Guide to Betting on March Madness in Michigan

Each and every year like clockwork, folks across the nation go a little crazy for hoops. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, brings viewers to the screen in droves.

Many of them will have some skin in the game, whether it be via bracket pools or outright wagers on the contest. For some perspective on that, estimates peg the total number of dollars wagered here in the United States at a staggering $10 billion.

In the coming years, that number will only continue to grow. We can say that with confidence because it’s now legal to bet on sports in a growing number of states, and Michigan is firmly planted on the list.

Our complete guide to betting on March Madness will cover everything you need to know about all of the ins and outs of one of the most exciting and popular sporting events of the entire year. By the time you’re through, you’ll have a number of actionable tips you can use.

We’ll explain how the tournament works, point out some things to watch out for, and walk through all of the different types of bet for March Madness, as well as a whole host of other items.

Read on as we explore March Madness in full detail.

Best March Madness betting apps in Michigan

SportsbookLaunch Date
BetMGM SportsbookJanuary 2021
FanDuelJanuary 2021
PointsBetJanuary 2021
DraftKingsJanuary 2021
Golden NuggetJanuary 2021

To get ready to bet on March Madness, you’ll need a sportsbook to handle your business. Our recommended operators up above check off all the boxes. Once you have made your selection from the list of best March Madness betting sites, all you need to do is click through on our links to create an account.

You’ll get some outstanding offers just for doing so, and the entire registration process can be completed in mere minutes. Once that’s all set, download the sportsbook app for your device from the main site, log in on mobile, and you’ll be all set to bet on the go.

How to bet on March Madness

Now that sports betting has been legalized in Michigan, residents have several legal and safe options to wager on March Madness. Here’s how we got to this point. The Supreme Court of the United States said states could figure out sports betting for themselves in 2018.

Several have taken the ball and run with it since then, and many more are expected to follow. Here in Michigan, legislation was passed toward the end of 2019 with the official legal rollout taking place in 2020.

You can now bet on March Madness and all kinds of other sporting markets and events legally and safely in the Wolverine State. Getting started is simple, but you’ll want to understand the basics before jumping in.

Let’s begin by taking a look at a topic that can be a little confusing when starting out.

March Madness betting odds

March Madness is one of the biggest betting events of the entire year. As such, you’ll have plenty of different opportunities to consider. From an odds perspective, the featured listings will revolve around the individual games, as well as on which team will win the whole thing.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the individual contests. For each game on the docket, sportsbooks will post the games with three sets of numbers for the default listing that’ll appear something like this.

  • North Carolina State +130                +2.5 (-110)                  O 134.5 (-110)
  • Michigan State             -120                 -2.5 (-110)                   U 134.5 (-110)

Here’s what the March Madness betting lines for each of those numbers mean, working from left to right.


The first set of numbers is the moneyline odds. This tells us which side is favored to win the contest in the eyes of the oddsmakers. Some games will have tight ranges of odds, others will be far apart, and more will be somewhere in the middle.

  • North Carolina State             +130
  • Michigan State                      -120

Point Spread

The point spread is a number attached to each contest by the sportsbooks. You can interpret it as the estimated difference between the two sides or a projected margin of victory that you’ll need to think through while handicapping.

  • North Carolina State             +2.5 (-110)
  • Michigan State                      -2.5 (-110)


A totals wager has to do with the combined points scored in the game. The sportsbooks will set the bar for each contest with an estimated number. Bettors then make the call on where they think the number will ultimately fall.

  • Over                134.5 (-110)
  • Under             134.5 (-110)

For the tournament as a whole, you’ll find odds to win for each team in the field. At the beginning of the tournament, that means every team on the March Madness betting bracket will be listed. As squads are eliminated, the odds board will adjust.

Here’s what the top of the board might look like.

  • Gonzaga +900
  • Villanova +1000
  • Virginia +1100

Odds are typically listed in descending order. The favorites will be on top, longshots on the bottom and everyone else will be in the middle. A bet on the tournament winner could provide an exceptional return if you make the right call. For a quick example, a $100 winning bet on Gonzaga at odds of +900 would return a total of $1,000.

March Madness bet types

A good part of the appeal of NCAA March Madness has to do with the fact there are wall-to-wall games over several days of the tournament. That opens the doors to a plethora of wagering opportunities for folks to consider.

Additionally, there are numerous ways to bet on each of the individual contests. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular wagering choices.

