Last Updated Mar 23, 2023, 12:43 PM
NCAA Tournament Betting Trends and Futures Odds Report
US Sports Betting Industry Expert
2023 NCAA Tournament Picks
Odds | Matchups | Futures
Sweet 16 | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Championship
NCAA Tournament betting trends have been in the making for months, and with the Big Dance on to the Sweet 16, interest is piling up. March Madness odds are attractive to bettors of all stripes, with everyone fascinated by the 64-team event.
The first weekend of the tournament led to a change at the top. Alabama overtook Houston as the favorite on the NCAA Tournament futures odds board. But both are quite alive in the title chase.
BetMGM sports trader Seamus Magee provides his insights on NCAA Tournament odds, betting trends and action. Check back for updates throughout the tournament.
2022-23 March Madness Odds
Flip-Flop at the Top
For months, Houston has been the team to beat in NCAA Tournament betting trends, sitting atop the championship futures odds. But in the wake of Rounds 1 and 2, Alabama is now the +350 chalk at BetMGM.
Houston is right on the Crimson Tide's heels, at +400. The Cougars and 'Bama posted double-digit victories in their first- and second-round games. But in looking ahead to the Sweet 16 and beyond, Magee said Alabama being the favorite makes sense.
"The Crimson Tide have the far easier path, in my opinion," Magee said.
In the Sweet 16, No. 1 seed Alabama meets No. 5 seed San Diego State on Friday. A win would put the Crimson Tide in the South Region final against either No. 6 seed Creighton or No. 15 seed Princeton.
No. 1 seed Houston meets No. 5 seed Miami on Friday. A win would have the Cougars facing either No. 2 seed Texas or No. 3 seed Xavier in the Midwest Region final.
Two No. 1s Already Done
Purdue had the shortest possible stay in the NCAA Tournament. In the first round, the Boilermakers tumbled to Fairleigh Dickinson 63-58 Friday. That made Purdue just the second-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed in March Madness.
A day later in second-round play, West No. 1 seed Kansas fell to No. 8 Arkansas 72-71. BetMGM had no issue with either Kansas or Purdue bowing out early, with the book benefiting on multiple fronts.
"Those results were good. They knocked out a ton of parlays and a ton of futures action on the championship, Final Four, Sweet 16, parlays, etc.," Magee said, while noting the first two rounds in general were a big boon for bookmakers. "This has been the best start ever to the NCAA Tournament, in terms of action and results for the book. Duke, Kansas and Purdue losing were all good outcomes for BetMGM in the futures market."
In particular, Kansas was among the top three teams at BetMGM in both tickets and money to win the NCAA Tournament.
Ticket Takers and Money Makers
Despite the aforementioned good results for BetMGM, any bettor with Houston is still firmly in the hunt to cash that championship ticket. That includes Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, who has $500,000 on Houston +1000 at BetMGM, a potential $5 million win.
And that's just scratching the bedding surface for Mack. The Houston furniture store owner has $3.55 million in wagers on the Cougars to win the national championship. Along with the $500,000 wager at BetMGM, McIngvale has:
- $1.05 million on Houston +850 at FanDuel (potential profit $8.9 million)
- $1 million on Houston +900 at DraftKings (potential profit $9 million)
- $1 million on Houston +800 at Caesars Sports (potential profit $8 million)
- $500,000 on Houston +900 at Barstool Sportsbook (potential profit $4.5 million)
Should Houston go all the way, McIngvale stands to win more than $35 million. Of course, that will all go back to customers as part of a promotion he's running at his furniture store, just as it did when Mack won more than $70 million after the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.
But that doesn't take the potential sting off for bookmakers.
"We are rooting for the field against Houston and Texas. Gonzaga is not far from a loser, too," Magee said.
Among teams still alive in the tourney, Houston, Texas and Gonzaga are running 1-2-3, respectively, in tickets and money at BetMGM.
Flying Under the Radar
When the NCAA Tourney reaches the Sweet 16 and a team is still alive in March Madness betting, it might be a little hard to be classified as under the radar. But Magee pointed to a couple of programs he believes have value at this stage.
"I think Tennessee should be a bigger favorite to go to the Final Four than it is," Magee said. "The Vols looked awfully impressive vs. Duke, and the defense is still there. It's the best they've looked without Zakai Zeigler on the floor."
Zeigler, the Vols' starting point guard, suffered a torn ACL in a Feb. 28 regular-season win over Arkansas. In Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament, the fourth-seeded Vols hung on to beat No. 13 seed Louisiana-Lafayette 58-55. But in Round 2, Tennessee took it to surging No. 5 seed Duke 65-52.
Next up for Tennessee in the East Region is No. 9 Florida Atlantic, the second-lowest remaining seed in the tourney, behind No. 15 Princeton.
And the second team Magee likes:
"I've also had a soft spot for San Diego State all year," he said. "I actually think the Aztecs will be able to play Alabama pretty close [Friday]. And should they pull off the upset, I think you can make an argument that they have a great road to get to the title game."