How To Read March Madness Odds: Spread, Moneyline, Total, Futures

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Here's a primer for newish bettors on how to read March Madness odds (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

March Madness betting offers several ways to wager on college basketball. If you’re new to sports betting, all of the options can be a little overwhelming. We’re here to help. Check out this quick tutorial on how to read March Madness odds, and also peruse our guide on the best sports betting apps to choose.

What Are Point Spread, Moneyline, And Total?

The point spread, or spread as it’s often called, refers to the “line” on a college basketball game. Gonzaga is the overall No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. In their opening game against Georgia State, the Zags are favored to win by 23.5 points. Thus, the spread on this game is Gonzaga -23.5. Here are the odds via DraftKings as of Tuesday:

Team                  Spread                Moneyline          Total
Georgia State    +23.5 (-110)       +3300                O 147
Gonzaga              -23.5 (-110)        -10000               U 147

If you bet Gonzaga -23.5, you’ll need the Bulldogs to win by at least 24 points to cover your bet on the spread.

Winning a moneyline bet on Gonzaga requires the Bulldogs to win the game outright without regard to points. But, at -10000 odds, a $100 bet on Gonzaga would win you only $1. That’s not a bet most people would make. On the other hand, a $100 moneyline bet on Georgia State would pay $3,300.

A more palatable moneyline wager may be Michigan -145 over Colorado State. A winning $145 bet on Michigan would earn a $100 profit (in addition to your $145 being returned to your account). A moneyline bet on Colorado State +125 would result in a $125 profit on a $100 bet should the Rams win the game.

The total for the Gonzaga-Georgia State game is 147. You can bet ‘over’ or ‘under’ that number, meaning the combined number of points scored by both teams needs to land over or under 147 to win your respective total bet.

What Does -110 Mean?

What does the -110 next to Gonzaga’s -23.5 spread number mean? This represents the typical “vig” or “juice” on a standard bet. This is the amount a sportsbook charges bettors on losing bets.

For every $100 you want to win, you have to risk $110. You can bet smaller or larger amounts, but $100 is used as a benchmark figure in sports gambling. Using our example above, a $110 bet on Gonzaga will win you $100 if the Bulldogs win by at least 24 points. You would receive your initial stake back, too, so you’d collect a total of $210.

Should Gonzaga win by 24 points or more, a bettor who wagered $110 to win on Georgia State +23.5 would lose the entire stake and receive nothing in return.

What Are March Madness Futures Odds?

Futures odds, as the name suggests, revolve around a future outcome. For March Madness, odds are available on every team to win the tournament. Here were the futures odds for the top-10 teams from FanDuel as of Monday:

TeamFanDuel Futures Odds
Gonzaga +300
Arizona+600
Kentucky+850
Baylor+1000
Kansas+1300
Auburn+1600
Purdue+1600
Duke+1700
Villanova+2000
Tennessee+2500

Gonzaga is a “short” favorite to win this year’s tournament. This simply means its odds are low, and you won’t win as much by betting on the Bulldogs. A $100 bet on the Zags will return $300 if they win the tournament.

Sports bettors looking for a greater payout could bet $100 on Purdue at +1600 and collect $1,600 if the Boilermakers win it all. The higher a team’s odds, the larger your payout.

Editor’s note: Always be sure to shop around for the best odds on your March Madness bets. Savvy sports bettors open accounts at multiple sportsbooks to ensure they find the most attractive odds for their wagers. Odds can vary from book to book and even a half-point difference can mean winning your bet. Here are the best sports betting apps for March Madness.

Also read: March Madness bracket tips | March Madness sportsbook bonuses | Big bets at DraftKingsMarch Madness First Round Betting Lines |  March Madness Futures Odds for all 68 teams | Biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history | Women’s NCAA Tournament odds

About the Author

Kris Johnson

Writer & Contributor
With more than 15 years of experience as a sports journalist, Kris Johnson’s work has appeared in Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Journal, NASCAR Illustrated, and more. Kris also wrote a sports-betting novel entitled The Endgame.

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