March Madness Betting 2021

march madness

March Madness (aka the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament) is one of the world’s most popular and beloved annual sporting events. The tournament’s seeding and single-elimination format has led to countless moments of drama, intrigue and unlikely heroism.

According to Forbes, roughly 100 million people tune in each March to watch the games play out. Many also fill out brackets and participate in free March Madness bracket contests. Of course, outright sports betting on March Madness is also big business. The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates 47 million Americans bet $8.5 billion on it in 2019.

Since Michigan has now joined the legal online sports betting club, Michiganders can be a part of the annual sports betting frenzy for college basketball right from their own homes. Here’s a handy guide to all the ways you can bet on March Madness this year.

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Compare March Madness odds at Michigan online sportsbooks

Check below for a live 2021 March Madness bracket with consensus odds for each game. Then check the live feed below the bracket direct from MI online sportsbooks.

You’ll find both live point spreads, moneylines and totals odds on individual games plus current futures odds for teams to make the Final Four or win the national championship.  Click on any odds in the feed to jump directly to the online sportsbook, claim your free bets and get your March Madness bets placed.

How to download a sports betting app to bet March Madness

Mobile sports betting options in MichiganIf you already have a smartphone or mobile device, downloading a sportsbook app is not much different than any other type of app. Simply follow the instructions below:

  • Find a link to your chosen sportsbook app above and click the “Play Now” button. It’s important to use our link — we often have exclusive bonus offers and deals that you can’t find elsewhere.
  • Look for the appropriate download button for your device’s format. You will either need to download the Apple version or the Android version of the app.
  • Apple users (iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches) can download their apps through the usual process. It’s no different at all.
  • Android users will need to allow “Unknown Sources” to download before they can get the .apk file for the app. You can complete this action by visiting the “Security” portion of your device’s settings.
  • After downloading the app, either register for a new account or log in with your existing username and password. Make sure to double-check our site for any promo codes to enter during registration.

March Madness Bracket contests

The schedule by which the 68 teams in the tournament abide is known as a bracket. It depicts the collisions between the teams in a tree-like format.

Because the schedule is published about a week before the tournament begins, bracket contests (free or paid entry) are the best-known way to place a wager on March Madness. Even people who don’t usually bet on sports get to fill out a bracket and participate in a pool.

In fact, according to Nielsen, Americans (and others) completed a mind-boggling 170 million brackets in 2019. So, many sites, including both Michigan sportsbooks and other sports-related entities, will host bracket challenges for March Madness. Most of these contests are free to enter. Even those outside of their home states can play.

To participate, register for one of the many contests that you can find through a simple web search. Make sure to stick to challenges with known websites, e.g., DraftKings Online SportsbookYahoo! and ESPN, for each host their own contests.

draftkings march maniaThese contests offer monetary prizes for the top finishers. Although it’s quite unlikely that you’ll be in that group, it doesn’t hurt to try. Once you’ve finished registering, look for the button that opens a new bracket. Click through the rounds of play to select which team you believe will win each game.

Eventually, you will have picked a Final Four, a championship game matchup and an eventual winner. You will also have to guess the score of the final game. This guess is in case of ties with other challengers. After you’ve made your selections, submit your bracket. Make sure to bookmark your bracket, because watching your picks win (or not) is one of the most fun parts of the NCAA Tournament.

Best Free March Madness Contests

$1M DraftKings Survivor Pool

A Survivor Pool isn’t a typical March Madness bracket pool. Instead of picking a winner for every game in the whole tournament before it begins, you simply pick one team per day.

If that team wins, you advance to the next round. If that team loses, you’re out.  For the next round, you have to pick a new team to win and so. Repeat until:

  • You’re the last player standing
  • You longer have any new teams to pick

If you’re the last player standing, you’ll win the full $1 million. See the full terms and conditions and enter for free on DraftKings below.

$50,000 DraftKings Yuengling Bracket Battle

A standard bracket contest, in this one you pick all the most winners in your 63-game bracket before the tournament starts. If you pick the most correctly, you’ll collect a share of the smaller-but-still-handsome $50,000 prize pool. Get your picks in before brackets lock on Thursday!

$2M BetMGM Perfect Bracket Contest

A perfect bracket is a virtually impossible feat. But that doesn’t mean there’s no fun in trying. Especially if it doesn’t cost you anything to try.

betMGM perfect bracket contestThe BetMGM Free $2 Million Perfect Bracket Challenge is running for the first time with a gigantic $2m up for grabs if someone manages to pull off the incredible feat but a still solid $100,000 to award if a perfect bracket isn’t achieved.

Each winning pick in your bracket is worth one point, and if you collect the most points you’ll collect the whole $100,000.

Contest is entirely free to enter and open to all BetMGM CO sportsbook account holders, new or existing. Jump in and play for free via the link below:

Betting on March Madness

There will be a multitude of wagers available during March Madness. The sheer number of games played yields numerous permutations of bets that sportsbooks can offer. Note: The Michigan Gaming Control Board has the final say on approved betting markets. As such, not all bets listed below have been approved. Bookmark this page to get updated information.

