March Madness 2021 Betting Guide & Live NCAA Tournament Odds

The NCAA Tournament is back, however, your 2021 March Madness betting experience may be a bit different than previous years. The environment for the tournament will be very different, and it will have a significant effect on betting lines and – quite possibly – actual outcomes for the event.

So we’re here to give you some insights on March Madness betting odds and how to be better prepared this year, along with the mechanics of making bets and having a smooth, user-friendly experience that will reduce stress and add enjoyment to this process.

But first, let’s take a look at some newly updated NCAA Basketball odds and bets you can make right now.

March Madness National Champion Odds

When you combine the activity at sportsbooks with all the office pools where even the secretaries submit a bracket, you get a lot of activity spread out across the United States. It seems like everyone in a workplace, a neighborhood, or a communal group wants in on the action.

Estimates of $10 Billion spent in US each year.

March Madness Betting Odds – 2021 NCAA Futures (Updated May 18, 2024)

Below you will find a LIVE interactive list of March Madness betting odds & options for the 2021 NCAA College Basketball National Tournament. This table compares updated betting lines of the top 7 sports betting apps in NJ, so you can select the bet you’re interested in and the best possible odds offered, all in one spot.

Use the convenient drop-down menus to reveal the selection of TEAM FUTURES you can choose from, including March Madness betting odds to win the National Championship, to reach the Final Four, to win the ACC, and more. Scroll through the list of teams, sports betting apps, and betting odds, then just click on the bets you want to make. Also, some sportsbooks offer certain bets that others don’t, and you’ll see that here as well.

(Scroll from left to right to see additional sports betting apps.)

March Madness Game Odds

March Madness Brings Out The Competitor In Many

March Madness is second to the Super Bowl – ahead of every other American sporting event – because there are 68 teams, and lots of Americans think they can be “the one” who will correctly predict how the NCAA Tournament unfolds. They want to have the perfect bracket (or at least win their office pools). They think they know who will go to the Final Four and then win the national championship.

The fact that March Madness reduces 68 teams to a champion in just a few weeks, with single games reducing the field instead of a best-of-7 series, makes the event very dramatic, very emotional, and very efficient. It is not a drawn-out kind of drama. It’s perfect for a high-energy, on-the-go society that craves instant results and explosive, drama-rich events.

Seeing 19-year-olds nervously shoot high-pressure free throws at the end of a March Madness game is part of the thrill and the charm of the experience, and bettors want to be part of that. It’s a huge adrenaline rush for three weekends – two in late March, one in early April at the Final Four.

These are two very different flavors of March Madness betting, but both very fun. Some people want to make specific bets on specific games through an online sportsbook, betting through established outlets, and getting a price or the best betting odds on a specific contest. Others want to do a bracket contest, in which they pick the winners of all 67 NCAA Tournament games and hope their bracket is better than everyone else’s.

Two different pathways exist, but in the end, it’s the same expression of hope that one set of March Madness picks will be the best picks in the room… and the source of a huge payday. Consider the ins and outs of the betting process plus specific sports betting tips and tricks you will want to keep in mind for March Madness.

Where can I bet on March Madness 2021?

You can bet at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in Atlantic City, NJ. A physical building you enter, and – at a counter – place your bets in a transaction with another person. That is always an option.

However, you can also place bets through an online sportsbook, including:

You establish an account, make a deposit which represents your pool of funds for making bets, and the transactions (payments and payouts) are handled through a secure online channel. Let’s give you more details.

March Madness Betting Odds & Promotions

Bet From Your Phone

You can use your phone or hand-held device to process bets, as well as your personal computer or tablet. A secure online connection enables you to engage with an online interface and look at an online sportsbook’s offerings. Various betting websites will give you different visual profiles and different specific ranges of information, odds, and overall resources to help you as a sports bettor.

You will want to go over several websites, at least until you find the online site which is the most user-friendly, gives you the most odds – so that you can shop for the best odds in each game you want to bet on – and will process your transactions seamlessly and without conflict.

