68 Betting Tips for the NCAA Tournament

68 teams. 68 betting notes. From No. 1 Gonzaga through to No. 68 Appalachian State, we'll help you make smarter March Madness wagers.

Posted: Mar 16, 2021 10:11 AM ET Updated: Mar 16, 2021 10:11 AM ET
Jalen Suggs Gonzaga Bulldogs NCAA March Madness
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Are you ready for a little March Madness?   

As always, let's kick this off with just how difficult it is for a low seed to make a run in NCAA Tournament betting: Only one 16-seed has ever knocked off a No. 1 seed in the opening round, nine teams seeded 13th or worse have survived the opening weekend as March Madness picks, and just one team seeded No. 12 or lower has lasted to the Elite Eight.

As for the famed Final Four? Only five double-digit seeds - most recently Loyola-Chicago as a No. 11 in 2018 - have ever made it that far.

Now that you're well versed in the history of longshots, let's examine one key betting note for all 68 teams in the tournament:

Betting notes for March Madness 2021

No. 1 seeds

Illinois (23-6 SU, 19-10 ATS, 16-12-1 O/U): The Illini are primed for a deep March Madness run – but if any games come down to performance from the line, they could be in trouble. Illinois ranks 228th nationally in free-throw success rate (69.1 percent), the lowest of any team with a Top-4 seed. 

Baylor (22-2 SU, 15-9 ATS, 15-9 O/U): Sure, the Bears lost just twice all season, but those two defeats provided good insight into how to beat Baylor: Make them miss from deep. The Bears led Division I with a 41.9-percent success rate from 3-point range, but shot just 27.2 percent in their two losses.

Michigan (20-4 SU, 17-7 ATS, 9-15 O/U): Don't be scared off by large spreads if you're thinking about banking on the Wolverines. They went 6-1 ATS when favored by double digits this season, and are an incredible 10-1 over their last 11 when giving 10 or more points since November 2019.

Gonzaga (26-0 SU, 12-12-2 ATS, 14-12 O/U): The Bulldogs are still looking for that elusive first NCAA Tournament title – but bettors would just love to see them hit some covers. Gonzaga is 4-9-1 ATS in its last 14 tournament games, including three losses as a favorite of four or more points.

No. 2 seeds

Ohio State (21-9 SU, 17-12-1 ATS, 17-12-1 O/U): Some teams will have to worry about losing close games at the free-throw line – but the Buckeyes likely won't be on that list. They rank 32nd in success rate from the strip (76.3 percent) while finishing fourth in Division I in total attempts (646).

Houston (24-3 SU, 19-8 ATS, 14-13 O/U): The Cougars have made life positively miserable for opposing offenses, heading into the NCAA Tournament having allowed a Division I-low 37 percent field goal success rate. They also rank second overall in average scoring margin (plus-19.5).

Alabama (24-6 SU, 17-12-1 ATS, 14-16 O/U): Plenty of tournament participants will live and die from beyond the arc – but few are as reliant as the Crimson Tide, who have taken a whopping 912 shots from deep this season – nearly 100 more than the next-closest team. Their 312 makes also lead the country.

Iowa (21-8 SU, 15-13-1 ATS, 14-15 O/U): Superstar big man Luka Garza gets most of the attention for the Hawkeyes, but don't sleep on this team's guard play. The Hawkeyes average an NCAA-best 19.1 assists for the season, while boasting the nation's best assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.01.

No. 3 seeds

Arkansas (22-6 SU, 18-9 ATS, 14-12-1 O/U): There could be plenty of scoring in Arkansas' NCAA Tournament games thanks largely to the Razorbacks' break-neck pace. Arkansas averages 77.1 possessions per game, 11th-most in the NCAA, while allowing more than 61 opposition shots per game. 

West Virginia (18-9 SU, 13-14 ATS, 18-9 O/U): How do you overcome an effective field-goal percentage ranked outside the Top 200? By giving yourself plenty of second chances – and that's how the Mountaineers roll, entering the NCAA Tournament with the fifth-most offensive rebounds per game (13.6).

Kansas (20-8 SU, 14-12-1 ATS, 12-14-1 O/U): Something about March Madness brings out the best in the Jayhawks' offense – and the worst in their defense. They're 8-3 O/U in their last 11 NCAA Tournament games dating back to 2017, despite seeing totals north of 150 in five of those contests.

