Every basketball fan knows the NBA, but the college game – and in particular the NCAA National Championships – has its own special appeal. 68 teams from right across the nation compete in an annual frenzy of single-elimination games known as March Madness, usually producing some huge upsets along the way.
With two great local teams (Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines) usually in contention, many Michiganders join the rest of the country in closely following each of the 67 games played every spring. And of course, filling out a March Madness bracket is an easy introduction to NCAA basketball betting.
Get the Best Odds for Your NCAA Basketball Betting Strategy
With so many teams competing each season, and with the potential for so many underdog victories, odds for outright winners can be very attractive. Interested in online gambling in Michigan? Here are some of the latest odds available right now.
About the odds
As with most major sporting events, odds for the NCAA National Championships can change rapidly. All teams are ranked, which makes it easy to see who are the favorites and who are the underdogs, but you should shop around to make sure you get the best value odds for any bets you place.
Since the introduction of legal betting in Michigan, online bookmakers offer odds in several formats: ‘Fractional’, ‘Decimal’ or ‘American/Money Line’.
- Fractional: common in many parts of the world, but less popular in the USA, these show the amount returned for a specific bet. E.g. odds of 2/1 (or, 2 to 1) would return $2 for every $1 wagered.
- Decimal: a single number, e.g. 1.25, shows how much would be won per unit wagered. In this example, a $1 bet would return $1.25, a $2 bet would return $2.50, etc.
- Money Line: displayed as either ‘+’ or ‘-‘ numbers, with a ‘+’ money line (e.g. +110) showing how much profit would be won for a $100 wager, and a ‘-‘ money line (e.g. -110) showing how much would need to be wagered to win $100.
NCAA basketball betting also traditionally involves brackets, which behave differently to many sports bets as they are a straightforward points race. Read on for more on brackets below.
NCAA Basketball Betting Strategy
Now that it’s perfectly legal betting in Michigan, what should you actually bet on?
What’s a ‘bracket’?
Brackets are often a fun way to compete with friends or colleagues in a friendly contest, or for more serious stakes online. Plot out the entire tournament and predict each game’s winner. Points are awarded for each correct prediction, with the highest scorer taking the top prize.
Outright/Future & Props Markets
More conventional sports betting markets are also available, of course, including outrights or future markets. These predict the outright winner in a category – an obvious one would be the tournament champion, but others such as tournament MVP can be fun too. Win/lose bets using the points spread or money line (see below) are also popular.
Props bets, or proposition bets, relate to specific players and events, such as a certain player scoring a certain amount of points, assists or rebounds in a game.
Where to bet
If you’re new to NCAA sports betting, it may seem like all the bookmakers are very similar. However, as each sets their own odds it’s possible for smart gamblers to find the best possible return on their wagers by simply shopping around several different operators to find the best price. So don’t just take the first odds you see – that winning bet could be worth even more!
Most Common Markets for NCAA Sports Betting
This popular wager is based on the bookmakers’ predicted final points margin between the two teams. For example, if the Spartans are listed as +4.5, they will ‘cover the spread’ for a winning result if they win the game but also if they lose by 4 points or fewer. Also known as ‘handicap bets’ or the ‘betting line’.
A simple wager on which team will win a particular game.
Point Totals (over/under)
This is a bet on the total amount of points scored in a game by both teams combined. The bookmakers set a figure, e.g. 102.5, and bets are placed on whether total points will be over or under this number (hence the term ‘over/under’).
Also known as ‘proposition bets’, these predict a specific outcome in a specific category. With player props, you can predict a player’s performance in terms of points, steals, fouls and many others, while for teams you can wager on markets such as the first team to 10 points, who will win each half, etc.
A parlay is a number of bets combined, with their potential payouts multiplied accordingly. For this reason, parlay bets can be some of the biggest paying wagers when they win. Parlays can work across different games (e.g. Wolverines and Spartans to both win their first round games), or within the same game (e.g. a player to score X points, X assists and X rebounds).
Futures and Outrights
These are bets on the ultimate winner of a category, such as the NCAA Championship Tournament, Regional winners, MVP, etc.
NCAA Basketball Live Betting
Thanks to the availability of legal online gambling in Michigan, it is possible to bet on games while they are being played. Known as live betting, this can add some excitement while watching a game live.
Thanks to online sportsbooks being available on mobile devices, live betting allows sports fans to place wagers on whatever game they’re watching, wherever they are – provided they remain within the state of Michigan.
NCAA Basketball in Michigan
Michigan boasts a number of Division I schools, with the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans both regularly competing in the NCAA Championship Tournament.
Both have a storied history in the competition, with Michigan State winning the Big Dance in 1979 and 2000, and Michigan winning in 1989. One or both of the teams have contested the NCAA Tournament every year since 1997.
The 2020-21 NCAA Basketball Season
Following the cancellation of the 2019-20 NCAA tournament due to the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020-21 season saw the Michigan Wolverines win the Big Ten Conference regular season, thanks to a 69-50 win over the Michigan State Spartans.