Bet In-Game As The Action Takes Place

You can bet on a game before it starts, but there is also a way to bet on a game after it begins. Live betting refers to the ebbs and flows of a game, with March Madness betting odds, lines, prices, and props changing as the score and time shift. If one team dominates the first half, the other team might be expected to do well in the second half.

You can make a live bet at halftime in which a team trailing by 20 points might win the second half by 10 points. You could make a bet on the trailing team minus 7.5 points, which means if the trailing team wins the second half by eight points or more, you win. That team might not win the game, but it could win the second half by a large margin. You could bet on the second half, not the game, and cash in. That is but one of many different examples of live-in-game betting.

Shop Around For Best March Madness Betting Odds

It’s not that hard to appreciate this next concept: If you can get a betting line that is one point better than what you might find at a different sportsbook, it could make all the difference between a winning bet and a losing one.

If you can bet on Philadelphia in a football game minus 6.5 points against New York instead of minus 7.5 points, you win the bet if Philadelphia wins by a touchdown (seven points).

The ability to gain that extra point in a set of available odds carried a lot of weight. You have likely lived long enough to see some games in which a team covered – or failed to cover – by one point.

Getting one extra point on the betting odds is not a trivial thing. That means it’s important to shop around and look for the websites which will give you more March Madness betting odds and, therefore, a better chance of getting a lower point spread.

Earn A Deposit Bonus When You Sign Up For A New Account

New sites will be accommodating for customers who want to set up shop and make an online sportsbook their betting hub. Continuous business is what websites want to create, so they will offer incentives to keep people coming back for repeat action.

Be on the lookout for deals, perks, and special one-time sports betting offerings when you establish your account at a new betting website. A deposit bonus – in which the sportsbook throws in a small extra amount in addition to what you put in – can essentially give you a free bet and get you started the right way at the online sportsbook where you choose to do long-term business.

March Madness Betting Odds 2021

The 2021 college basketball season began with Gonzaga at No. 1, and the Bulldogs have remained at No. 1 the whole way. They haven’t lost a game. But who do you think will win it all?

They have two legitimate players of the year candidates, with Corey Kispert – a great scorer and shooter – having a slightly better chance of taking home the honor than teammate Jalen Suggs, a tremendous ballhandling point guard who helps the Zags get out in transition and run.

Luka Garza of Iowa is the leader in the player of the year race, but he hasn’t sealed the deal just yet.

Gonzaga and Baylor are the favorites to play in the national championship game. They have been the top two teams all season long. Villanova, Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Illinois, and Virginia are the next six teams in the hunt for the title. Those eight teams – Gonzaga and Baylor plus the next six teams listed above – are the favorites to get the top seeds at the NCAA Tournament, four number one seeds and four number two seeds.

The Big Ten is the conference most likely to get the most teams into the NCAA Tournament. At least nine teams look solid for NCAA bids, and if things break right, the Big Ten could get a total of 11 teams. The Big 12 is the other conference expected to get a large number of teams in. Seven of the 10 teams in the Big 12 look very good for NCAA bids.

One of the big stories in college basketball this season is that you’re not going to see a lot of the big names you normally associate with March Madness. Kentucky and Duke are not going to be in the NCAA Tournament this year. They have both been terrible. Michigan State is looking like a 50-50 team for the NCAA tourney at this point.

North Carolina is likely to get in, but it’s not certain at all. The Tar Heels are not going to be seeded any higher than No. 8, which means they would play a No. 1 seed in the second round and likely get beaten. The traditional basketball schools aren’t going to be found at the top of the seeding structure. Villanova is the one real exception. Kansas is also not going to be a top-three seed. The Jayhawks might get a No. 5 seed at best. It’s a very different year in college basketball.

When are lines released and how do odds change? 

Lines are released after Selection Sunday when the matchups are known throughout the NCAA Tournament. Odds will change based on injury reports and COVID-19 complications this year. Pandemic situations could leave teams with shorthanded rosters, so you will want to wait to place your bets until just before tipoff. You wouldn’t want to make a bet two or three days before a game, only to learn that a key player will miss the game due to COVID-19. That is part of the new landscape of pandemic basketball.

