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Bring on the mad, mad betting world.

As gamblers and sportsbooks pop the March Madness champagne, early betting trends take several forms.

Here are some March Madness betting trends across the sportsbook landscape.

March Madness Betting Lines: Point Spread, Moneyline, Total

Here are March Madness odds from BetMGM Sportsbook.

Game Time Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Thu (12/7) @ 7:00pm ET EKEN Eastern Kentucky +6.5 -115 +220 o146.5 -110
NCG UNCG -6.5 -105 -278 u146.5 -110
Thu (12/7) @ 7:30pm ET ARKL Arkansas-Little -6.5 -110 -278 o156.5 -110
CARK Central Arkansas +6.5 -110 +220 u156.5 -110
Thu (12/7) @ 7:30pm ET IOWA Iowa +6.5 -105 +240 o153.5 -110
IAST Iowa State -6.5 -115 -303 u153.5 -110
Thu (12/7) @ 8:00pm ET IUPU IUPUI +5.5 -110 +180 u132.5 -105
EILL Eastern Illinois -5.5 -110 -227 o132.5 -115
Thu (12/7) @ 8:00pm ET PORT Portland +2.5 -110 +120 u148.5 -110
NDKS North Dakota State -2.5 -110 -145 o148.5 -110

How Sharps and Novice Bettors Approach March Madness

“In the first round, everybody is dialed in because of the excitement, whether that’s the sharps or the novice bettors,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told Gaming Today.

“You see a lot of patterns with some of the so-called unsophisticated bettors jumping all over the 12 seed playing the 5 because they hear all the talk about past upsets by those teams,” he noted. “On the flip side, the sharps could care less about who is 5, who is 12, who is 3, who is 14. They are looking for the right matchup, they want to get on the right side.”

March Madness Betting Trends: How Gamblers are Approaching NCAA Tournament 2023
Sports betting customers play March Madness at the Borgata in Atlantic City in 2022 (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

The betting mix figures to propel the nearly month-long March Madness to become the book’s highest-wagered event “by perhaps three or four times” over the next-best Super Bowl and World Cup this year, Avello noted.

Each year, the books enhance March Madness by upgrading their prop menus.

The list now includes shifting odds for in-game wagers, micro bets for next basket, and bets that take a few minutes to settle.

Check out: Best March Madness prop bets

“The public likes to bet on the races,” Avello said. “They love the race to 10 points, the race to 20, etc. In many cases, they also love the dog.

“We have seen more money on Iona (71% handle at +9.5) for instance, than Connecticut,” Avello said, “but that doesn’t mean they won’t like Connecticut to win the game and perhaps reach the Sweet 16. They are simply backing Iona in this game with points.”

Avello said Kennesaw State gets heavy support at 75% handle against Xavier. The game opened Xavier at -13 and was down to -11.5 late Tuesday afternoon.

Northern Kentucky is another target for dog bettors. Houston is heavily favored at -19.5 according to DraftKings but showed vulnerability in losing to Memphis 75-65 on Sunday with key player Marcus Sasser out.

With Sasser nursing a groin injury, Houston lost handily to a Memphis team it had only beaten by two points one week earlier.

Early Wednesday morning, it had not been announced whether Sasser will return for this game.

If he sits, Northern Kentucky has its best chance to cover. If he plays, the Over/Under of 122, which is the lowest of the entire first-round board, may look encouraging to Over bettors.

“You will see a lot of first-half betting on Northern Kentucky in this game,” Avello said. “People may not believe Northern Kentucky can win outright, but if they are going to be in this game, it will be early.

“If Houston is winning this game by 14 points at halftime, I think it’s pretty much going to end as a blowout.”

Avello indicates that gamblers like playing several moneyline parlays in the opening round, in which they might leverage a large bet. That can be complemented by inexpensive multi-legged in-game parlays, which pay enormously well.

“There are thousands of these in-game parlay wagers every day and there are always a couple of them hit,” he noted. “It might be someone turning $10 into $50,000. These are very hard to hit, but the ones that do come in pay very well.”

Regarding traditional wagers, Avello advises bettors to research a team and incorporate its favored style of play into the game.

