March Madness Betting Odds 2020

Favorites To Win NCAA Tournament

March Madness is a 68-team, single-elimination tournament that annually crowns college basketball’s NCAA Division 1 men’s national champion.

The event is aptly named, considering it features a frenetic 67 games over a 19-day period. The participating schools are announced on “Selection Sunday”, along with the exact seeding and brackets. This year, Selection Sunday unfolds March 17.

The annual college basketball rite of spring is sports betting’s most prolific multi-day event. Below you’ll find the current betting odds for the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament, along with key tournament details and betting strategy to help you during the month-long madness.

March Madness futures odds

Given the aforementioned betting popularity of March Madness, futures odds on winning the National Championship have been made available for approximately 50 or so top schools on all major sportsbooks for some time.

That includes DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. Both operators will undoubtedly have a generous array of wagering options on each March Madness game, including moneyline betspoint-spread bets, over/under bets, parlay bets, prop betsteasers and in-play bets.

Those wagering options will be made available at a later date. However, here are current futures odds for the top projected tournament participants heading into conference tournament week in March.

2019-20 college basketball futures odds

NCAA Title Odds

Game
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
Ohio State
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+800
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+1000
Gonzaga
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+800
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+1100
Duke
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+1000
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+1000
Kentucky
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+1000
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+210
Louisville
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+1200
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+1100
Kansas
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+1200
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+1100
Oregon
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+1500
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+1400
Michigan State
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+1800
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+1700
Virginia
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+2000
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+3500
Arizona
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+2000
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+2300
North Carolina
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+2000
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+5500
Maryland
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+2000
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+1900
Baylor
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+2000
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+2300
Villanova
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+2000
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+2600
Memphis
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+3000
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+5500
Michigan
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+3000
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+1700
Butler
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+3000
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+3000
Dayton
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+3000
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+3000
San Diego State
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+4000
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+4200
Florida
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+5000
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+4200
Auburn
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+4000
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+3000
West Virginia
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+4000
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+3900
Florida State
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+5000
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+3900
Utah State
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+5000
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+10000

8 Teams to Watch in 2020

The perennial powerhouses will be there again this year. We don’t need to dive into their greatness. But with parity shining through more than ever, we thought it would be wise to take a look at teams who could make a surprising run at a Final Four appearance in 2020.

Auburn: Bruce Pearl’s squad was a major darkhorse in the tournament last year, upsetting nearly every college basketball blueblood (Kansas, UNC, Kentucky). Auburn was just a point away from making the title game, losing to eventual-champion Virginia. They return five players from that rotation, including two starters (Anfernee McLemore, Danjel Purifoy) and have a favorable schedule in the SEC, who placed just three other teams in the preseason Top 25. The Tigers already proved that they can run with the best come March, and have some unfinished business in 2020.

Arkansas: One of the more experienced teams in college basketball, Arkansas returns six of their top seven scorers from the previous season. They also have a favorable schedule, both out of conference and in-conference. The Razorbacks boast one of the better back courts in the nation, with guards Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones shooting over 40% from three and over 75% from the free throw line last season. If Arkansas can find themselves as a five or better seed, they could look to make a deep tournament run and might not be the public favorite to do so.

Baylor: The Bears are no stranger to postseason play; coach Scott Drew has lead Baylor to eight tournament appearances, four Sweet 16s, and two Final Four berths since 2002. Sophomore Jared Butler is primed to have a phenomenal season after posting 10.2 points per game as a freshman. They also return top scorer Tristan Clark and six other players. Baylor is talented, experienced, and hungry, and a great under-the-radar pick come March.

Butler: Coach LaVall Jordan had a rough second year at the helm, missing the NCAA tournament for just the third time since 2006. Once in the tournament, Butler is nearly a shoe-in to win a game or two as the Bulldogs haven’t been eliminated in the first round since 2008 and never before that since 1999. Even more impressive, they’ve seen seven Sweet 16s since 2002. Senior guard Kamar Baldwin averaged 17 points per game in 2019 and returns to lead the Bulldogs. Experience and previous success is a great recipe for a postseason run.

Ohio State: After an outstanding run under former coach Thad Matta between 2009 and 2015, the Buckeyes have been a bit underwhelming of late; Ohio State has been bounced in the second round in each of the past two seasons. This team is built for March– boasting five players shooting over 40% from behind the arc and seven players shooting at least 70% from the charity stripe. After several years of coming up just short, Chris Holtmann and his crew are eyeing redemption and to continue Ohio State athletics’ excellence.

San Diego State: Since long-time coach Steve Fischer departed in 2017, SDSU basketball has struggled to re-find its footing. This is one of the most experienced crews in the Mountain West, rostering just three freshman in total; they also have some of the best length in the nation, with four players measuring in at 6’ 10”. Teams that win the rebounding battle set themselves up nicely for wins, and there’s no shortage of rebounding capability with this Aztec team. The last two times SDSU was seeded fourth or better, they found themselves in the Elite Eight.

Texas Tech: Last year’s runners-up attack 2020 without superstar Jarret Culver and breakout star Matt Mooney, but that doesn’t mean this year’s team isn’t talented. The Red Raiders roster potentially the deepest guard rotation in the country– with four of them averaging over 10 points per game. Junior Davide Moretti picks up right where Mooney left off and will likely be the X-factor for this team moving forward. In the stout Big 12, Tech will be tested early and, come March, will be ready for any opponent. Their window for a championship run is far from closed.