Types of March Madness Bets

You can find many different ways to bet on March Madness and get in on the excitement of one of the best times of the sports year. Consider these options:

Point Spread

The point spread is a margin of victory…for example, if No. 1 seed Baylor is favored by minus-26.5 points in the first round over a No. 16 seed, the Bears have to win by 27 or more to cover. You are going to see some very large point spreads – some in the twenties, some in the very high teens – in those first-round games between 1 and 16 seeds, or between 2 and 15 seeds.

Be ready to see large numbers. If you think the higher seed won’t completely run away with the game, you can bet on the underdog at plus-25 points and stand a good chance of winning if your instincts are correct. The underdog could lose by 20 points and cover the 25-point spread, making you a betting winner.


The moneyline is simply choosing the straight-up winner. Obviously, then, a No. 1 seed playing a No. 16 seed will have a huge moneyline price – maybe -10000, meaning you would have to bet 10,000 dollars to win $100.

However, the first-round NCAA Tournament games between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, or between the No. 7 and No. 10 seeds, could give you some smaller prices that provide value. An underdog could be +300 on the moneyline, meaning that if you bet $100 on an underdog to pull an upset, and the underdog does win the game outright, you would win $300.

You might also find value in betting on a favorite at a lower price, such as -175. You would bet $175 to win $100. If you think the favorite is a lock to win outright, go for it.

Maybe you could wait for the price to go down even more, to -150, but if the moneyline isn’t exorbitant for a favorite you are convinced will win outright, it’s worth pulling the trigger since the point spread is not a consideration. You aren’t boxed in by the margin of victory – any win cashes.


Betting on the combined score is straightforward, but you have to consider all the angles first: If a total for a college basketball game is 141, that assumes a final score of 71-70… but that could just as easily mean a score of 76-65 or maybe 81-60. You would need to see how big a favorite or underdog each team is.

You would have to see if one team is likely to score a lot or allow a small number (or vice-versa). Once you think you know how well each team will do on both offense and defense – scoring points and allowing points – then you can make your bet on whether the game’s total points will be over or under the listed number.


This has to do with long-term bets like who will win the whole NCAA Tournament. Given that this is a six-round tournament (plus the First Four play-in games), a futures bet made before the tournament begins will give you a much larger payout than if you make a futures bet on the national champion before the Sweet 16, when the field has been reduced by 52 teams (68 down to 16).

You can make futures bets at various points during the college basketball season, but the earlier the bet is made, the more uncertainty is involved, since more teams are in the hunt. If you wait to make a futures bet until after the field is down to 32 or 16 teams, you might win, but your payout will be far, far lower than if you make a successful futures bet right now, or in late February, or even in the first week of March. Just know that the timing of your bet affects a Futures payout.

Why Bet March Madness Online

A lot of bettors enjoy the feel of the sportsbooks in Las Vegas during March Madness and while it’s true, that environment can be a lot of fun. However, betting online has its benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Action Is Available 24/7

Online betting gives you immediacy and access to odds, resources, and the ability to process a bet. You can’t get that same immediacy and access at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook.

Can Manage Account From Out Of State

If you value the experience of going to a sportsbook for March Madness itself, as many people do – wanting the thrill of being in Vegas or Atlantic City when first-round NCAA Tournament games are going down to the wire and everyone is going nuts – you can still manage your account in your home state.

You just have to be in Vegas or Atlantic City or another United States jurisdiction which allows legal sports betting when you actually place your bet. Computer management of your account can be done anywhere. You can download, set up and manage accounts from out of state. All you need to is cross into the state to bet but everything else can be done at home.

Shop For The Best Line

Getting more odds – thereby a higher chance of finding good odds for the bet you want to make – is a prime feature of online betting sites. You get more odds and prices online than you do at an in-person sportsbook.

And we do this for you so there’s no need to jump from book to book! (Just scroll back up to the top of the page)


The speed and immediacy of processing make the logistics of online betting so much easier to handle than in person. It’s less stressful, it’s less complicated, and it gives you more time to study sports, less time to worry about placing your bet properly or having your papers in order.