Texas (19-7 SU, 12-13-1 ATS, 16-10 O/U): Discipline could be a major issue for the Longhorns entering the NCAA Tournament. They're allowing opponents to shoot an average of 21.3 free throws per game (300th in the country) and are fortunate that those foes have only made good at a 68.1-percent clip so far.

No. 4 seeds

Oklahoma State (20-8 SU, 17-10-1 ATS, 17-9-2 O/U): This Big 12 team secured a No. 4 seed despite being the underdog in 16 of its first 28 games. And the Cowboys made good on those opportunities, going 12-4 as a 'dog this season (compared with a 5-6-1 ATS mark as a favorite).

Purdue (18-9 SU, 14-11-2 ATS, 14-13 O/U): The Boilermakers have traditionally ratcheted up the offense come NCAA Tournament time – and their opponents have followed suit. Purdue is 10-2 O/U in its last 12 tournament games, with seven of those Overs surpassing the total by 10-plus points.

Florida State (16-6 SU, 11-9-2 ATS, 14-7-1 O/U): Searching for a team riding a current O/U heater? Look no further than the Seminoles, who are 11-2-1 O/U in their past 14 games. That trend runs counter to their recent NCAA Tournament history, with just two Overs in their past seven March Madness games.

Virginia (18-6 SU, 11-12-1 ATS, 14-10 O/U): It isn't just that shocking loss to UMBC in 2018 that should have you wary of backing the Cavaliers. They're a dismal 1-6 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games when favored by five or more points, with two outright losses (including...you know).

No. 5 seeds

Tennessee (18-8 SU, 14-12 ATS, 11-15 O/U): The Vols have excelled at creating additional scoring opportunities for themselves – and limiting their opponents' chances in the process. Tennessee has forced a turnover on 20 percent of opponent possessions this season, good for 19th in the country.

Villanova (16-6 SU, 12-10 ATS, 12-10 O/U): Speaking of teams winning the TO battle, the Wildcats made a living out of that practice during the 2020-21 season. Villanova lost the turnover battle just twice in 22 games (with one tie), averaging just 9.0 turnovers per game (second fewest in Division I).

Colorado (22-8 SU, 17-13 ATS, 12-18 O/U): If the Buffaloes can get to the foul line with any regularity, watch out. Colorado might be a one-trick pony, but it's a really impressive trick, as it ranks second in the country in free-throw shooting (82.2 percent). The Buffaloes are also 66th in attempts (510).

Creighton (20-8 SU, 13-15 ATS, 13-14-1 O/U): Unlike Colorado, the Bluejays would probably prefer to stay off the line thanks to one of the strangest trends in the country. Creighton ranks inside the Top 50 in overall shooting percentage (47.6) and 3-point success rate (36.7) but is 329th in free-throw shooting (64.2 percent).

No. 6 seeds

Texas Tech (17-10 SU, 10-17 ATS, 12-15 O/U): The Red Raiders give themselves plenty of opportunities for extra possessions, which should serve them well in the NCAA Tournament. Texas Tech ranks fourth in average turnover margin (plus-5.1), and 27th in offensive rebound rate (32.2 percent).

San Diego State (23-4 SU, 14-12 ATS, 14-12 O/U): This one will play well with you first-half bettors: The Aztecs were one of the top teams in the country prior to the break, ranking just outside the Top 60 in first-half scoring (36.0 points per game) while placing fourth in the country in 1H scoring defense (27.2).

USC (22-7 SU, 16-13 ATS, 15-14 O/U): If season trends hold, the Trojans will almost certainly dare opponents to beat them from beyond the arc at the NCAA Tournament. USC has held foes to a 42.2-percent shooting rate on two-point attempts, the second-lowest mark in the country.

BYU (20-6 SU, 14-8-3 ATS, 12-12-1 O/U): Being a consistently good road cover is not easy – but the West Coast Conference produced three teams this year that had cover rates of 67 percent or better on the road. The Cougars led the way with an incredible 7-1-1 ATS mark away from the Marriott Center.

No. 7 seeds

Florida (14-9 SU, 10-13 ATS, 10-12-1 O/U): The Gators have been terrific betting options in their NCAA Tournament openers over the previous decade, having gone a perfect 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS. Their lone non-cover in that span? A 67-55 win over Albany as a 21.5-point favorite in 2014.

Clemson (16-7 SU, 11-11-1 ATS, 11-11-1 O/U): The Tigers won't be mistaken for Baylor or Gonzaga from an offensive standpoint, but it wouldn't kill them to get to the free-throw line. Clemson attempted just 298 foul shots in 23 games this season, good for an average of 13.0 (which ranks 342nd overall).