Futures

One of the most common bets during March Madness is a futures wager. These bets are usually not as popular, but the format of the tournament lends itself to this kind of wagering.

A futures bet is a wager on whether a particular event will occur after a specific period of time. Typically, futures bets are predictors of eventual champions or individual award winners.

Since 68 basketball teams make the field in March Madness (in one form or another), there are 68 different options on betting on which team will be the national champion

The higher seeds are more likely to win, but in the history of the tournament, teams seeded as low as No. 8 have become the champion.

There are also some expansions to the typical array of futures bets in March Madness. You can make futures wagers on the progress of any team in the field — in most cases, in terms of how far they go.

Futures bets are usually expressed as moneylines, but they are easily convertible into straight odds if you prefer. 

Since they are all positive moneylines, simply divide the number by 100 to get the straight odds. For example, a team at +3000 is a 30-1 underdog, since 3000/100 = 30.

Other common types of March Madness bets

Of course, the other standard types of bets are available for individual March Madness games. The following types of wagers will be available for each game in the tournament:

  • Point Spreads: These are bets that concern themselves with the final margin of victory. Either the favorite will exceed the expected spread, or the underdog will cover the gap.
  • Moneylines: Wagers that are interested only in the outcome of the game, regardless of the margin. Payouts vary according to which team the sportsbook expects to win.
  • Totals: Bets regarding the combined number of points that the teams score. Players wager whether the teams will or won’t exceed the sportsbook’s estimate. Hence, the nickname for the bet being the “over/under.”
  • Parlays: It is also possible to combine some of the wagers above into a single bet. All selections in a parlay must be correct in order to pay out, but the high-risk wager also bears the potential for a higher return.
  • Live Betting: A form of proposition wager that proposes bets after a game is already in progress. These bets are quick and rough but can be a way to add excitement to the experience of watching a game.

March Madness betting tips

For players in Michigan, March Madness could be among the first times you have tried to bet on sports. So, here are a few strategies to maximize your results for March Madness wagering.

1. Keep track of lines

At the beginning of each bet, a sportsbook designates opening marks for the point spread, over/under, moneyline and other estimates for the game. However, these estimates are not always accurate, and smart bettors often flood to lines that seem off.

This flood of cash will provoke an adjustment from the sportsbook, which wants its potential payout liability balanced on each side of the bet. So, look for large swings from the opening position to the current mark.

If the smart money is going a certain way, there’s usually a pretty good reason.
wolverines odds

2. Look for value in middle seeds early

One of the reasons that people love March Madness is the potential for upsets. The idea of a lesser-known school upsetting a perennial favorite excites even casual sports fans.

Nevertheless, the seedings in a tournament are usually fairly accurate — to a point. The higher-seeded teams (Nos. 1-4) are generally going to win their first and second games.

However, the games where the teams are seeded closer together offer a decent chance for upset value. For instance, the No. 12 seed has beaten the No. 5 seed around a third of the time.

So, look for lower-seeded (Nos. 9-12) teams who have strong records but are placed low because of their schedule strength. A mid-tier conference champion usually has a reasonable chance to beat the fourth- or fifth-best team in a power conference.

3. Stick to higher seeds late

That being said, the higher-seeded teams tend to win in the end. Only 14 teams seeded below No. 6 have ever made the Final Four.

The reason for the drop-off is twofold. For one thing, the depth of higher-seeded teams tends to take hold as fatigue and inconsistency sets in. A lower-seeded team can be undone if its star player has an off night.

The other factor is that the element of surprise for the lower-seeded team is lost. The higher seeds will have fully scouted a lesser-known college in the first week by the time the second week rolls around.

4. Watch for momentum

It’s tough to win six or seven games in a row. In some cases, it may seem like the only reason anybody won the national championship is that somebody had to win it.

However, a team that catches fire at the right moment can sometimes run through the competition, regardless of their seed or previous performance. So, as the tournament progresses, keep an eye out for teams who seem to be putting it together.

In this vein, it might be worthwhile to look for teams who were highly ranked early in the season but fell off because of injury or chemistry issues. 

An underperforming team with loads of talent might only need a spark to become the group everyone expected them to be.

What’s the best spot for betting on March Madness in Michigan?

fanduel sportsbookAs one of the biggest sporting events of the year, March Madness is quite a festive time. You can now head out to watch the action while placing some bets in Michigan without missing out on the latest odds. Here’s where to go.

Greektown Casino-Hotel

  • Name: The Sportsbook at Greektown Casino-Hotel
  • Address: 55 E Lafayette St, Detroit, MI 48226
  • Phone: (313) 223-2999
  • Sportsbook hours: M-F: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. S/S: 9 a.m. – Midnight
  • Online sportsbook: Barstool Sportsbook MI

If you head to the upper level of the casino, you’ll find The Sportsbook located next to Trappers Bar. There are five betting windows on-site and 40 self-serve kiosks elsewhere in the casino.