You don’t get headaches from processing bets online, certainly not if the sportsbook is professional and transparent. Also, if you win, your account is simply credited. You don’t have to walk back to the sportsbook with a physical ticket to get paid out.

Mobile Betting Is Simple

Betting through hand-held or portable devices gives you even more immediacy. You not only are able to work online; you don’t have to be tethered to your home personal (desktop) computer or PC.

In-Game Betting

The online betting experience means that when betting on live, in-game odds and props, they come up immediately on the online interface you use. It might take a lot more time to process an in-game bet at an in-person sportsbook, and in the time it takes to process that in-person bet, the status of the live game might have changed, which can hurt your chances of winning. Speed is really the number one advantage of betting online, and this shows up the most during live events.

Brackets vs Betting on March Madness

Fill Out A Bracket

You fill in a full bracket as opposed to betting on specific games in isolation. You can win even if you don’t pick every game correctly because the main thing is that you pick more games – and more of the Final Four teams and the national champion – than everyone else. Even the best bracket will probably involve seven or more losses. If you get 60 picks right and seven picks wrong, and you get the Final Four and national champion correct, you still have a great chance of winning.

Bet Each Game

This is the simple process of identifying a specific game and making a bet on the point spread, the moneyline, or the total. Doing homework on specific teams or conferences rewards this betting approach.


Betting on who will win the national championship well before the end of the NCAA Tournament invites this basic scenario: If you successfully bet on the national champion now, or even in early March, you stand to make a lot more money than if you make those same futures bet after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament when the field is reduced from 68 to 16 teams.

Futures bets pay out a lot because it’s hard to know who will win many months or weeks in advance. If you therefore wait several weeks to make a futures bet, the payout could go way down, since it is often a lot easier to predict the future at a later stage of a season or tournament. The earlier they bet, the bigger the payout if you win.

You can also dive into props, such as who will be the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) of the Final Four. Once the Final Four is set, you can make your play.

March Madness Brackets

There are two main types of bracket contests: free and paid. Free contests appear on ESPN or Yahoo! The advantage: You don’t pay. The disadvantage: Hundreds of thousands if not millions of additional entries, making it much harder to win.

Paid contests require an investment, but have smaller numbers of participants and therefore a greater chance of winning.

At the end of the day, it mostly depends on the size of the contest and the knowledge level of the participants. If you find a group where your knowledge base is better, you stand a better chance. Obviously, though, if you make the right picks, the size of the field won’t matter as much, if at all.

Why Brackets Bust Early

The magic of March Madness is its unpredictability. You know upsets are going to happen, but you don’t know where they are going to occur. That is the whole point about an upset – it’s a surprise. People love to pick upsets, but they often pick them in the wrong places. A No. 13 seed in one region is the popular upset pick over a No. 4 seed in the first round, but it turns out that the 13 seed in the other region is the one that springs the big surprise. That’s how brackets get busted early.

Filling Out Your First March Madness Bracket

Study the teams. Seeds indicate the better teams to a certain extent, but they hardly guarantee anything. Pick your spots for upsets. Some always happen, but higher seeds generally advance more than lower ones. The first weekend is usually more volatile than the second one. Exceptions exist, but you can’t expect total chaos every year.

5 Good March Madness Bracket Tips

When the bracket is made in a normal season, regional placement matters, such as the West, South, Midwest, or East Regions. This year, however, the pandemic has wiped away regional placements. All March Madness games will be in Indianapolis and surrounding areas. The selection committee will therefore not need to worry about air travel or regional representation in the bracket. Teams will be seeded “purely,” in other words, strictly according to their computer rankings and what the advanced metrics say. The seeds and regions won’t be adjusted due to a need to keep some teams in their natural geographical region.

