4 Steps on How to Bet on NCAA College Basketball and March Madness

NCAA Logo, Basketball, Pile of Money, Checklist
Gambling on college basketball is largely overlooked before the tournament rolls around, good thing it is March and March Madness 2020 is right around the corner. With an endless amount of games and relatively low action on most, the league presents a unique opportunity to make money if you know what you’re doing.

It’s no surprise that college basketball, isn’t as popular as betting on college football. Basketball experiences the highest roster turnover rate, the start of the season is right when the playoff push is happening in football, and each year, it seems like the same 10 teams are at the top.

Although college basketball will never catch the public’s attention (or betting action) in the same way the NFL or college football does, there’s a great deal of untapped potential for the average bettor.

For example, with March Madness 2020 soon approaching, bettors have begun mapping out their bets. If you plan on betting on this year’s season, be sure to check out our tips on how to bet on March Madness.

March Madness Betting

The key to making good decisions is having good information, and that starts with knowing what to look for when evaluating a play. It’s crucial to know which aspects of a game have a real impact on the outcome and which components of a matchup you should be careful not to overvalue.

After all, sportsbooks have their formula for determining where a line will start, and what factors contribute to the odds. Most likely, you don’t have such technology at your disposal, so it’s imperative to come up with a system of your own.

Each bettor’s list will vary slightly, but in this article I’ll lay out the top considerations to examine before betting on March Madness 2020 or any NCAA basketball game.

1 – Schedule (Especially ATS)

Regardless of the sport you’re betting on, a look back at each team’s schedule should be the first step in making your decision. A wealth of information is available, and more often than not, you’ll learn that you really didn’t know as much as you thought about the two teams competing.

Assuming you’re betting on teams that have some sort of reputation in college basketball, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming they’re at the same level year in and year out. A quick glance back at the schedule can show where a team’s weaknesses lie.

It might be the case that much more data is available later in the season when it comes to looking at the schedule, but you’ll also probably know more about the team.

In the early going, with a roster that probably has only one or two (if that) starters from the previous year, it becomes increasingly important to see how a team is performing in the current season.

Even college basketball’s “blue bloods” undergo a bit of a learning phase during the first month or two of the season. You might be surprised to learn a top-ranked team has had some wins that weren’t so convincing.

Another reason it’s important to look at the schedule by team is due to the deceptiveness of the overall record. You might notice, for example, Kansas is 11-0 heading into December. Although they might be undefeated, a closer look at their schedule might show you that they’re actually 3-8 against the spread even with several double-digit wins.

The schedule doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, but you can learn a great deal of information that can be useful when betting on March Madness 2020.

2 – Team Motivation in the NCAA

Numbers and data always provide valuable insight, but players (especially 18 to 20-year-olds) are human beings who play differently based on motivation. It might not be clear in every instance, but many times, one team has a clear edge in motivation over their opponent. When you get to the March Madness tournament, everyone should be motivated so this really only counts for regular season NCAA college basketball games.

Let me be clear, motivation itself is usually not a reason to choose one team over another, but in the event that you’re stuck between your two options, it can be a great thing to consider. It’s also important to remember that if you aren’t able to guess with reasonable certainty who has the upper hand in motivation, it’s probably less reliable to use it as a determining factor.

Some things to look for that might indicate a team will be giving extra effort include playoff implications, rivalry games, performance in the previous game, and the result the last time the two teams played.

March Madness Basketball Tournament

Late in the season, teams on the bubble of making the NCAA March Madness tournament realize they don’t only need to win games, but they need to look impressive doing it. This might be a case where it’s smart to take the favorite who has a real interest in piling on the points to help their tournament chances.

On the other hand, rivalry games can be a good time to choose the underdog. As a sports fan, you’re probably already aware, but in big rivalries, the games are often close regardless of the talent level between the two teams. If an underdog is receiving a high number of points, it’s worth taking the risk.

Some bettors use the home team bias strategy when it comes to wagering. While it works for some, I would be wary about always betting on your favorite team solely because they are your favorite.

The last motivation piece I’ll touch on has to do with the result of the game that the two teams last played. For example, if the lesser of the two teams won the first game, expect the favorite to cover this time. A certain pride element exists when upsets happen, and the better team typically does everything in their power to ensure it doesn’t happen again the next time around.

3 – The Next NCAA Game

This one could technically be put in the “schedule” section, but it refers to the future rather than the past. Also, it could fall under the umbrella of “motivation,” so it seemed like the right move to have it as its own category.

Most sports fans, and especially sports gamblers, are familiar with the concept of a “trap” game. A trap game is the contest that gets overlooked when a good team is playing another good team in the following game.

When it comes to March Madness, an example of a trap game would be an early tournament matchup where a higher-seeded team could take a lower-seeded team too lightly and get bounced out of the tournament.

It probably won’t be so significant that they’ll lose outright, but this is another instance where choosing the underdog should be beneficial.

While we expect pro athletes to be able to focus on the game at hand, college athletes have proven to be more likely to overlook a weaker opponent when a big game is looming. Beware when taking favorites if the team has the following game circled on its calendar.

4 – College Basketball Rosters

As I mentioned previously, and as you’re probably aware, rosters experience a great deal of turnover when it comes to the top teams in the country. Any time a team has multiple starters either graduating or leaving for the NBA, you can expect team chemistry to be impacted in the early going. After March Madness, you can expect the same thing to happen.

Early in the season, be sure to take a look at a team’s roster to see how many starters they’re returning from the previous year. Even the best programs in the country have a tendency to start slow, as new players learn how to play with one another. By the time March Madness rolls around, they should have all this figured out.

Live Duke NCAA Basketball Game

To take it a step further, most mid-major teams don’t lose players to the draft, and the turnover in the starting lineup usually isn’t nearly as significant. This can lead to much closer games than the betting public expects.


When it comes to betting on sports, there’s a great deal of money to be made where others are looking away. If you put in the necessary time to research the criteria laid out above, you can end up with a few extra dollars in your bankroll by the time the tournament rolls around.

Just be sure to avoid the common basketball betting mistakes many bettors make. Avoiding these mistakes will take your March Madness bets further and hopefully, will earn you a big betting win.