  • Moneyline betting: The moneyline bet is one of the simplest wagers for those new to the game to wrap their heads around, but plenty of experienced handicappers lean on it as well. All you are looking to do is pick the winner of the game. The difference between the odds on the two sides gives you a snapshot of the perceived difference between the two teams.
  • Point spread betting: The point spread adds another wrinkle to the equation for handicappers to consider. Oddsmakers set the spread, and bettors then decide if they like the favorite minus the points or the underdog plus the points. A spread is basically like a projected margin of victory for you to decipher as you break down the contest.
  • Totals betting: You can also place your focus on the combined points scored in the game. That’s thanks to totals betting, which revolves around an estimated number of points as set by sportsbooks. Bettors choose if they think the total points will be Over or Under that number when the game goes final.

Beyond the big three items on the betting menu are a number of other ways for handicappers to take their chances. Here’s another group of popular wager types for you to consider.

  • Prop betting: You can go deeper on the individual games with prop betting, which are essentially side wagers on things that may come up during the contest. March Madness prop bets can revolve around things such as player or team accomplishments, or they could be based on specific game circumstances or events.
  • Parlay betting: Parlays allow bettors to tie together multiple wagers on a single slip. It’s a way to take a shot at even greater returns, but be aware that the risk rises with each selection added to the ticket. For one approach, you could string together multiple moneyline picks from a specific block of games in the same window of time.
  • Teaser betting: For teasers, bettors get to employ a little more flexibility with the point spreads set by the book. Teasing a spread means that you are moving it from its original point to a level you’re more comfortable with. It’s typically used for a series of games. Basketball teasers are generally set at numbers of 4, 5, or 6 points.
  • Round Robin betting: The round robin bet is in the same neighborhood as a parlay. However, the implementation is different. You’re including multiple selections in both cases, but the round robin allows you to make multiple combinations as opposed to relying on just a single multi-team bet.

When getting set to bet on March Madness, the sheer number of choices you have to make can seem intimidating. However, you can quickly set your mind at ease by remembering a pair of simple points.

First, there’s no rule that says you have to bet on every game. You can scan the list of matchups and find the ones you find most appealing. From there, just break down those games and wager on the ones you feel most comfortable with.

Next, the same applies for March Madness wager types. You can focus on one that works best for your strategy, and even add in more here and there based on your comfort level. The choices are completely up to you. March Madness betting should be enjoyable, and hopefully profitable when all is said and done.

Live betting on March Madness

After the games tip off, you can still place some wagers on how things will play out. That’s thanks to live betting, a popular innovation which has become a featured option for numerous sportsbook operators.

These are bets that can be placed in real time as the action goes down on the court. March Madness betting lines and offerings move quick, so a mobile app is an awesome way to stay on top of what’s going on. Here’s an example of some of the in-game bet types that might pop up.

  • Who will have the lead at the half – Michigan or Virginia?
  • Which side will have the better shooting percentage in the second half – Maryland or Duke?
  • Will either side hold a 10-point lead in the first half – Yes/No?

Since everything moves so fast with live betting, a disciplined approach is pretty imperative. You’ll want to have a clear budget in mind and focus on the opportunities you feel best about. Live betting can open the doors to more profits, but keep your head in the game.

March Madness futures market

The futures market remains active year-round. These are wagers you can place on events that will happen down the road. For college basketball, here are some of the most popular markets you’ll come across.

  • National Champion
  • Team to Make Final Four
  • Conference Winners
  • Player Award Winners

Once the tournament pairings are announced, you’ll see some new markets offered such as teams to win the specific regions. Each of the teams in that bracket will have odds attached, ranging from the favorites down to those considered to be longshots.

For the season-long futures, you can place your bets for March Madness soon after odds are released and take a long-term view. You can also stay on top of the market all season to hunt for appealing offerings. A well-timed futures bet can give you plenty more to root for, and it opens up the chance for even more profits to boot.

How the NCAA men’s basketball tournament works

Each year, 68 teams are invited to the dance. When the dust settles, just one is left standing and crowned as national champ. So how do we get there? Here’s how it all works.

There are 351 teams competing at the D1 level spread out across numerous conferences. After the regular season is in the books, conference tournaments get underway. The 32 winners receive an automatic bid to March Madness.

The remaining 36 teams are chosen by the Tournament Selection Committee, which factors in numerous metrics including overall team quality and strength of schedule. Once the picks are finalized, the tournament bracket is unveiled.

The bracket is separated into four quadrants: East, South, Midwest and West. Teams are seeded from No. 1 through No. 15 in each section, while the final four spots for each are settled on the court.

It’s a single-elimination tournament which breaks down like this.

  • Opening Round: Four games
  • First Round: 32 games
  • Second Round: 16 games
  • Sweet 16: Eight games
  • Elite Eight: Four games
  • Final Four: Two games
  • National Title: One game

When all is said and done, 67 games will have been played. The team that wins it all will have proven themselves to be the top NCAA men’s basketball team in the nation for the season at hand.

