Now that single-game betting is here to stay in Canada, basketball fans can see March Madness betting in a new light as the door opens to a massive number of game-to-game betting odds.
Here’s how to bet on the NCAA Tournament online in Canada including live March Madness odds direct from Canadian online sportsbooks.
Latest March Madness Odds
During March Madness you’ll see live game lines posted below. In advance of the tournament you’ll find futures odds to bet on team to win the Championship or make the Final Four. Click on any odds to go directly to the sportsbook, open a betting account and bet that game or futures.
How to read March Madness odds
Filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket is fun, but making single-game bets throughout the tournament gives you a much better chance to earn a profit.
Placing single-game bets on NCAA Tournament games is exactly like betting on college basketball in the regular season; the only difference is that now every team is playing in a one-and-done tournament. And there are many more betting odds available.
Here’s an example from DraftKings Sportsbook in Canada that shows the type of bets you’ll find.
March Madness Moneylines
Moneylines (ML) are both the most popular bets and the easiest to understand. A moneyline wager simply involves picking which side will win the game, regardless of the score.
To calculate how much you stand to win or lose when betting moneylines, it helps to look at things relative to the number 100. The favourite has a negative line, and taking this team means risking what the moneyline says to win $100. A moneyline bet on Baylor (-225) means risking $225 to win $100.
The underdog carries a positive line, which represents the amount you can win with a $100 stake. So wagering on Houston (+185) requires a $100 risk to win $185 in profit.
March Madness Point spreads
The point spread is a number set by oddsmakers that tells bettors exactly how much a team can win or lose by and still yield a successful wager. Think of it like a hypothetical number you add or subtract from a team’s score at the end of a game. After applying the point spread, does the team you selected win?
If so, the profit is yours. To understand the potential wins and losses, you must use the betting line that accompanies the spread. From there, the math is done the same way as a moneyline wager.
The favourite is identified by the negative symbol next to its odds and needs to win by more than the amount on the point spread in order to “cover” the number. Taking Baylor at -5 (-107) means risking $107 to win $100 and needing them to win by six or more points. The underdog has a positive sign next to its odds and can win the game or lose by less than the spread to cash your ticket. Taking Houston +5 (-113) requires a $113 risk to win $100 and to win the bet, Houston must lose by four points or less if they don’t win outright.
If the favourite wins by the exact same amount as the point spread, the wager is a push. Then, your original stake will be returned to the account balance.
March Madness Totals
Totals, also called over/unders, are well known but sometimes don’t get the attention they deserve. When most are focused on moneylines and spreads, look toward totals to find value or just take a different angle on a game.
All that’s required when betting on over/unders is picking whether the combined score of the game will go over or under a predetermined number of points that oddsmakers set. Similar to a point spread, the total is accompanied by a betting line that is used to determine how much you stand to win or lose.
Using our example, an over bet on the total of 134.5 (-113) means risking $113 to win $100 on there being 135 or more points scored. An under bet on 134.5 (-107) needs 134 or fewer total points to win, and it’s going to cost $107 to win $100.
March Madness prop bets
Props are extremely popular all over the world. It’s no different at Canadian online sportsbooks. A prop is essentially any bet that isn’t a conventional full-game moneyline, spread or total. Most props (not all) are not directly tied to the outcome of the game and instead delve into more individual aspects of the game.
Most of these bets can be broken down into three categories: player props, team props and game props. There are a limited number of prop betting odds available throughout the regular season, but once the NCAA Tournament arrives, sportsbooks add various betting options for every single game. Here are some common examples of March Madness prop bets:
- Team Totals (Halves & Full Game)
- 1st/2nd Half Moneyline, Spread, & Total
- Quarters Moneyline, Spread, & Total
- Alternate Spreads & Totals
- Player Total Points, Total Rebounds & Total Assists
- Player Total 3-Point Field Goals
- Player Points + Rebounds + Assists
March Madness live betting
Like props, live betting (also known as in-game or in-play betting) has exploded in popularity thanks to the growth of online sportsbooks. Live betting is available throughout the college basketball season, but not every game is available. However, during March Madness, that is no longer the case.
For every single NCAA Tournament contest, sportsbooks are continuously updating in-game odds based on the action. From the opening tip until deep in the second half, you can bet a live moneyline, spread or total. Once the Final Four arrives, there are even live lines available for certain props.
Betting on season-long March Madness futures
Futures betting is exactly what the name suggests: wagering on something that will be settled down the road. Rather than having your bet won or lost in a matter of hours, futures can take weeks or months to settle.
Thanks to futures betting, you don’t need to wait until the NCAA Tournament arrives to place certain wagers. Throughout the course of the college basketball season, many online sportsbooks offer odds on several markets and continue to update the odds as we inch closer to March. The most popular are the following:
- No. 1 Seeds
- How Many Tournament Teams From X Conference? (Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, ACC, SEC, etc.)
- To Reach Final Four (Region Winner)
- NCAA Tournament Champion
- Which Conference Will Win The National Championship?
Most of these bets will be difficult to win. Obviously, there is still so much basketball to be played before conference tournaments take place and the bracket is released. With that said, trying your hand at college basketball futures early in the season can be more profitable than waiting. If you place your bets early enough, even some of the biggest favourites will have lucrative March Madness odds for markets such as reaching the Final Four and winning the national title. Once the bracket is out and potential March Madness matchups are known to everyone, value typically shrinks.