UConn (15-7 SU, 16-6 ATS, 11-11 O/U): The Huskies were a bettor's dream in 2020-21 – except for when they were matched up against elite competition. UConn went 0-4 SU and 2-2 ATS in four games against ranked teams this season, and were 15-3 SU and 14-4 ATS against everyone else.

Oregon (20-6 SU, 14-12 ATS, 17-9 O/U): Win or lose, you'll have a hard finding a better historic cover option than the Ducks. Oregon has gone a perfect 6-0 ATS in its last six NCAA Tournament games and has one of the best cover records of any team over the past eight years at a sizzling 15-4.

No. 8 seeds

Loyola-Chicago (24-4 SU, 16-9-1 ATS, 12-14 O/U): The 3-pointer might be the hottest thing going, but there's still plenty of value in layups and mid-range jumpers. And few teams are better in that area than the Ramblers, who enter the NCAA tournament ranked fourth in the nation in 2-point shooting (58.0 percent).

North Carolina (18-10 SU, 13-13-2 ATS, 13-15 O/U): Playing on neutral ground could be just the thing to invigorate the inconsistent Tar Heels entering March Madness. While they were a dismal 2-8 ATS in 10 true road games, they posted an impressive 4-1-2 mark in seven neutral-site games this season.

LSU (18-9 SU, 14-13 ATS, 17-10 O/U): Looking for some live bet guidance? Consider the Over on the second-half total of any LSU game. The Tigers not only average 42.4 second-half points per game (12th in the country), they're allowing a whopping 39.9 themselves (good for 305th overall).

Oklahoma (15-10 SU, 12-12-1 ATS, 11-14 O/U): The Sooners are the answer to the question: "Which team has the longest ATS losing streak entering the NCAA Tournament?" Oklahoma has failed to cover in seven straight and is also just 5-10-1 ATS as a fave compared with 7-2 ATS as a dog.

No. 9 seeds

Georgia Tech (17-8 SU, 15-10 ATS, 14-10-1 O/U): When you have a deficiency as large as the Yellow Jackets' board work – they rank 284th in the country in rebounding margin – you'd better have an ace up your sleeve. And Georgia Tech certainly does, ranking sixth in steals (9.2) and eighth in turnover margin (4.8).

Wisconsin (17-12 SU, 13-15-1 ATS, 14-15 O/U): While most people were happy to bid farewell to 2020, the new year hasn't exactly been kind to the Badgers. They've struggled mightily against elite competition since the calendar flipped to 2021, going 0-9 SU and 1-7-1 ATS in nine games vs. ranked opponents.

St. Bonaventure (16-4 SU, 13-5-2 ATS, 6-14 O/U): Are the Bonnies this year's best "Under/Cover" option? They certainly fit that bill during the season. In addition to converting five straight cover/Under combos earlier in the year, they come into March Madness having gone 6-1-1 ATS and 2-6 O/U in their last eight.

Missouri (16-9 SU, 12-13 ATS, 13-10-2 O/U): The Tigers' cover-less streak at the NCAA Tournament has lasted more than a decade. Missouri is a dismal 0-5 SU and ATS in its previous five tournament appearances dating back to the 2010 event, including an 86-84 loss to Norfolk State as a 21-point favorite in 2012.

No. 10 seeds

Virginia Tech (15-6 SU, 11-10 ATS, 11-9-1 O/U): Every NCAA Tournament team has had to deal with a schedule disruption of some sort – but the Hokies are in a zone all their own. Their tournament opener will mark just their fourth game in 41 days, the fewest of any March Madness entrants over that span.

Rutgers (15-11 SU, 13-12-1 ATS, 12-14 O/U): Don't expect to see the Scarlet Knights win an NCAA Tournament game at the free-throw line. Not only does Rutgers rank 329th in the nation in success rate at 63.2 percent, it has attempted just over 16 foul shots per game (ranking just inside the Top 300).

Maryland (16-13 SU, 12-16 ATS, 11-16-1 O/U): A lack of extra possessions could make the Terrapins' stay in Indianapolis a short one. Maryland comes in ranked near the bottom of the nation in offensive rebounds per game (5.8, 327th) and OReb% (19.6, 320th), and forces just 11.1 turnovers per outing (312th).

VCU (19-7 SU, 14-11-1 ATS, 10-16 O/U): Sometimes, it's the little things that make a big difference come tournament time – and the Rams do them better than just about anyone, ranked fifth in Division I in steals per game (9.2) and fifth in blocked shots (5.4). Their 14.6 "stocks" per game lead the country.