“If that style of play is going to be a problem for the team they are going against, that could be the opening you look for,” Avello said. “St. Mary’s is a very deliberate team, they try to use up every second of the clock to find the right shot. Well, they are going against a VCU team with a pretty good defense.

“If that team can be effective defensively, St. Mary’s may have some problems.”

Reflecting that style-of-play assessment, the Over/Under is 123, which is the second lowest on the board. St. Mary’s at -4 initially looks appealing, but the team does not have the capacity to score quickly should it fall behind.

Avello’s view of Kansas and Howard (actually the lowest Over/Under listing at 122 points) regards one particular matchup.

“Take a look at Kansas, going against a team that likes to shoot a lot of threes,” Avello said. “You figure Kansas will try to shut those guards down and that will be the key to how that game turns out.”

Avello believes the No. 1 seeds are vulnerable, particularly Purdue, which labored to a two-point win over a 22-14 Penn State team to capture the Big Ten tournament.

Notable opportunistic futures props include odds of a team reaching the Sweet 16. Bettors who believe a team can win two games but no more can leverage a good-sized play into that bet.

Avello believes the first round will showcase many $10 bettors and several six-figure wagers.

Betting amounts will intensify — in some cases above $500,000 — deeper into the tournament.

NCAA Tournament sharp betting report: How pro gamblers are moving March Madness lines


Caesars Sportsbook Futures Betting: Sweet Home Alabama

Since the bracket became public, one No. 1 seed has gotten the most action to win it all, but it’s not the favorite. Alabama has reeled in a leading 12.0% of the tickets and 15.5% of the handle. Houston is the only other team to nab a double-digit percentage in either category, locking in 13.2% of the handle.

“People remember what they saw last, and they saw Alabama winning the SEC tournament and Houston losing to Memphis in the [AAC] final,” said Adam Pullen, Assistant Director of Trading at Caesars Sportsbook. “So, it makes sense that they’re getting more love of late, and Alabama is the better price as well. People might also like their path to the Final Four a little better than Houston.”

The team with the third-most handle since brackets were announced is No. 5-seeded Duke in its first year post-Mike Krzyzewski. The Jon Scheyer-coached unit has captured 9.6% of the handle, with UCLA (8.9%) and Texas (8.6%) the only other ones above 8%.

The two other No. 1 seeds are neck-and-neck here, with Purdue sixth at 5.9% and Kansas seventh at 5.8%.

Learn more: How to hedge NCAA Tournament futures bet

BetMGM Sportsbook Betting Trends for Early Rounds

Most Bet Games (Tickets)

1. Furman vs. Virginia
2. Arizona State vs. Nevada
3. Penn State vs. Texas A&M

Most Bet Teams (Tickets)

1. Furman +5.5
2. Arizona State -2.5
3. UC Santa Barbara +10.5

Most Bet Teams (Handle)

1. Furman +5.5
2. Drake +3.5
3. Penn State +3.5

Most Bet Overs (Tickets)

1. Arizona State at Nevada
2. Utah State at Missouri
3. NC State at Creighton

Most Bet Unders (Tickets)

1. Santa Barbara at Baylor 143.5
2. Furman at Virginia 132.5
3. West Virginia at Maryland 137.5

Read more: Pursuing the perfect March Madness bracket

PointsBet Betting Trends for First Four

Texas Southern and the Under received the early betting love for Wednesday’s matchup against FDU at PointsBet.

Texas Southern at -3.5 weighed in at 82% of the spread handle with 60% of the tickets on Tuesday night. That means the larger bets have been swinging to Texas Southern.

So has the Under, which plunged from 153 to 147. That’s a good-sized change and the big bettors have been banking on defense. During the course of wagering, the Over has 58% of the bets, while the Under has 72% of the handle.

This is an interesting split, revealing two opposite views of the game.

Arizona State, meanwhile, enjoys an 83% backing in tickets and 88% of the spread handle at -2 against Nevada.

Big bettors are backing the Over 133.5, as only 51% of the tickets but 78 % of the handle is going above the total.

Bookmark these: March Madness betting lines | March Madness pools

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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