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Tips for NCAA Tournament Futures

College Basketball Betting: Tips for NCAA Tournament Futures Wagers

By Loot, NCAA Basketball Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

When betting on futures for the NCAA tournament, we need to keep some things in mind. In order to extract any kind of decent value out of it, we need to read between the lines. A big part of it is understanding the tournament from a very basic level--namely how it is a single-elimination affair. That's fairly unique in the world of sport.

In any American team sport other than football, of course, a champion must prove its supremacy of an opponent over the course of an entire series. Pro basketball, unlike college hoops, has a series of games. The idea is to arrive at a true champion. And truth comes out over the course of an entire series. In a singular game, anything can happen.

So when trying to forecast a futures bet like "who will win the NCAA tournament?" we need to remember the dynamic of March Madness. One win is all a team needs to put another team's championship dreams to sleep. That's a heck of a lot easier than beating a team 4 times. That doesn't mean the NCAA Tournament winner won it cheaply. Getting through the tournament is as tough as it gets. It just means that all results are subject to the randomness that is the nature of the beast when dealing with a one-game window.

So how sure-headed can we be betting on teams to win the NCAA tournament? It's one thing to think that no one is going to beat a top NBA team in a best-of-seven series, but how sure can you be that Duke won't lose one game? A team that wins the NBA title has to win a ton more games than an NCAA champion. But it might be harder to become an NCAA champion on the basis of needing to be perfect. You lose--you're out.

So we need to be cautious betting chalk. Teams will be favored and rightfully so. The best teams have the best chance--that's as simple as it gets. It's just that when you manage to correctly pick a team to jump through all the hoops in the tourney, you should be rewarded fruitfully for your clairvoyance.

When we're getting 4-1, 5-1, or 6-1 on a team to win it all, we're asking for a lot to happen right in relation to what we stand to win. All it takes is for a team to have a sub-par 40 minutes of play and our bet is toast. It's not like picking a favorite to win the NBA title. A lot has to happen for an underdog team to upset their championship hopes. A crappy 40 minute stretch is all it takes in the college ranks.

So when we take a monumental stand like betting on a team to win the whole doggone tournament, we should stand to receive a robust payout. This isn't meant to imply that there are simply never times you should choose a favored team. A lot of bettors, however, choose more than one team. If a betting man chooses a couple favored teams, now he's really only getting 2 or 3-1 and that's if one of those teams actually wins--far from a foregone conclusion. It seems like there are easier ways to notch a wagering win in the 2 or 3-1 ballpark than picking a few teams to win the NCAA tournament.

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Rather than blindly signing off on favorites, we should look at the next level of teams. They're good, but just not on the same level of prestige as the really top dogs. Try to gauge which teams they will be facing in their brackets. If some of the heavily-favored teams that they will face later in the tourney represent some favorable match-ups for that team, it might be worth a look.

In other words, try to isolate some teams that offer value. The top favorites will eat up all the action, hence their shallow odds. That equals robust numbers for some of the teams down the line. If a team you thought would be like 25-1 is 40-1, that is great value. When betting on a 5-1, they're probably closer to an 8-1 in reality. There's not a lot of value to be found at the top of the list. This bet is sort of a stab in the dark. So if you're going to actually win it, you should be paid off well.

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