No. 11 seeds

Utah State (20-8 SU, 16-11 ATS, 11-16 O/U): The Aggies are a force on the boards, and that could help them pull off an upset or two at the NCAA Tournament. Utah State boasts the No. 2 rebound margin in the nation at plus-10.3, ranking 11th in OReb% at 34.6 and sixth in DReb% at 80.7.

Syracuse (16-9 SU, 12-13 ATS, 13-12 O/U): The Orange might be a lower seed, but they come into the NCAA Tournament with plenty of momentum. Syracuse has gone an incredible 8-2 ATS in its last 10 March Madness games, including five victories as outright underdogs over that span.

Drake (25-4 SU, 21-6 ATS, 17-10 O/U): The top ATS team in the nation might generate plenty of interest come tournament time – but there are reasons to be wary. The Bulldogs are just 8-6 ATS in their past 12 games since starting out 13-0, and they're a mediocre 2-2 ATS as an underdog.

Wichita State (16-5 SU, 9-9-1 ATS, 9-10 O/U): Getting to the NCAA Tournament is difficult enough – but reaching the pinnacle of men's basketball while shooting just 40.8 percent is an even more challenging task. Wichita State's dismal shooting percentage is the lowest of any participant in this year's event.

UCLA (17-9 SU, 12-14 ATS, 15-11 O/U): Take the Bruins out of Pauley Pavilion, and they've been a major disappointment from a covering perspective so far this season. UCLA has struggled to a 4-10 ATS mark in 14 games away from L.A.: 3-8 in 11 true road games, and 1-2 in three neutral-site outings.

Michigan State (15-12 SU, 9-18 ATS, 10-17 O/U): Only 14 teams finished with a worse regular-season ATS mark than the Spartans, who were a particularly terrible 3-11 ATS as a favorite. That includes four outright defeats as a favorite, en route to their worst regular-season showing since 1996.

No. 12 seeds

Oregon State (17-12 SU, 18-9-1 ATS, 17-11 O/U): We know how people love those 12-seed upsets when making their first-round bracket predictions or bets – and the Beavers certainly fit the bill. Oregon State went an incredible 13-5 ATS as an underdog this season and was also 3-0 ATS in neutral-site games.

Winthrop (23-1 SU, 13-11 ATS, 11-12-1 O/U): The Eagles know how to wring out as many extra possessions as possible – and that could serve them well in Indianapolis. Winthrop ranks 18th in forced turnovers per game (16.3), 14th in offensive rebounds (13.0), and fifth in "extra scoring chances" (7.3).

Georgetown (13-12 SU, 16-9 ATS, 11-14 O/U): The Hoyas are a dangerous team from the free-throw line – but they'll need to be better from the floor. G Jahvon Blair and F Qudus Wahab are the only players in the Top 20 in the Big East in scoring that shoot below 40 percent from the field and better than 80 percent from the foul line.

UC Santa Barbara (21-4 SU, 14-10 ATS, 11-13 O/U): There's a great first-half wagering opportunity with the Gauchos, if you believe in their season trend. UC Santa Barbara limited opponents to just 27.5 first-half points per game, sixth-lowest in the country - that figure jumps to 35.4 in the second half.

No. 13 seeds

Liberty (23-5 SU, 16-8 ATS, 12-11-1 O/U): If you're looking for a 13-seed upset candidate. the Flames are here for you. Their 57.4-percent effective field goal rate ranks fourth in the nation, and third among NCAA Tournament entrants. The two teams ahead of them? Gonzaga and Baylor.

North Texas (17-9 SU, 16-9 ATS, 10-15 O/U): The Mean Green are no strangers to life on the road – and they've thrived heading into the NCAA Tournament. North Texas is on an incredible 8-2 ATS run over its previous 10 games, with seven of those games coming away from Denton.

UNC Greensboro (21-7 SU, 17-11 ATS, 13-14-1 O/U): If the Spartans manage to pull off an upset at the NCAA Tournament, it likely won't be from a 3-point barrage. UNC Greensboro enters as the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the competition, ranked 311th overall at 30.0 percent.

Ohio (16-7 SU, 14-8 ATS, 13-9 O/U): The Bobcats might be up against it in Round 1, but they come into the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest ATS teams in the country. Ohio is 9-1 SU and ATS in its last 10 overall, a stretch that includes four victories as outright underdogs.