March Madness pre-tournament futures
While there are some markets to take advantage of throughout the season, others don’t pop up until Selection Sunday, when the official bracket is released. Once each team is given its seed and region, sportsbooks respond with a huge range of futures betting options for the upcoming tournament, including the below market from BetMGM Sportsbook.
The variety here is amazing. And as is the case with other major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl or College Football Playoff, the betting options get very deep and specific. Here is some of what you will come across at Canadian online sportsbooks in the days between the release of the bracket and the tournament start.
- To Reach Sweet 16 (Yes/No For Each Team)
- To Reach Elite Eight (Yes/No For Each Team)
- Total No. 1 Seeds In The Final Four
- Total Wins By Seed In NCAA Tournament
- Highest Seed To Reach Final Four
- Which Seed Number Will Win The National Championship?
Some markets cover the entire tournament and take weeks to settle. Others cover only a couple of rounds and take just a few days. The main attraction to some of these options is how they create rooting interests for longer than just the length of one game. It’s often exciting to make some long-term plays and watch the action unfold throughout several rounds. Many of these options, including picking a champion by seed and the total wins by a specific seed number, also give you several teams to root for at one time.
The rule of thumb for futures bets on March Madness is fairly clear: the deeper into the tournament you go, the longer the odds. Picking a team to reach the Sweet 16 pays less than the Elite Eight. Betting on a team to reach the Final Four pays higher than both of those. Finally, picking a national champion comes with the highest odds of all.
Best March Madness bets
March Madness is definitely full of surprises, but there are a few things bettors can do to give themselves the best possible chance at coming out on top. Consider the following types of bets on the NCAA Tournament, as all have led to relative success.
- No. 1, 2 or 3 Seed to Win Championship: For all its madness, the cream rises to the top in March. The tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Since then, over 60 percent of the champions have been No. 1 seeds. Almost 90 percent of champions have been No. 1, 2, or 3 seeds. History tends to repeat itself, especially when it comes to top seeds winning the “Big Dance.”
- Two or More No. 1 Seeds in Final Four: One of the futures options leading up to the tournament is how many top seeds reach the Final Four. While there are always some huge upsets waiting in the earlier rounds, go with two or more out of the four No. 1 seeds to cut down nets after the regional final. Since the field expanded to 64 teams, two or more No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four over 50 percent of the time. Sportsbooks present this market in different ways, so if it looks like an over-under, go with Over 1.5. If forced to pick an exact number, we’d go with two.
- Underdogs in Early Rounds: This tournament is known for its upsets, especially in the early rounds. That means underdogs are live, both on the moneyline and against the spread. The betting public also tends to lean toward favourites, especially when it’s a high-profile school. That could provide extra value on the underdog as well. The key is to look for reverse line movement, which takes place when the line moves against the side the public is on. It’s usually an indication that sharp (professional) bettors are on the opposite side. That’s where you’d rather be also.
- Quality and/or Exploitable Road Teams: There are plenty of college basketball teams that dominate on their home floors but have trouble replicating that success once they leave their gyms. NCAA Tournament games are played at neutral sites. While those are’t exactly true road games, they aren’t home games either. Teams that can’t win on the road may struggle in the unfamiliar territory.
Worst March Madness bets
There are two sides to every coin, so watch out for the following Big Dance pitfalls when placing your March Madness online bets.
- Moneyline bets on heavy favourites: This goes especially for the early rounds. We’ve already established that upsets are plentiful during March Madness. Going big on the moneyline for heavy favourites may seem safe, but it’s actually pretty dangerous. You’re forced to risk much more for a decent profit, and picking the big favourite in one of those upset games can really set back the bankroll. Instead, consider parlaying a couple of those heavy favourites together for a better payout.
- Low and middle seeds to win it all: As we mentioned above, it’s extremely rare that any seed lower than No. 3 actually wins the title. It can be fun to look at the March Madness betting odds for some major long shots, sure. Even though the potential reward is handsome, it’s more likely than not that you’re just throwing money away.
- Taking the Over in a football stadium: Nowadays, some NCAA Tournament games are played in football stadiums rather than basketball arenas. This usually doesn’t happen until later in the tournament, but when it does, too many bettors don’t take notice. Surroundings are important in basketball because shooting in a regular gym or arena is not the same as shooting in a cavernous football stadium. The sight lines are different, and it can take some time for offenses to adjust. These games tend to go under, and taking the over is a rookie betting mistake.
March Madness bracket contests
The NCAA Tournament is obviously well known for its bracket-style format, which lends itself to everyone filling out their own and competing to see who can do the best prognosticating. In these contests, each correct pick is worth certain points, and the bracket with the most points after the Final Four is declared the winner.
In addition to the bracket pool you may be in with your family, friends or co-workers, online sportsbooks also host March Madness contests based on the bracket. Some are completely free to enter, while others require an entry fee. It should come as no surprise that the contests with entry fees have much more attractive and lucrative prizes.
The positive side of sticking to bracket contests is that you pay only one fee for the chance to win much more money. The downside is that you can have a great bracket but still lose if someone has a better one. That makes these contests tough to win. With single-game betting, you have a better chance at winning something for your correct picks.