The single greatest day in the sports betting world is the Super Bowl. But when it comes to the volume of bets and amount of money wagered, everything takes a backseat to the three weeks that is the NCAA Tournament.
It’s where Cinderella lasts well past midnight, in the form of Princeton knocking off UCLA, Santa Clara topping Arizona, and 16-seed UMBC shocking the world and top-seeded Virginia.
If you’re not filling out a bracket each March, can you really call yourself an American? You certainly can’t call yourself a sports fan. It is an event like none other that draws an estimated $12 billion worldwide in wagers.
With that much action, you want to be involved. You need to be involved. And this page is all about telling you how best to get involved in the greatest basketball tournament the world has ever known.
How to Make March Madness Bets
The Final Four is the prize all players are hoping to achieve, but the first full weekend of the NCAA Tournament is where the true madness of March is fully manifested. From Thursday to Sunday, in only four days, sports bettors are treated to 48 of the best college basketball games of the season.
If you’ve never placed wagers on March Madness before, you’re in for a real treat.
Eligibility to bet on sports in Colorado is easy. If you are at least 21 years old and you’re inside state lines when placing your bets, you’re legal.
This does not mean that you have to be a resident of Colorado. You can be on vacation. You can live across the border in Wyoming and just pop over for a day or two of sports betting. You can be in Colorado on a business trip.
Anyone who is of age and physically within the Centennial State can place a bet.
Like many other states, Colorado does impose an exception to the above rules for athletes, coaches, trainers, officials and others who can influence the outcome of a sporting event. Those folks are not eligible to place bets on the sport in which they participate.
Retail Sportsbooks in Colorado
You can place live sports bets at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in any of the three mountain cities that have operating casinos. There are 33 casinos in the cities of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, and most of the casinos are expected to open sportsbooks in the coming months if they haven’t already.
Betting at any of these locations, be it on college basketball or something else, shares the same age requirement of 21.
Online and Mobile Sportsbooks in Colorado
There are a lot of casinos in Colorado, and a lot of them have retail sportsbooks. However, in a mountainous state like Colorado, having all of the casinos restricted to just three cities can be problematic.
But that’s not a problem if all you want to do is bet sports. Casino games are limited to retail casinos, but sports betting throughout the state includes both online sportsbooks and betting over a mobile app.
Each retail sportsbook will team with a partner operator that runs both their online and mobile sports gaming. For the customer, that means you can be anywhere in the state and bet, and if you sign up for a sportsbook account on the web, that same account will work over the corresponding app.
Once you find the sportsbook you want to use, and the platform that best suits your needs, register for a new account by giving the operator your name, date of birth, email address, physical address, phone number and last four digits of your Social Security number. You’ll then pick a username and password, make your first deposit and you will be ready to bet.
An important note about Android apps. Since the Google Play store does not carry any gambling-related apps, you will have to go to the sportsbook’s website and find a link to download the app from there. It’s an extra step as compared to downloading an iOS app, but it’s also very simple.
March Madness History
The NCAA Tournament began in 1939 with just eight teams, and it was the Oregon Ducks beating the Ohio State Buckeyes to take the title. In 1951 the field was expanded to 16 teams, and by 1985 the madness had stretched to include 64 teams.
We reached our current number of 68 in 2011 with the introduction of the First Four, which refers to four play-in games where eight eams vie for the chance to be No. 16 seeds.
The actual phrase “March Madness” was first used to describe the state high school basketball tournament in Illinois in 1939. It’s the same place the first use of “Sweet 16” was used to describe basketball teams.
The label March Madness didn’t become attached to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament until 1982, when commentator Brent Musburger first used it.
Most NCAA Tournament Titles
- UCLA 11
- Kentucky 8
- North Carolina 6
- Duke 5
- Indiana 5
- Connecticut 4
March Madness Betting Odds and Lines
The types of betting available on the NCAA Tournament are standard and the same as what you’ve seen for almost every other team sport.
Point Spread Betting
It’s the most common type of bet you’ll see, and the most common type of bet you’ll play. One team is the favorite, the other team is the underdog, and the bookmaker places odds on the game by using a point spread.
The posted odds look something like this.
- Kentucky Wildcats +2.5 (-110)
- Duke Blue Devils -2.5 (-110)
Duke is the favorite in this game, and the -2.5 spread means that if you bet on the Blue Devils, they must win by at least three points for your bet to win. If you take underdog Kentucky, they can still lose by one or two points, and your bet would still win.
The -110 you see to the right of the point spread reflects the odds that the bet pays. $11 is required to win $10 because the sportsbook gets paid juice (or a take, also known as vig).
