Last updated May 11th, 2019
March Madness betting runs riot while the festival of national college basketball tournaments is ongoing. The NCAA extravaganza’s purpose is to find the champion team of the nation, in both the boys and girls categories.
The event starts, unsurprisingly, in March and lasts a month ending in early April. At its culmination the sixty five teams for the men and the sixty four teams for the ladies have been whittled down the USA national basketball champions in the college arena.
These 65 (or 64 for women) are then split into four groups by location and these four groups initially have a tournament to decide which teams progress to the next stage. At this stage the teams are seeded from 1 to 16 in each of their locational bases. The mathematicians among you will realise that one group for the men’s must have 17 teams (as 65 does not exactly split by 4!).
Now, if you are looking to have a wager on the March Madness betting lines then before you dive in it is worth noting that the higher seeds have a much better statistical record historically than the unfancied teams. The point being this is not a tournament for long shots.
The college basketball teams play each other in a knockout tournament and the teams are reduced to just 16 remaining. They then play each other until just four remain. The relevant point of the Final Four is that they are the four champions of the four national areas. These college basketball teams, from the four different locations, then come together to find the national champion.
The Final Four are effectively at the semi-final point. It is a straight knockout tournament to find the respective national college basketball champions of the men’s and women’s divisions.
The tournament itself is also a national gambling competition, with odds available on everything from the outright winners of the tournament, the winners of each individual basketball game to the number of points being scored in a game and so many more wagering opportunities.
We take a look at the nature of the competition in a bit more detail below:
History of the NCAA Basketball Tournament
In 1939, the NCAA hosted the first ever Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. At the time, the tournament consisted of just eight teams and was played over a total of eight games. It wasn’t until 1951 that the number of teams expanded to 16 and not until 1975 that number doubled once again. By 2011, the number of participating schools had reached 68.
With the constant expansion as well as cultural traditions associated with this college championship, the Men’s Division I Basketball Championship or ‘March Madness’ has become one of the most watched and most anticipated sporting events each year in the US.
Eddie Einhorn: The Man Behind the Madness
When the NCAA hosted its first men’s basketball tournament back in 1939, many people were not even aware the event existed. College championships had perpetrated student life, but beyond that, there really was no television market for college sports.
That all changed when in 1960, Einhorn formed the first syndicated sports network and had the foresight to broadcast college basketball games on TV. The first of these games was in 1968 between the #1 ranked UCLA team and #2 ranked Houston squad.
At the time, the game set a record for live attendance at a sporting event but more importantly, it showed that college basketball was a legitimate market that was ripe for commercial exploitation. Average people became more in tune to the game and before Einhorn or anyone else for that matter knew it, the eight-team tournament had expanded and became a national event.
Last Four In, First Four Out: A Look at the 68-Team Tournament Format
After careful consideration following the 2010 season, the NCAA scrapped plans to expand their 64-team tournament to 96 or even 128 teams. Instead, the format was added to include just four extra teams as well as four more games.
With the addition of four new teams, the NCAA had to be creative with how they introduced said teams into the tournament. In the past, play-in games were used to determine which teams actually made it into the final bracket, but this new format does not feature the additional four teams in that way. Instead, the ‘First Four’ as it is called, are the four games played in the first round between eight teams, a homage to the tournament’s origins. Of the eight, four teams advance to the ‘Round of 64.’
In the Round of 64, which is by far the biggest and most intensive of the tournament and its television revenue, all 64 teams play their games over the course of just a few days. Each game is televised nationally and between several different networks, there really is basketball on most channels at almost all times of the day.
After the Round of 64, the field is reduced to 32 and the same process begins again. This format continues as through the ‘Sweet Sixteen’, ‘Elite Eight’ and then ‘Final Four,’ the field is narrowed to just the four best teams. Those teams then play to decide which two reach the coveted Championship Final.
Understanding Some of the Terminology
There are certain terms that have really worked their way into American vernacular. Some are as simple as ‘Final Four’ and the term March Madness itself. Others however are less common and not as well known, even carrying with them a bit of interesting trivia such as: Did you know that each of the teams that reach the Final Four cut down the basketball net as tradition?
One of the most popular terms used in regards to the NCAA Basketball Tournament is that of reference to a ‘Cinderella Team.’ A Cinderella team is typically from a mid-major conference and is always one that is seeded low and is not expected to go far. In the past, Cinderella teams have advanced as far as the Championship game but none have ever won the ultimate prize. In fact, Villanova University in 1985 as the eighth seed is the lowest seed to have won the tournament. Hailing from a power conference, they were not at the time however, a Cinderella team.
Another popular term is the ‘5/12 Upset.’ Although its origins are unclear, anyone that completes and submits a bracket is well aware of the trend that says, most years, at least one #5 seed is upset by a #12 in the first round. So if you are indulging in March Madness betting then this is worthy of consideration.
Selection Sunday and Bracketology: Breaking Down the Culture
Understanding and appreciating this tournament goes well beyond just following your favorite team. Over the years, this two week period in March has grown to truly be a national American event, complete with its own culture and traditions.
One of the more recent traditions associated with the tournament is what is known as Selection Sunday. This occurs each year prior to the start of the tournament as it is the day in which the official bracket, complete with seeding, is announced.
With the ever growing television market, Selection Sunday has become a televised event where fans can see which of their favorite teams reached the ‘Big Dance.’
As soon as the show is over and the single-elimination bracket is announced, it is available for download. This is where the idea of ‘Bracketology,’ possibly the biggest tradition associated with March Madness becomes front and center.
Anyone with a computer, internet connection and printer has the ability to, for free, print out a blank copy of the bracket. The goal then, is to predict the winner of each game. Some people complete the brackets just for fun, but most often, people do so for the shot to win a little bit of money.
In addition to being one of the biggest single sports wagering times of the year, gambling on the bracket has become a national competition. Known as the bracket challenge, websites such as CBS and ESPN allow users to submit their brackets for a chance to win prizes. The challenge has become such a well-known event that American celebrities and even the President of the United States have gotten in on the action.
If you are following all the games then pick out one or two of the sportsbooks listed on this website and have a look at their March Madness betting lines – you might just find some value odds.