So, in this year’s bracket:

  • Value the seeding order.
  • Notice which seeds are especially strong or weak. In other words, if you see the strongest No. 1 seed in one region, you can trust that the weakest No. 2 seed is paired with the strongest top seed. If you see the weakest No. 1 seed in a region, the strongest No. 2 seed will accompany that weak top seed. This is how the bracketing will go this year.
  • The Big Ten will have a lot of teams in March Madness, maybe as many as 11. With so many Big Ten teams, a bracket will need to spread those teams across the four regions, so that Big Ten teams aren’t playing each other in every round. For the higher seeds from the Big Ten, the bracket will try to put them in opposite halves of the bracket. For example, a 3 seed and a 4 seed are in opposite halves, much as the 1 and 2 seeds are in opposite halves. If the committee has a chance to do so, it will put Big Ten teams in opposite halves of a region. Michigan could be a No. 1 seed and Illinois could be a No. 3 seed, for example. Those teams would not be able to meet until the Elite Eight. In another region, Ohio State could be a 2 seed and Iowa could be a 4 seed. They also would not be able to meet until the Elite Eight.
  • Notice which teams won their conference tournaments, and which ones are at-large teams. Winning a conference tournament often leaves a team fatigued before the NCAA Tournament, since conference tournaments are played every day, without rest days.
  • Look at the Big 12 Conference and identify the teams from that league. The Big Ten and Big 12 are the two best conferences. Be prepared to compare teams from those conferences in the final bracket on Selection Sunday.

Are brackets a better alternative to betting?

It all depends on what you want. Do you want fun with friends? Choose a bracket, since it’s easy to compare all your picks and root for your bracket more than money.

If you want to win money, just pick specific games where you think you’re going to get great odds and the best value. It’s all about your priorities. There is no wrong answer. Just make the choice which is in line with what you want.

A better alternative to brackets?

If you study the history of the NCAA Tournament, you know that No. 12 seeds beat No. 5 seeds more often than No. 11 seeds beat No. 6 seeds. That doesn’t guarantee that a 12 seed will win each year, but it does mean this is a seeding matchup where upsets often happen. Does this mean you should fill out a bracket, or does this mean that your bracket knowledge should be used to pick specific 12-over-5 games in online betting? You have to weigh your options here, but having an awareness of which seeds do better (or worse) than others can work in your favor.

For instance, if you study March Madness, you know that No. 1 seeds usually make the Final Four more than other seeds, but you also know that all four No. 1 seeds rarely make the Final Four together. They did in 2008, but not in any other year. You can use this bracket knowledge to make specific bets on Sweet 16 or Elite Eight games if you see some patterns which are ready to continue.

You don’t have to fill out a bracket to know the patterns of brackets. Knowing the patterns of brackets can help you bet on specific games at an online sportsbook.

March Madness Betting Tips

This year, in the pandemic, there won’t be many fans. There won’t be regionalized brackets since all teams will play in the same state, Indiana. As much as we talk about bracket patterns and normal tendencies, this year could blow them up, since big crowds and regional venues won’t exist.

  • This is a year to value experience. Gonzaga and Baylor are experienced seasoned teams. They play well together, which means that if one guy struggles, another guy picks up the slack. These teams have earned trust every step of the way this season. Trust those two teams.
  • In the non-Gonzaga, non-Baylor regions, find the trusted NCAA Tournament coaches and ride them. Virginia is a great example. If the Cavaliers, under coach Tony Bennett, are in Gonzaga’s or Baylor’s region, don’t pick them to make the Final Four. However, if Virginia is in a region with shaky or less proven coaches – may be in the same region as top-seeded Ohio State – the Cavaliers could be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed which will make the Final Four from that region.
  • Know which teams to trust in a conference. For example, Villanova is the only trustworthy team in the Big East. You haven’t seen Creighton make a deep NCAA run. For the Bluejays to prove that you are wrong for doubting them. Until they prove you wrong, bet against them to make the Sweet 16. Similarly, USC could be a relatively high seed. What have the Trojans done in the NCAA Tournament to suggest they will make the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight? Make USC prove you wrong. Bet against the Trojans and other teams which haven’t proved their worth in March Madness.
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