March Madness Betting Systems

Updated: 427 Basketball

There are numerous ways to bet on March Madness. From brackets and survivor pools to fantasy basketball and betting on individual games. For the casual bettor these options can be difficult to navigate. Where is the value? How can I gain an edge on the house?

March Madness Betting Systems
Michael Calabrese US Content Manager

Experienced sports journalist, College sports expert and broadcaster, hailing from Pennsylvania

There are numerous ways to bet on March Madness. From brackets and survivor pools to fantasy basketball and betting on individual games. For the casual bettor these options can be difficult to navigate. Where is the value? How can I gain an edge on the house? 

For the purposes of this article, I’d like to bring two systems to light for our readers. The first is one I refer to as the “Fade The Flight” system. And the second has a far less sexy name, but equally enticing returns. But I’ll get to that one in a bit. 

Fade The Flight System

When the bracket comes out, find the four “first and second round” sites that are farthest East (2) and West (2) respectively. Then find the teams in each pod that will be traveling the farthest to play there and fade them. What that means, for the gambling novices in the crowd, is you find the teams traveling the farthest and you simply bet against them. You can choose to bet against the spread or on the moneyline because both have been profitable since 2014. Here’s a rundown on this system’s historical data, removing the last two tournaments due to COVID complications.


2022 (SU 2-2, ATS 3-1)

Georgia State in Portland (SU L, ATS W)

Seton Hall in San Diego, CA (SU L, ATS L)

New Mexico State in Buffalo, NY (SU W, ATS W)

Houston in Pittsburgh, PA (SU W, ATS W)

2021

*All first and second round games were played in the state of Indiana

2020

*COVID Cancellation

2019 (SU 1-3, ATS 1-3)

Va Tech in San Jose, CA (SU W, ATS W)

Northeastern in Salt Lake City, UT (SU L, ATS L)

St. Mary’s (CA) in Hartford, CT (SU L, ATS L)

Abilene Christian in Jacksonville, FL (SU L, ATS L)

2018 (SU 1-3, ATS 2-2)

UNC Greensboro in Boise, ID (SU L, ATS W)

WVU in San Diego, CA (SU W, ATS W)

Creighton in Charlotte, NC (SU L, ATS L)

Oklahoma in Pittsburgh (SU L, ATS L)

2017 (SU 2-2, ATS 2-2)

Rhode Island in Sacramento, CA (SU W, ATS W)

VCU in Salt Lake City, UT (SU L, ATS L)

Virginia Tech in Buffalo, NY (SU L, ATS L)

Xavier in Orlando, FL (SU W, ATS W)

2016 (SU 1-3, ATS, 1-3)

Holy Cross in Spokane, WA (SU L, ATS L)

Iona in Denver, CO (SU L, ATS L)

Arizona in Providence, RI (SU L, ATS L)

Stephen F. Austin in Brooklyn, NY (SU W, ATS W)

2015 (SU 1-3, ATS 2-2)

Davidson in Seattle, WA (SU L, ATS L)

VCU in Portland, OR (SU L, ATS L)

Harvard in Jacksonville, FL (SU L, ATS W)

Michigan State in Charlotte, NC (SU W, ATS W)

2014 (SU 0-4, ATS 0-4)

Delaware in Spokane, WA (SU L, ATS L)

VCU in San Diego, CA (SU L, ATS L)

UMass in Raleigh, NC (SU L, ATS L)

Colorado in Orlando, FL (SU L, ATS L)

Betting Against Teams With Long Flights

SU 20-8, ATS 17-11

Fading the flight in the last seven “normal” tournaments has returned a 60.7% hit rate ATS (+4.9 units over 28 plays).

What does that mean for this year’s (2023) tournament? There are four locations that could present 1,500+ mile travel for teams (Albany, Denver, Orlando, Sacramento). So when the teams are announced on Selection Sunday, make sure to Google their travel mileage.  

The 12-5, 13-4 System

While the first system requires some free time, detailed research, and access to a map or two, this next system is as simple and straightforward as it comes. Every year I start my March Madness gambling journey by placing 16 bets on the NCAA Tournament. I don’t deviate from the game plan, alter unit sizes or weigh recent news or trends when implementing this strategy.  All you need to do is place a moneyline wager on every 12 and 13 seed in the tournament field, and an against-the-spread wager on those same teams as well. Why do I do this? Because it’s been a proven moneymaker for well over a decade. 


2008

4-4 ATS

4-4 ML

San Diego+400

Western Kentucky+170

Siena+250

Villanova+250


-.40 ATS

+6.70 ML

+6.30u


2009

5-3 ATS

4-4 ML

Arizona+120

Cleveland State+300

Wisconsin+160

WKU+210

 

+1.7 ATS

+3.9 ML

+5.6u

 

2010

4-4 ATS

2-6 ML

Murray State+250

Cornell+225

 

-.40 ATS

-1.25 ML

-1.65u

 

2011

6-2 ATS

2-6 ML

Richmond+130

Morehead State+475

 

+3.80 ATS

+.05 ML

+3.85u

 

2012

4-4 ATS

3-5 ML

South Florida+250

Ohio+250

VCU+210

 

-.4 ATS

+2.1 ML

+1.7u

 

2013

4-4 ATS

4-4 ML

Cal+155

La Salle+240

Ole Miss+225

Oregon+135

 

-.4 ATS

+3.55 ML

+3.15u

 

2014

6-2 ATS

3-5 ML

SFA+230

Harvard+145

NDSU+145

 

+4.8 ATS

+.2 ML

+5u

 

2015

4-4 ATS

0-8 ML

 

-.4 ATS

-8 ML

-8.4u

 

2016

5-3 ATS

3-5 ML

Yale+225

LR+330

Hawai’i+220

 

+1.70 ATS

+2.75 ML

+4.45u

 

2017

4-4 ATS

1-7 ML

Middle Tenn+100

 

-.4 ATS

-6 ML

-6.4u


2018

5-3 ATS

2-6 ML

Buffalo+415

Marshall+800


+1.70 ATS

+6.15 ML

+7.85u


2019

6-2 ATS 

4-4 ML

Liberty+250

Murray St+145

Oregon+135

UC Irvine+165


+3.80 ATS

+2.95 ML

+6.75u


2021

6-2 ATS

3-5 ML

Oregon State+325

North Texas+300

Ohio+425


+3.80 ATS

+5.50 ML

+9.35u


2022

5-3 ATS

2-6 ML

New Mexico State+250

Richmond+425


+1.7 ATS

+.75 ML

+2.45u


Performance Since 2008

ATS

68-44 (60.7%)

+19.6 Units


Moneyline 

37-75 

+19.35 units


+38.45 units

11 out of the last 14 years it’s been a winning system

So there you have it. Two profitable systems that rely on a pair of core principles. The first is that teams traveling long distances are at two distinct disadvantages: body clock issues and a lack of fans. March Madness is hosted at “neutral sites,” but fan bases are far more likely to travel and support their teams if the game is within driving distance. And the second core principle at work is the fact that 12 and 13 seeds continue to be solid bets dating all the way back to 1985 when the tournament field expanded to 64 teams.  You can best tap into their gambling potential by playing them on both the moneyline and against the spread in this week’s tournament. 

If you would like to try out this system then you can find a list of legal US betting sites here. March madness is a great time to open a new sports book account as there are some very generous free bets and sportsbook promos available. 

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