West Virginia: Coming into the season, the Mountaineers were an afterthought. The Big 12 posts some of the best basketball in the country this season, and West Virginia was thought to be one of less talented rosters in the conference. However, they had shots at some talented teams early (Wichita State, Ohio State) before diving head-first in conference play against Texas Tech. Coach Bob Huggins has led the Mountaineers to five Elite Eights in his tenure and will look to clear that hump after missing out on the Big Dance last season.

How the NCAA Tournament works

The first 32 teams to gain entry into the tournament do so automatically by winning their conferences. The remaining 36 slots are filled by “at-large” teams. A 10-member selection committee consisting of athletic directors and conference commissioners undergoes an arduous and multi-layered process to determine the 36 at-large teams and subsequently finalize seeding and brackets.

This year, the committee will employ the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) as its primary sorting method for determining at-large entrants. The NET replaces the RPI (Rating Percentage Index), which had been utilized since 1981.

The NET utilizes the following metrics:

  • Game results
  • Strength of schedule
  • Game location
  • Scoring margin
  • Offensive and defensive efficiency
  • Quality of wins and losses

The NCAA has a detailed, step-by-step breakdown of seeding and bracket protocol on this page within its website.

March Madness dates and locations for every round

The tournament kicks off just two days following Selection Sunday and will unfold on the following dates/locations:

First Four (March 17-18)

Dayton: University of Dayton Arena

Round of 64 (March 19-20) & Round of 32 (March 21-22)

Albany: Times Union Center
Spokane: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
St. Louis: Enterprise Center
Tampa: Amalie Arena
Greensboro: Greensboro Coliseum Complex
Omaha: CHI Health Center Omaha
Sacramento: Golden 1 Center
Cleveland: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Sweet 16 (March 26-27) & Elite 8 (March 28-29)

Indianapolis: Lucas Oil Stadium
Los Angeles: STAPLES Center
Houston: Toyota Center
New York City: Madison Square Garden

Final 4 (April 4) & Championship (April 6)

Atlanta: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

March Madness betting history

The first NCAA basketball tournament took place in 1939 in Evanston, Illinois. Since then, 36 teams have won it all and five teams have won the tournament at least five times (Indiana, Duke, UNC, Kentucky, UCLA). Since seeding began in 1979, number-one seeds have won the tournament 24 times and have accounted for almost 49% of all championship appearances. Just three times has a team seeded lower than four won the title, and no team seeded below eighth has won, nor made a championship appearance.

Since betting lines were released for NCAA tournament games in 1985, underdogs have covered 44% of the time, winning outright 29% of the time. Games have gone under the total in 56% of games. Since 2010, games have gone under the total in 70% of games and favorites have covered in seven out of ten games. Three teams have won more than one championship since 2010 (Duke, UConn, Villanova), but none have won back-to-back titles (despite Butler & UNC appearing in back-to-back title games).

Since 2000, the top overall seed has made the championship game just four times but won the game three of those times (75%). In total, top overall seeds in the tournament have comprised of just 8% of the total Final Four teams (missed 13 out of 20 years). Besides 1-seeds, 2-seeds have the most championship appearances since 2000 (7 times), followed by 3-seeds (6 times), and 5- and 8-seeds (2).

Just eight percent (52/640) of all Sweet 16 teams have been seeded 11 or lower, and only 2.8% of teams in the Elite Eight were seeded 11 or lower. Four 11 seeds advanced to the Final Four (Loyola Chicago, 2018; VCU, 2011; George Mason, 2006; LSU, 1986). UMBC is the only 16-seed to upset a 1-seed in the tournament’s history (2018), and just eight 15-seeds have prevailed (5%). In 2015, two 15-seeds upset 2-seeds (25% of all such upsets) and two 14-seeds upset 3-seeds.

Using historical data when filling out brackets and betting March Madness, err caution; stats should be used in the long-run but when choosing individual games, be sure to study matchup statistics. The most important thing to remember, though, is this is March Madness, and anything can (and will) happen.

Tournament betting strategies

The historical ATS data for each team in tournament play is just one of countless data points that can constitute March Madness betting research. Other factors that can hold considerable relevance include:

  • A team’s late-season performances, including in their conference tournament
  • Key injuries
  • A team’s defensive proficiency, as this typically has more carryover into tournament play than a high-powered offense
  • “Fading the public” when the line appears to be significantly affected by a team’s popularity, as opposed to actual recent performance
  • Examining various tournament-specific historical trends, such as how high-seeded mid-majors have done in each round in terms of straight-up wins and losses.

Another overarching data set that could prove highly valuable is the performance of each seed in each round versus the spread. Courtesy of BoydsBets.com, below is an overview of historical first-round performance by seeds 1-16 against the number:

SeedWinsLossesPushesWin %
12725051.92
22227344.90
32824053.85
42823154.90
52229143.14
62229143.14
72922156.86
82722355.10
92227344.90
102229143.14
112922156.86
122922156.86
132328145.10
142428046.15
152722355.10
162527048.08

Where can you legally wager on March Madness this year?

Bettors physically located within the following states will be able to place a legal sports wager on March Madness games this year:

Then, there will be a flurry of sports betting legalization efforts unfolding at statehouses around the country during 2020 legislative sessions. Thus, hundreds of thousands of potential new bettors are expected to be part of the fun when the 2021 version of March Madness rolls around.

Based on recent progress and momentum, many states appear to have at least a fighting chance of implementing legalized sports betting in time for next year’s tournament.