March Madness Betting Strategies

Hello and welcome back. My name is FightOn2016 and I am a coach over at Beat The Bookie, primarily focusing on data analysis and building analytical models to help predict sports. This article will give you an insight into how to be a more successful bettor once March Madness comes.

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March Madness was the birthplace of a lot of things in the DFS Army community. It was the beginning of the Sports-book channel which later came to life as a new service called Beat The Bookie. March Madness last year was the birthplace of the acronym TTM- Trust The Model. I love March Madness so much that every year I take off 2 days of work to fly to Vegas to watch it and bet it successfully year in and year out. Below you will find good strategies that will help you not only win your bracket pool, but also help you if you are betting the event.


Use The Models and Tools I have created

This is a shameless plug but I believe whole-heartedly in the models and tools I have created to better help your decision making when building your bracket as well as betting the games. This brings me back to the game that made TTM a thing. I was in Vegas with my dad and we were sitting across from two family friends talking through the games. They kept raving about how much they love Arizona and are picking them to go to the final 4 that year. I looked at them and just said “Im Sorry, I have Buffalo beating them”. And their reaction, and the reaction I got from 95% of people when I said that: “So who’s gonna guard the big guy (Deandre Ayton)”. Frankly, I couldve said they double team him and force it out of his hands and that the shooters and Pac-12 just suck, but what came out was the idea of trusting the model (TTM) to see factors and statistics that our eyes look past because all we see is the number 1 overall pick as an absolute menace on offense.


Here are the tools you will have at your disposal:

  1. My Upset Model which looked back at the last 15 years to determine what a successful upset team looks like in the first round. There is a certain breed of top seed teams that get upset and a certain breed of low ranked teams that get the job done. Our upset model predicted the Buffalo upset last year along with Loyola-Chicago, St. Bonaventure, and Syracuse.
  2. My overall win model which again looked back at the last 15 years to determine which team should win the game. I use this model in conjunction with the Upset model in the first round and exclusively afterwards to create my bracket that came in the top 5000 of brackets on ESPN last year.
  3. Articles like this and other stats that will be available to you
  4. For BTB members only – my new model that has been absolutely killing it that takes it a step forward by predicting the score of each game so that we can have an accurate bet on the spread and total of each game. In the last week since it was initiated, it has gone 35-25 for a +10 unit profit. Absolutely killing the game. YOU WILL WANT THIS IF YOU PLAN ON BETTING THE GAMES!

Now to the real betting strategies:


Bet Seeds 7, 11, 12, and 15 in the first round

Above are the ATS % by seed in the first round. As you can see, they range from 43% to 57%. In sports betting, our target number is 52.5%. At that point, we make money so anything 53% or greater is a position we want to target. More importantly, seeing numbers like 55 and 57% as we see from 7, 11, 12, and 15 seeds is an extremely large number as well as those from 8 which are supposed to be PK games.

The biggest knowledge gap to me is the 2/15 matchup. Most years, the talent gap from the 15 to 16 seed is much greater than it is from the 2 to 1 seed. therefore, we usually see similar lines in a 2/15 matchup as we do in a 1/16 matchup. This has shifted a ton of power to the 15 seeds ATS. this is the most important piece I think when going to the betting window because when spreads are 15-20, you know who is going to win. The favorite more than likely wins, but will they win by 10, 20, or 30.

On top of this, ATS there is a 57% win rate taking the dog when the spread is over 20 in the tournament. Long story short, when dealing with the 2/15 matchup or any long odds matchup, take the dog and move on to the closer games.

I was shocked to see the 7/10 matchup with such a split as well. 11 and 12s have historically been the best upset potential spots and it seems like 10s are over-bet causing value on the 7. I will have more analysis on the 7/10 matchups later in the week, but rule of thumb to take the 7 ATS if you think the game is close.



If you want the best bang for your buck, bet the first half in these tournament games. There are some excellent strategies.

Below is a graph of the ATS% by seed in the full tournament

There are some goodies that we can gleam from this. The first is to always take the 1 seed 1H line. 1 seeds hit at 56% on 1H bets and the logic is there that they will route teams in the first half then their bench will give them points back in the second half. Next, look at betting the 4 and 11 seeds in the first half. If we look back at the last table, the 4 and 11 seeds have performed well ATS in the full game and this is an extension of that. 4s have done incredibly in the first half of their games so take advantage.


BET FIRST HALF UNDERS FOR ALL BUT THE 1, 2, and 3 seed games

I dont have a graphic for you for this since i have not been able to pull the data I need to create it, but there was a study done from the 2012-2013 tourneys and the first half under in the first round went 42-20 (67%). That is an incredible number alone. Now, understand that the 1,2, and 3 seed games went 11-13 (45%). So all other seeded first round games went 31-7 (82%). That is practically a lock and the logic behind why it works makes sense. Outside of the top seeded teams where they are playing very bad defenses and can get points however they want, chances are teams come into the tournament with a lot of jitters and it takes 3-5 minutes for a team to settle into their style of basketball.

This will cause the first half to lag. I love this system because the logic makes sense and I will be running it out fully.


That is it for now. I will have more articles for you once we have the selections for the tournament. Good luck to you all on Selection Sunday and I hope your teams get in. If you want to join and become a Beat The Bookie subscriber, go to and use the promo code DFSARMYSB at checkout to receive $20 off a month for life.