettors in PA are some of the luckiest bettors in the United States.

Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s sports betting industry was legalized in a very specific aspect – they have two commercial casinos at which you can wager, and they have established an enormous tax on the sportsbooks in question. However, their industry is still up and running, and they notably do not have any restrictions on collegiate sports betting, so March Madness bettors can find all of the odds at Rhode Island’s sportsbooks.

Tennessee’s sportsbooks went live in late 2020, and were a resounding success. Tennessee implemented a model of online sports betting with no retail sports betting, and it went off very well. March Madness is coming up, and Tennessee looks to be one of the very best states in the country in terms of online betting options on March Madness.

Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. bettors do have access to March Madness sports betting, but they’ll have to choose between the questionable vig at GamBet DC or traveling to their local sportsbooks at Capital One Arena. Many in DC instead opt to use online sportsbooks located outside of the US, which combine the convenience of GamBet with better odds, as GamBet is the only regulated game in town as far as online betting goes.

West Virginia
One of the most laid back states when it comes to legal sports betting is West Virginia. There are no restrictions on college sports betting and they even offer a mobile betting platform. You must be within state lines to submit any action; moreover, you can visit any of the racetracks or casinos that offer sports betting on the NCAA Tournament. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town is likely the most popular book in town but FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier has been making headlines. FanDuel accepts many deposit and withdrawal methods and even has betting lines on next years tournament already. Like we said, there is no shortage when it comes to betting options in West Virginia.

Legal March Madness Betting FAQs

Do Online Sportsbooks Offer Bonuses For March Madness?

Yes. Every site has its own bonuses and promotions for new and returning members. Most offer a welcoming bonus where they will match anywhere from 50-100% of your first deposit while others have reward programs where you can move the betting lines or have every deposit matched. Spend some time reviewing each licensed offshore sportsbook’s offers as one of them is bound to stand out as the best for your circumstances.

Are There Mobile Options For Betting On The Tournament?

As the March Madness Tournament is one of the biggest sports betting events of the year, there are definitely betting lines available for the major college basketball tournament. The best odds for the NCAA Men and Women Basketball Tournament are at online and mobile sportsbooks. You will be able to wager for every stage of the tournament including the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4, and the ultimate championship game. As these games are done in a one-and-done system, making mobile bets on the March Madness Tournament is a great way to cash in on underdog bets and cinderella stories throughout the March Madness Tournament.

How Can I Live Bet On March Madness?

Live in-play betting allows you to play the odds after the game has started. Betting lines and odds change drastically during the game so you must be quick with your choices. Bettors can access live betting during March Madness, although with some states making rules against it, it might be best to stick to offshore sportsbooks for all your March Madness live betting needs.

How Can I Watch March Madness?

Those that bet on March Madness games will want to watch how their wagers play out. There are a few different avenues that bettors can go about this. Every single game will be broadcast by either CBS, TBS, truTV, or TNT. If you have a cable package but don’t have access to a TV you can always use the site or app known as March Madness Live. However, if you don’t have access to cable at all, there are several other ways to stream the games. The most popular services to handle that would be Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, and of course fuboTV.