March Madness brackets

The bracket is a key component of NCAA March Madness, not to mention a good source of entertainment that can be potentially profitable. Bracket competitions are a big part of what has helped to spark the madness, and tons of folks compete in them every year.

These competitions range from the small local pools to massive ones held online. You can win prizes for your efforts, not to mention lots of bragging rights. However, winning is a lot easier said than done.

Most competitions require users to fill out the entire bracket from start to finish before the first game tips off. Points are awarded for correct picks, and the reward may rise with each subsequent round.

In the simplest competitions, the participant with the most points at the end is the winner, while other contests will pay out multiple spots. March Madness bracket contests are tons of fun, and have essentially evolved into a rite of passage into the spring.

Betting tips for March Madness

There are numerous games to bet on throughout the tournament, but you don’t need to try to break down all of them. Stick to the contests that you find most appealing and shoot for more winners than losers throughout the life of the tournament. Needless to say, approaching this with an overall March Madness betting strategy will provide you with a much better chance of finding success.

With that in mind, here are some March Madness betting tips to help you on your way:

  • Respect higher seeds: While everyone wants to find the upset to bet on, it’s important to temper the enthusiasm. The top seeds in the tournament are where they are for a reason. That said, if you can build a realistic case for an upset that no one else sees coming, go for it — just don’t reach for the stars by looking for things that aren’t there.
  • Look beyond overall records: At first glance, the team with the better record appears to be the stronger of the two. However, there’s a lot more to the story. Most importantly, you need to dig into the quality of opponents and recent play. Those who built a big record versus cupcakes could be paper tigers, while those who have been struggling of late may make early exits.
  • Stick To key statistics: There are lots of games to analyze, so it can be easy to get lost in the research. You can make things a lot easier on yourself by focusing on the things that really move the needle. For college basketball, some of the key items to consider are true shooting percentage, defensive efficiency and depth of rotation.

College basketball in Michigan

There are seven programs in Michigan competing at the D1 level. Here are some of the key details for each of them.

Michigan Wolverines

  • Location: Ann Arbor
  • Conference: Big Ten
  • Tournament Appearances: 29
  • Biggest March Madness Accomplishment: Champion – 1989

Michigan State Spartans

  • Location: East Lansing
  • Conference: Big Ten
  • Tournament Appearances: 33
  • Biggest March Madness Accomplishment: Champion – 1979 and 2000

Central Michigan Chippewas

  • Location: Pleasant
  • Conference: Mid-American
  • Tournament Appearances: 4
  • Biggest March Madness Accomplishment: Sweet 16 – 1975

Detroit Mercy Titans

  • Location: Detroit
  • Conference: Horizon League
  • Tournament Appearances: 6
  • Biggest March Madness Accomplishment: Sweet 16 – 1977

Eastern Michigan Eagles

  • Location: Ypsilanti
  • Conference: Mid-American
  • Tournament Appearances: 4
  • Biggest March Madness Accomplishment: Sweet 16 – 1991

Oakland Golden Grizzlies

  • Location: Auburn Hills
  • Conference: Horizon League
  • Tournament Appearances: 3
  • Biggest March Madness Accomplishment: Opening Round win – 2005

Western Michigan Broncos

  • Location: Kalamazoo
  • Conference: Mid-American
  • Tournament Appearances: 4
  • Biggest March Madness Accomplishment: Sweet 16 – 1976

March Madness FAQ

The Villanova Wildcats hold that distinction as the team won it all back in 1985 as an eight seed. They upset the heavily-favored Georgetown Hoyas, a top-seeded team which walked onto the court as an eight-point favorite.


There have been a number of memorable upsets throughout the history of the tournament, but the biggest of them all happened in 2018. The 16-seed UMBC Retrievers stunned the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, 74-54, marking the first time a No. 16 took down a No. 1 in the history of the tourney.

North Carolina leads the all-time list with 20 Final Four appearances. Kentucky and UCLA are tied for second place with 17 each. Michigan State is in sixth place with 10 Final Four bids, while Michigan is tied for seventh with eight.


This happened in 2011 and is just the latest evolution of the tournament. When the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship tournament was first introduced, just eight teams competed. Notable expansion points came in 1975 when 32 teams made the cut, and 1985 when the field jumped to 64 squads.

John Wooden leads the standings with 10 championships at UCLA, followed by Mike Krzyzewski and his five crowns with Duke. Wooden and Krzyzewski are tied for most Final Four appearances with 12 each, followed by Dean Smith at 11 for North Carolina. Krzyzewski is also the all-time leader in tournament wins with 94, followed by Roy Williams with 77.