The Big Dance has finally arrived. Despite the fact that the hometown WVU Mountaineers aren’t participating in this year’s NCAA Tournament, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about March Madness odds.
For bettors in the Mountain State and beyond, the event is one of the best in the sports world and creates plenty of wagering opportunities.
The tournament is back to its regular schedule that many are used to. Unlike last year, the opening rounds occur on Thursday and Friday, with the second round finishing up through the weekend.
This is a total of 48 games over the first four days, resulting in the Sweet 16.
But there’s some work to do before that even happens. The First Four begins on Tuesday night, as the field is trimmed down from 68 to 64.
West Virginia online sportsbooks already feature odds for these matchups, as well as the majority of first-round tilts.
March Madness odds at WV sportsbooks
Similar to the approach WV sportsbooks take with the Super Bowl, the NCAA Tournament includes more markets than usual. Instead of just betting on the long list of enticing games, there are additional props and specials.
Bettors can decide how far a team will reach or choose the exact round in which one will be eliminated.
Let’s examine some of the most popular markets, as well as a few interesting odds posted for March Madness.
NCAA Tournament futures
Picking a team to win the entire tournament is a common way for casual fans to put action down. The majority of programs are equipped with favorable odds, so small wagers usually still pay well.
Choosing a winner (or several) is a good way to get involved without trying to bet on a bunch of different contests each day. It also ensures bettors a win when their pick wins the title, which isn’t always the case when participating in a bracket pool.
Currently, DraftKings Sportsbook WV shows 14 teams with a realistic shot at winning the National Championship based on the odds. The online sportsbook lists the following:
- Gonzaga +300
- Arizona +650
- Kentucky +800
- Kansas +850
- Baylor +1200
- Auburn +1200
- Villanova +1400
- Tennessee +1600
- Duke +1600
- UCLA +1800
- Purdue +2000
- Texas Tech +2200
- Iowa +2200
- Houston +2800
After the Cougars, there’s a sizable drop-off, with Illinois at +5000, then again with UConn leading the next tier with odds of +8000.
The NCAA Tournament is all about the upsets and unpredictability. However, these long shots rarely reach the Final Four. If you’re going to take a team to win it all, lean with one of those mentioned.
Odds to reach Sweet 16
Then there’s always a different approach, like taking more of an underdog to make it through a couple of rounds. To qualify for the Sweet 16, most will need two victories. This excludes those partaking in one of the play-in games.
By finding the right lower-seeded side, you can earn a nice win for just a couple of upsets. Even some others who are favored in the first round feature some value to advance to the second weekend.
Teams like No. 3 Wisconsin (+125), No. 4 Arkansas (+140) and No. 4 Illinois (+160) are all capable and return better than even money.
By taking something like this, you’re essentially hoping to avoid an upset in the first round to then have tremendous odds for one more victory. Depending on how much you bet, you could always hedge the second individual matchup here for a guaranteed win.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy this time of year because of how often upsets occur.
In fact, all of the top four teams in each region have only made it to the second round in one of the last 13 seasons. You might think this is a recent trend, but it’s actually happened just five times in the last 36 events.
So, while a lot of favorites are likely to move on, it seems almost certain that one or two won’t.
NCAA Tournament specials
There are other markets to take advantage of for gamblers who feel extra confident about their college basketball knowledge.
One special posted on DraftKings allows you to take exactly when a team will get bounced from the tournament.
Perhaps some WVU backers are sick of Kansas always competing for the title and see the Jayhawks going down earlier than expected. The online sportsbook provides odds of +400 for them to lose in the Elite Eight or +500 at the Final Four.
It’s certainly a different approach to take a future on when a team will lose, but the quality odds have worth either way.
Another exciting market allows you to determine which team will make it further in the tournament. DraftKings offers several head-to-head options, like Arizona (+170) to advance beyond Gonzaga (-200). While those are No. 1 seeds, there are others, including the No. 9 UNC Tar Heels favored at -125 to outlast No. 4 Providence at +105.
Since these schools are on opposite sides of the bracket, this wager is about each team’s path and the potential opponents within the region.
Even if your first few bets burn out early, WV sportsbooks will give you many other chances, with updated odds in between days and rounds.