When it comes to filling out a bracket for the annual NCAA Tournament, most bettors will enter their picks into some kind of bracket challenge contest in the hopes of winning some large cash prizes. If you fancy yourself as some kind of bracketology expert, there are other ways you can try and win some cash for your picks.
One of the best ways to test your overall bracket skills is to make a few side bets on any number of head-to-head matchups for total tournament wins. It takes six wins to lay claim to a national title by winning the NCAA Tournament. Since only one team can accomplish that feat, the first head-to-head bet you should look to make is your projected champion against any other team it is pitted against.
The next level of bets for total team wins should be with any team you have in your Final Four. They will automatically have one more win in any other head-to-head matchup against a team not on that list. You could apply the same strategy for the teams you have advancing to the Elite 8 or even the Sweet 16. However, things can start to get a bit too tricky with a larger group of teams when betting on head-to-head matchups for most wins. Just as a general note, any team win prop bet that ends in a tie will be deemed to have ‘no action’.
Going Chalk with Duke
The ACC’s Duke Blue Devils are the No. 1 overall seed for this year’s NCAA Tournament and they have been opened as +210 favorites to win this year’s national title. When it comes to betting their total wins in a head-to-head matchup with conference rival Virginia, you can get -150 odds on Duke verse the +120 odds betting the Cavaliers.
Each team is a No. 1 seed in their respective region and they could end up facing one another in the championship game. Virginia’s issues advancing deep in this tournament over the years have been well-documented, including last year’s historic opening round loss as a No. 1 seed.
The Blue Devils appear to have the easier route to the Final Four, so I am going with Duke.
The betting odds for total tournament wins in a head-to-head matchup between Duke and the third ACC No. 1 seed North Carolina lean even more in favor of the Blue Devils as -170 favorites. The betting odds the Tar Heels win more games have been set at +140.
These two bitter rivals met three times this season. North Carolina swept the regular season series, but Duke won when it mattered the most by knocking the Tar Heels out of the recent ACC Tournament.
With a healthy Zion Williamson playing at a high level, I am riding the Blue Devils to the national title to guarantee they will have at least one more win than the Tar Heels.
Betting a Big Ten Battle
The Michigan State Spartans edged out the rival Michigan Wolverines for most Big Ten conference wins this season on the strength of a sweep in the two-game regular season series. The bitter in-state foes went on to meet again in Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament Championship with Michigan State winning again 65-60 as a slight 1.5-point underdog.
Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans are set as a No. 2 seed in the South Region along with Duke. The Wolverines drew the No. 2 seed in the West Region with the Gonzaga Bulldogs set as the top team.
The betting odds for most tournament wins in a head-to-head matchup favor Michigan State at -140 with +110 odds for the Wolverines. In my opinion, Michigan has the tougher road to the Elite 8 ahead of a possible showdown with Gonzaga for a trip to the Final Four. I would pencil-in Michigan State as one of my Elite 8 teams given its more manageable path in the South.
This head-to-head prop could be the most interesting matchup on the board. My lean is towards the Spartans. Even if Michigan does overachieve by also getting into the Elite 8, this bet will probably end as a PUSH with each team winning three games.