• Selection Sunday will take place this Sunday to find out who has made it into the 2021 March Madness Tournament.
  • Gonzaga are currently undefeated and have taken in roughly 27% of the total betting handle at DraftKings to win the entire tournament.
  • This will be the first year that states such as Colorado, Michigan, Illinois and Virginia will be able to offer March Madness odds.

INDIANAPOLIS – It’s March and the Madness has started. Nothing is more evident of that than college basketball conference tournaments coming to a close.

With Selection Sunday coming this Sunday, sports bettors are already laying down some dollars on who will win the 2021 NCAA Men’s College Basketball National Championship. While some of the biggest brand names in the sport might be out, there is still plenty of quality college basketball betting opportunities to be had.

With this in mind, LegalSportsBetting got a chance to talk with Johnny Avello, Head of Sportsbook at DraftKings, about March Madness betting this year.

Will The Absence of Blue Bloods Affect March Madness Betting?

One of the glaring factors seen in this year’s tournament is the absence of traditional powers in the sport such as the Duke Blue Devils and Kentucky Wildcats.

While the Duke had its season cut short due to COVID-19, Kentucky has simply looked abysmal all year finishing with a record of 9-16.

Both programs have fans that extend out of their home state an in states with legal sports betting. But, Avello is of the “show must go on” mindset when it comes to the absence of some of the biggest brands in college basketball.

“I don’t think anything is bigger than the tournament itself… I think that there are teams positioned here to take over the fans and new teams to root for like Gonzaga who have been in the tournament for a very long time and they haven’t won anything but they’re undefeated and there is a team like Baylor and Michigan making a nice run and you still have the Ohio State and the Kansases. So, a lot of the name brands are still there. I don’t think it’s going to hurt the tournament as far as handle is concerned,” said Avello.

As of right now, the Gonzaga Bulldogs is the number one ranked team in the country and have an undefeated record of 26-0. The Baylor Bears, Illinois Fighting Illini, and the Michigan Wolverines round out the top four ranked teams.

But is there any value in betting on these big dogs?

March Madness Value Betting

There are 64 teams that play in the March Madness tournament each year which means bettors have choices as to who to bet on to win the entire tournament. However, most stick to the higher seeds and for good reason.

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 47% of the championship games featured at least one No. 1 seed. Eight of those championship games featured two number one seeds. But, betting on their futures odds at this point may not give the best bang for a bettor’s buck.

“If you’re betting futures bets right now there is certainly no value in Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, none whatsoever,” said Avello. “Gonzaga has been under 3/1 now for a month. You could’ve gotten them a little higher earlier in the season, we got quite a bit of money on them ourselves. We got 27% of our handle is on Gonzaga. At this shorter price not taking as much money on them. I would say you could probably bet them on the moneyline each and every game and be better off than just 5/2.”

Official seeding will be determined on Selection Sunday. Programming for that event will begin on March 14, at 6 p.m. EST on CBS.

How Betting On The 2021 March Madness Tournament Is Unique

Two major differences are going to be seen in this year’s tournament that could directly affect how bettors put action on teams.

The first of which comes from seeding itself. During the regular season, many games across the country were canceled due to COVID-19 safety protocols. This has caused some teams to play significantly more games than others.

Some teams will inevitably be seeded higher because they played more games, but the team with fewer games could have a better winning percentage. Or vice versa, a team could have played fewer games an get seeded higher but the experience of the lower seed may come in clutch during the tournament.

“The question is if the teams played a little more games would they be tighter than they would be going in playing less games? That is probably a point that bettors will navigate through knowing that there may be something there. That’s something I will certainly keep my eye on too,” said Avello.

The other major factor comes from the fact that the tournament will be played entirely in Indiana. While tournaments in the past usually regionalize the early parts of the tournament, this year’s setup could be beneficial for certain teams.

“The only team that I can see might benefit would be teams like Purdue for sure, and maybe all of the Big 10. Teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Wisconsin. They could all benefit because normally you get shipped to out West or East but the tournament is going to take place in close proximity to where they are. That might help them initially in the first round or two. After that I’m not so sure because the other teams will also be settled in at that point,” said Avello.

New Bettors Will Join The Madness

This year will feature more people betting on March Madness than ever before simply due to the fact that there are more states with legal sportsbooks than ever.

Many people will be betting on the NCAA tournament for the first time which means they will need some crucial advice. Avello had a couple of key insights for first-time bettors.

“I would say, you want to bet on your home team and you want them to win but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you need to make a bet. You have to look at everything. Whether it’s the first half, second half, in-game, on totals, player props, pools, look around and try to find the best value you can.”

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