The Wolverines finished with a 23-5 overall record (14-3 in the Conference), while the Spartans recorded a 15-13 regular season (9-11 in the Conference). Both teams progressed to the NCAA National Championships.
The Spartans were buoyed by small forward Aaron Henry’s decision not to enter the 2020 NBA draft, and he went on to lead the team in scoring with 15.4 ppg. However, losing All-American point guard Cassius Winston, along with forward Xavier Tillman (both of whom entered the NBA), hurt their chances. They exited in the First Four, to UCLA.
The Wolverines, led by the scoring of Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner, made it all the way to the Final Four. They, too, were eliminated by UCLA.
The University of Michigan Wolverines consist of teams competing in multiple different sports. The men’s basketball team compete in the Big Ten Conference and Tournament, the latter a competition they won in its inaugural season back in 1998.
The Wolverines’ NCAA Championship history includes a win in 1989 under coach Steve Fisher, soon after which five star recruits joined the program to kickstart the ‘Fab Five’ era (Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Juwan Howard). The group made it to the NCAA Championship game in back to back years (1992,93), but were later sanctioned for falling foul of NCAA rules around boosting (payments to amateur players).
Former Fab Five member Juwan Howard now coaches the Wolverines, who made it all the way to the Final Four in the 2020-21 season.
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State University’s athletics program covers 25 varsity sports teams, including the men’s basketball team.
Since playing its first game in 1898, the basketball team has been Big Ten Conference regular season winners 16 times, Big Ten Tournament winners 6 times, and NCAA Championship winners twice (1979, 2000).
That first title was delivered largely thanks to one of the Spartans’ greatest ever players, Magic Johnson. Other famous alumni include Draymond Green, Jason Richardson, Steve Smith and Scott Skiles.
Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo has been running the team since 1995, building a reputation for the Spartans as a tough, hard-rebounding, defensively cohesive team. He has led the team to a long, unbroken run of NCAA Tournament appearances, as well as more regular season and tournament titles than anyone else in Big Ten history.
More Michigan NCAA Basketball Teams
The Wolverine State contains seven Division I basketball schools, including University of Michigan and Michigan State.
The remaining five comprise the Chippewas of Central Michigan University, the Eagles of Eastern Michigan University and the Broncos of Western Michigan University (all of whom play in the Mid-American Conference), as well as the University of Detroit Mercy Titans and Oakland University’s Golden Grizzlies (both in the Horizon Conference).
Michigan Wolverines 2020-21
A strong performance across the year saw the Wolverines win the Conference’s regular season title with a 14-3 conference record, and make it to the semi-finals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament. There they lost out to Ohio State , but enjoyed a better run in the NCAA Championship Tournament.
Ranked highly (#1 in the East) as the winners of the Big Ten regular season, the Wolverines eliminated Texas Southern, LSU and Florida State before losing 51-49 to UCLA in the Elite 8.
Chaundee Brown Jr. and Hunter Dickinson both shone for the Wolverines, being named to the East Regional all tournament team.
Michigan State Spartans 2020-21
The Spartans finished with a 9-11 conference record, and were selected as an at-large bid to join the NCAA Championship Tournament.
Matched in the First Four with UCLA, the Spartans were unable to stop the Bruins from progressing. Nevertheless, the contest marked the 23rd straight NCAA Championship appearance for the Michigan State team – the most ever.
The team missed the talent and drive provided by former players Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston, who both elected to join the NBA draft. Josh Langford and Aaron Henry provided strength and points throughout the season, but will not be around for 2021-22.
However, in Tom Izzo the Spartans have a Hall of Fame coach who has built them a reputation as a tough team with a winning mentality.
Best Moments Of The 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament
NCAA Basketball Betting Strategy for Beginners
Getting started with sports betting, and looking for some solid NCAA basketball betting strategy? Here are a few tips to start you off.
Play brackets, but don’t expect a 100% hit rate
Nothing says March Madness like a bracket! Predict your winners, tally your points, out-do your friends, just don’t expect to somehow pick out the perfect bracket. Correctly predicting every winner of each of the 67 games has never been done before. That’s not to say you can’t make some good money if you pick a lot of the right spots, but don’t think of it as an easy bet!
Don’t be afraid to pick favorites
This strategy might seem like less fun than backing a hopeful cinderella team to cause a big upset, and to be honest it kind of is. We love an underdog, but the fact is that big teams often crush the opposition – especially with the seeding system used – so it’s often wise to go with your head and not your heart.
Use what you know
Whether it’s your alma mater, a school that’s local to you or just a team you’ve watched a lot, use that knowledge! There are so many teams in March Madness that few people will know all the details of every squad, so use what you know to make profitable decisions.
Boost your odds with a parlay
Parlays can be tricky because they need more than one thing to go your way, but with those longer odds comes bigger payoffs! Odds are multiplied with parlays, so betting on a number of games at once – for example, betting the top seeds will all progress in round one – can still lead to enormous payouts even if each individual game wouldn’t.
Why do the over/under lines look so different from NBA games?
How are the teams ranked for March Madness, why are they ranked and how accurate are the rankings?
Has anyone ever hit the perfect bracket?