No. 14 seeds

Colgate (14-1 SU, 10-5 ATS, 8-7 O/U): Much has been made about the Raiders' sensational offense (86.3 ppg, second in the country) – but bettors should also note their 3-point dominance. Colgate ranks third in long-range shooting (40 percent) while boasting the No. 1 3-point defense (26.1 percent).

Morehead State (23-7 SU, 19-9 ATS, 10-18 O/U): The Eagles would love for their first-round game to be decided at the charity stripe. They allow just 13.5 free-throw attempts per game (third fewest in the country) and enter the NCAA Tournament with a plus-6.0 average FT attempt margin.

Eastern Washington (16-7 SU, 15-7 ATS, 12-10 O/U): Look for the Eagles to get off to a fast start. Eastern Washington owns a plus-6.9 first-half scoring margin for the season, good for 15th in the country. That rate jumps to plus-16.7 over its previous three games, tops in the nation.

Abilene Christian (23-4 SU, 16-6 ATS, 14-8 O/U): The Wildcats could make some noise in the NCAA Tournament if they continue to rock those sticky fingers. Abilene Christian leads the nation in forced turnovers per game (20.3) while sitting second overall in steals per outing (9.9).

No. 15 seeds

Oral Roberts (16-10 SU, 14-9 ATS, 16-7 O/U): The Golden Eagles as a dual-threat 15-seed? Believe it. Not only does Oral Roberts boast the No. 1 free-throw success rate in college basketball (82.4 percent), it also makes a whopping 11.3 3-pointers per game, the most in the country.

Cleveland State (19-7 SU, 18-8 ATS, 14-12 O/U): Discipline will be critical if the Vikings hope to be competitive in Round 1. Cleveland State ranked just inside the Top 300 in personal fouls per game (19.2) while allowing 21 free-throw attempts (and 15.3 makes) per outing.

Iona (12-5 SU, 11-5-1 ATS, 9-8 O/U): The Gaels are back in the NCAA Tournament, which probably means another non-cover and an offensive explosion on behalf of the competition. Iona is just 1-6 ATS in its previous seven appearances, with its opponents averaging 88.1 points in that span.

Grand Canyon (17-6 SU, 15-5 ATS, 6-14 O/U): Here are your "Under/Cover" champions for 2020-21. The Antelopes rode the country's No. 9 scoring defense (61.1 ppg against) and plus-9.6 average scoring margin to 13 ATS/Under combos on the season, the most of any team in the country.

No. 16 seeds

Drexel (10-6 SU, 12-4 ATS, 9-7 O/U): The catalyst behind the Dragons' first NCAA Tournament appearance in 25 years? Superior shooting across the board. Drexel shot 47.7 percent this season (up from 44.1 percent in 2019-20), 77.7 percent from the line (up from 70.0), and 37.2 percent from deep (up from 34.9).

Hartford (15-8 SU, 15-8 ATS, 9-14 O/U): The Hawks' best chance at an unlikely first-round NCAA Tournament upset: Continuing the sensational perimeter defense it displayed during the season. Hartford boasts the nation's 10th-best 3-point field goal percentage against at 27.9 percent.

Texas Southern (16-8 SU, 11-10-2 ATS, 13-9-1 O/U): If March Madness success comes down to 3-point shooting, the Tigers are in a world of hurt. Not only do they have the worst long-range shooting of any team in the NCAA Tournament, their 27.6-percent success rate from deep ranks sixth-worst in all of Division I.

Mount St. Mary's (12-10 SU, 13-9 ATS, 8-14 O/U): If you're looking for a nice Under play this week, the Mountaineers are ready to abide. They saw an average of just 126 points scored in their 22 games this season, the lowest average score of any team in the NCAA Tournament.

Appalachian State (17-11 SU, 14-9-1 ATS, 11-13 O/U): The Mountaineers have had no problem being the underdog this season. They went 8-6 SU and 9-4-1 ATS in 14 games in that situation, including three straight outright victories as an underdog to win the Sun Belt Conference title.

Norfolk State (16-7 SU, 12-9 ATS, 12-9 O/U): We've saved the best for last – if you like chippy encounters, that is. The Spartans rank 307th in personal fouls per game (19.7) while drawing nearly 20 per game of their own – and that means a combined 46.8 foul shots per game, the most in the country.  

Where can I bet on March Madness odds?

March Madness is one of the most popular times of the year for sports bettors, which of course makes it one of the busiest times of the year for online sportsbooks. Every betting site will offer March Madness odds but the top sites are safe and secure, offer a wide range of banking options, and give you a ton of markets for each game. Check out the best March Madness betting sites in your region.

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