Betting on March Madness futures

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How do March Madness futures work?

As the name suggests, March Madness futures allow you to bet on key things at the tournament that will be decided at a later date, most notably which team will win it. Sportsbooks often offer these markets as early as the NCAA college basketball regular season, although they are also available to wager on in the build-up to and during the tournament itself.

As a result, March Madness futures odds can change significantly over a long period of time, depending on factors such as a team or player’s performances, injuries and team news, seeding announcements, and coaching changes. This also means that the markets can provide an opportunity to get good value from the odds if you time your bet right, although the single-elimination format and upset-heavy nature of the tournament makes them difficult to call.

Aside from which team will be crowned champions, there are plenty of other March Madness futures also popular with bettors. These include whether a team will qualify for the tournament and reach the Final Four, and which player will win the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) award.

Basketball_March Madness_Jacksonville State Gamecocks center Brandon Huffman and Auburn Tigers forward Walker Kessler
© Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

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Popular March Madness futures

March Madness winner futures

March Madness winner futures simply offer odds on a team to win the next edition of the tournament. These are normally posted by sportsbooks when the fixtures for the following NCAA college basketball season are announced, and are available to wager on all the way through to immediately before the Championship Game.

The favorites to win March Madness will typically include the teams considered to have the best squads expected to win their conference, as well as any teams in particularly strong form. The odds will likely change significantly throughout the season, depending on how certain teams are performing and their chances of reaching the tournament progress, but usually settle in the weeks immediately before the tournament.

Teams eyeing March Madness success traditionally require a well-balanced line-up, on top of the ability to handle the intense schedule and pressure of the tournament. Since 2002, 12 of the 19 March Madness winners entered the tournament among the top 20 NCAA teams for both offense and defense according to the KenPom ratings, so that is a good starting point when attempting to identify your outright favorites.

March Madness To Reach Final Four futures

March Madness To Reach Final Four futures offer odds on a team to reach the Final Four round of the tournament (and essentially win their region’s section of the bracket). This is unsurprisingly considered to be easier to predict than the overall winner, but will likely offer odds with lower payouts as a result.

The obvious favorites for this market are the four respective No. 1 seeds in that year’s bracket, although you should be careful of relying on them too much. As of 2022, of all the teams that have reached the Final Four throughout March Madness history, only 40.9% were No. 1 seeds. Furthermore, since 2000, the top overall seed has only made the Final Four seven times out of a possible 20.

Your bets for this market should be informed in the same way as your predictions for the overall March Madness winner. Try and identify the teams who can call upon a strong squad and the resilience to reach the tournament’s later rounds, as well as those who may have a favorable run-in in their region’s section of the bracket.

March Madness To Qualify futures

Sportsbooks offer futures markets not just on who will win March Madness and how far teams will go within it, but also on simply whether a certain team will qualify for it.

Teams have two routes to qualify for March Madness – to be one of the 32 conference champions that do so automatically, or to be one of the 36 “at-large” teams chosen by the NCAA selection committee. Naturally, teams predicted to win their conference are likely to have shorter odds for this, and will be considered safer bets to do so.

However, it is also important to remember that there is no limit on the number of teams that can be invited from a specific conference. If a conference is regarded to be particularly strong, it may have up to half, if not more, of its teams invited to be among the 68. As a result, you should look out for teams likely to dominate their conference and those near the top of the strongest conferences.

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© Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK
March Madness MOP award futures

The best player at March Madness is given the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) award. Decided upon by the Associated Press at the end of the tournament, the honor has been historically dominated by players for the winning team, with the last MOP who played for a non-champion team coming in 1983 (Akeem Olajuwon of the Houston Cougars).

As a result, the favorites for this market traditionally include those considered to be the best players for the teams among the frontrunners to win the tournament. If you are confident a certain team will win March Madness, researching their best players for the MOP award future may be a straightforward way of adding value to your predictions.

March Madness futures FAQs

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