MotorCity Casino Hotel

  • Name: FanDuel Sportsbook
  • Address: 2901 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
  • Phone: (866) 782-9622
  • Sportsbook hours: 7 days – 9 a.m – 12 a.m.
  • Online sportsbook: FanDuel Sportsbook MI

FanDuel is more than a big player in the online and mobile space. There’s a retail sportsbook at MotorCity Casino that continually gets rave reviews. Dozens of HDTVs, a sports ticker, six betting windows and 54 self-service kiosks are among the amenities waiting for you.

Little River Casino Resort

  • Name: River Rock Sportsbook & Grill
  • Address: 2700 Orchard Hwy, Manistee, MI 49660
  • Phone: (231) 398-3976
  • Sportsbook hours: M-Th: 2 p.m. – Midnight. F/S/S: 10 a.m. – Midnight
  • Bar hours: 7 days – 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Online sportsbook: BetRivers Sportsbook MI

A full bar and food menu await visitors, and you’ll even find betting windows right inside of the restaurant, along with plenty of screens. You can also get your bets in on the self-serve kiosks, which are open around the clock.

For other options to consider come March Madness, check out Dacey’s Sportsbook at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek or the BetMGM Sports Lounge at the MGM Grand Detroit.

A brief history of March Madness

The NCAA men’s Division 1 basketball tournament began in 1939. At the time, only eight teams competed for the title, and the Oregon Ducks claimed the inaugural championship.

Since then, the field has expanded dramatically. It is now possible for 68 teams to boast that they made the “Big Dance.”

However, since four teams are eliminated through play-in games, the tournament itself is effectively a 64-team, single-elimination contest. 

Teams in the main field receive seeds numbered 1 through 16, and the eight teams competing in play-in games have the same seeds as their initial opponents.

The University of California-Los Angeles remains the most successful program in history, with 11 titles to its name. Under legendary coach John Wooden, the Bruins won the title each year from 1967-73.

Other highly successful programs include the University of Kentucky (eight wins), the University of North Carolina (six wins)Duke University (five wins) and Indiana University (five wins).

Each conference tournament winner receives an automatic bid to the tournament, regardless of record. The remaining 36 teams are at-large bids and are determined by the NCAA Selection Committee, which uses multiple variables to select the strongest competitors.

At present, 16% of Americans are expected to fill out a bracket each year. They will also wager more than $10 billion on the games.

Dreamstime Stock photo

March Madness FAQ

What is the Final Four?

The Final Four consists of the four teams who meet on the final weekend of play. Reaching the Final Four requires a team to win four or five games in a row, which is considered to be a substantial achievement even if the team does not win the national championship.

How many teams play in the tournament?

There are 68. The proper bracket for the tournament features 64 slots, but beginning in 2001, the NCAA started adding play-in games to the event.

Eight teams play games that lead up to the actual tournament itself. This round of games is called the First Four.

How long does the tournament last?

The tournament lasts for three weekends in the months of March and early April.

How many losses can a team incur before they are eliminated?

One. March Madness is a single-elimination format, so teams play until they lose or they win the national championship.

Who decides which teams are in the tournament?

The NCAA Selection Committee selects the at-large teams to play in March Madness on Sunday before the tournament begins, in. Although there is always a bit of contention near the bubble, almost every good team makes the bracket.

Can I bet on March Madness?

Yes. Michigan residents and visitors can bet on March Madness games at both online and retail sportsbooks.

Is there DFS for March Madness?

Yes. Top daily fantasy sports operators, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, will host contests for March Madness games.

Do No. 1 seeds always win?

No. Although they are ranked the highest, a No. 1-seeded team is not guaranteed success. In fact, only one Final Four (2008) has featured all four No. 1 seeds.

Has a No. 1 seed ever lost in the first round?

Yes, once. In 2018, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose its first game. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the first No. 16 seed in history to advance.

Shockingly, the game was not particularly close. The top-seeded Cavaliers ended up losing by 20 points, 74-54.

With that said, you should still bet the No. 1 seeds to beat the No. 16 seeds. A single occurrence in history does not constitute a pattern, and the top-seeded teams are usually there for a reason.

What’s the lowest-seeded team to win the national championship?

Villanova won the 1985 national championship as a No. 8 seed. The Wildcats defeated two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds en route to their historic victory.

What’s the lowest-seeded team to make the Final Four?

Four No. 11 seeds have managed to make the Final Four. They are:

  • LSU (1986)
  • George Mason (2006)
  • VCU (2011)
  • Loyola Chicago (2018)

What are the chances of selecting a perfect bracket?

It’s astronomical. Estimates have varied from 1-128 billion to a staggering 1-9.2 quintillion. To put that in perspective, you are 438 times more likely to win a Powerball jackpot than pick a perfect bracket.

What’s the best that anyone has done on a bracket?

Forty-nine straight games. In 2019, a bracket challenge player managed to rip off an incredible string of predictions before a loss. However, bear in mind that 67 games end up taking place each year. So, even the best anyone has ever done still isn’t all that close to perfection.

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