The tournament is divided into four regions, with each region’s teams seeded 1 through 16. Historically, the higher seeded team wins more often than not. March 11 is Selection Sunday and the first day you can start filling out a bracket.
The tournament has garnered so much attention in the sports betting world that “bracketology” has become a term all its own as a description of the process of predicting March Madness seed rankings.
Sports betting site Bovada (formerly Bodog) gave out $30,000 in prizes to bracket players last year, while ESPN.com’s Tournament Challenge offers a $10,000 grand prize each year to whoever has the best-filled bracket. ESPN had over 5.9 million submissions last year, but only two people went 4-for-4 in accurately picking Final Four teams.
The odds in achieving a perfect bracket are a staggering 1 in 35 million.
Even Barack Obama gets in on March Madness. The basketball-loving U.S. president finished in the 94.9 percentile last year with 650 points. His national champion pick, Kansas, was eliminated in the Elite Eight, losing to Virginia Commonwealth University.
Online sports books looking to tempt March Madness gamblers also offer odds on teams to win the overall tournament before the bracket is even introduced. Last year’s March Madness Champion, University of Connecticut, is paying 60 to 1 to win the tournament outright on Bovada.
The number one ranked team is University of Kentucky. They are expected to earn a number one seed.
March Madness odds also bring out “Cinderella stories” every year, where an underdog team that no one gave much of a chance goes deep into the tournament. The Cinderella factor is just another reason March Madness is so popular for sports betting.
One of the best Cinderella stories is that of George Mason University, a small school from Washington that made it to the Final Four in 2006. They upset the number one ranked team in their region, University of Connecticut, in a nail-biting overtime Elite Eight game.
Basketball fans in general are going a little crazy this season, and not just over March Madness. The NBA’s sudden “Linsanity” over golden boy Jeremy Lin is proving to be the Cinderella story of the year. There’s a prop bet for Jeremy Lin repeating a game winning buzzer beater shot like the one he drained on February 14 vs. the Raptors in the Regular Season, with 3.5 to 1 odds. There are even odds for Jeremy Lin to win NBA MVP honours, which are currently listed at 30 to 1.
Lin will also participate in the NBA All-Star weekend on Feb 26. Though All-Star Weekend bets tend to be more recreational than fanatical, it’s a betting-friendly, star-studded event that offers a number of fun wagers. The Slam Dunk competition is the most popular event for wagering, with Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks favoured to win.
The NBA’s best and brightest will be on display at the All-Star Game in Orlando on Feb. 26 and March Madness kicks off this year on March 13 in Dayton, Ohio.