One other note about the point spread: The sportsbook wants there to be equal betting on each team. That way, they are guaranteed a profit no matter the result. If there is heavy betting on Kentucky, as an example, then the book is likely to move the spread to make a Duke bet more attractive.
If you don’t want to bet on the point spread and would instead place a straight win/loss wager, the moneyline is what you’ll play. Instead of odds being determined by giving or taking points, the amount of payoff for a winning bet changes.
- Kentucky Wildcats (+120)
- Duke Blue Devils (-140)
Kentucky, as the underdog, will pay out more for a winning bet. If you bet $100 on the Wildcats to win, you’d profit $120. Duke, as the favorite, requires a $140 bet to win $100. In simpler terms, let’s assume a $10 bet on each — $10 on Kentucky wins you $12, while $10 on Duke wins you $7.14.
Note that the two moneylines do not balance each other out. The negative number is larger than the positive number. It will always be like that because, once again, the sportsbook wants its cut.
Another very popular type of bet, an over/under bet, also called a totals bet, is a wager on the total combined score of both teams. With this type of bet, you don’t care which team wins the game. Your only concern is if they score over or under the total points line.
- Kentucky Wildcats +151.5 (-110)
- Duke Blue Devils -151.5 (-110)
If you think it’s going to be a great night for offense, bet the over. If on the other hand your research tells you that defense is going to win the day, take the under. It’s that simple.
One other note on the juice. The standard is -110. If you’re lucky, you can find a sportsbook that lists it at -105. You’ll also notice that on occasion, as the sportsbook shifts the line to stimulate betting on one side over another, they may also shift the juice.
The last type of betting you’ll typically see for March Madness is a futures bet. These are bets placed on events that have yet to happen, like betting the winner of next year’s NCAA Tournament.
You can bet on which teams will get No. 1 seeds, which teams will advance to the Final Four and which team will ultimately cut down the nets as champions.
Recent March Madness Champions
- 2019 – Virginia
- 2018 – Villanova
- 2017 – North Carolina
- 2016 – Villanova
- 2015 – Duke
- 2014 – Connecticut
- 2013 – Louisville
- 2012 – Kentucky
- 2011 – Connecticut
- 2010 – Duke
March Madness Records
Biggest March Madness comeback: Duke came back from 22 down in 2001 to beat Maryland.
Most points scored in a single March Madness game: Austin Carr of Notre Dame scored 61 points against Ohio in 1970. Former Senator Bill Bradley of Princeton scored 58 in 1965. Oscar Robertson scored 56 in 1958. Interesting note: Carr is also in fourth and fifth place on this list.
Most career points scored in March Madness history: Christian Laettner played 23 NCAA Tournament games during his career at Duke and scored 407 career points.
Highest scoring game in March Madness history: In 1990, Loyola Marymount and Michigan combined to score 264 points. The second- and third-highest scoring games also involved Loyola Marymount when run-and-gun coach Paul Westhead was at the helm.
March Madness Betting FAQ
Is betting on the NCAA Tournament legal?
Yes. Colorado does allow legal betting on college sports. Furthermore, unlike some other states, it is completely legal to bet on college athletics that involves an event in Colorado or a Colorado-based school or university. You can place wagers on Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State and every other Colorado college that participates in athletics.
One caveat is that it is illegal to offer prop bets on college sports. So if you see a sportsbook offering prop bets on March Madness, that sportsbook is breaking the law and is probably operating illegally.
How long does March Madness last?
The final game of the tournament is usually played on the first Monday in April, with the entire tournament beginning almost three full weeks prior to that.
In 2021 the First Four, which involves the first eight teams to play, is scheduled for March 16-17. The First Round and the following Round of 32 take place March 18-21.
The following weekend, March 25-28, is the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. The Final Four begins on April 3, and the National Championship Game is April 5.
Where can I bet on the NCAA Tournament?
Everywhere that features legal sports betting will also have a slew of available bets for March Madness. From retail to online to mobile, it’s the biggest sports betting party of the year, and none of the legal sportsbooks operating in Colorado are going to miss it.
Has anyone ever filled out a perfect March Madness bracket?
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett famously offered $1 billion to anyone who could fill out a perfect bracket. That’s a lot of money, but it was also a safe bet for Buffett to make. The odds of someone picking every game correctly are one in 9.2 quintillion.
Essentially, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning while riding a unicorn on the moon. So, no. There has never been a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket.
Is live betting available during March Madness?
March Madness is the king of sports betting, and placing live wagers is the most popular new way to gamble on sports. You can absolutely combine the two.
Live betting is the placing of wagers on events that have already started. As the game progresses, the odds and point spreads constantly change. You can bet at any time, cash out, get halftime lines and much more.
Live betting is the most active way a person can participate in sports gaming, and it is offered at Colorado sportsbooks.