NCAA March Madness Odds

With legal sports betting in Ohio, you have lots of ways to explore March Madness betting. Individual game lines on college basketball are popular during the regular season, but many overlook it during March Madness in favor of bracket pools or contests.

Rather than putting all your hopes on brackets, betting on individual March Madness games can spread out your risk of major upsets. Closely following March Madness game odds can also help you make better picks for your brackets.

This page covers all the ways you can bet on March Madness plus live March Madness futures & game odds direct from legal online sportsbooks.

March Madness futures odds

While March Madness doesn’t happen until, well, March, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to bet on it. NCAA March Madness futures odds are available nearly year-round, so you can bet on the winner well in advance.

Sportsbooks adjust the odds to win March Madness throughout the season based on performance, injuries, momentum, etc. If your team starts the year cold but you expect it to lock in by spring, you might find good odds to get an early bet down on.

See below for the current odds on March Madness favorites direct from Ohio online sportsbooks. Click on any odds to go directly to the sportsbook to start placing March Madness bets.

How to bet on 2024 March Madness online in Ohio

Signing up for an online sportsbook is easy in Ohio.

  • To start, head to the Ohio online sportsbook of your choice to register your account. Fill out any necessary information such as your email, date of birth, real name and password. Make sure you use real information so there’s no hold-ups when it comes time to deposit or withdraw money.
  • If necessary, verify your identity and accept any terms and conditions.
  • Once you’ve created your account, make sure to claim any bonus bets or other promotions so they are part of your account.
  • After you’ve done that, it’s wise to download the app of the sportsbook(s) you’ve signed up for. With an app, you can bet from anywhere within state lines from your phone. Additionally, the apps make it easy to track your bets and any line movements.
  • If necessary, deposit funds with any of the available payment methods.
  • Scroll through the app and find where you want to place your first bet.

Bet on pre-tournament March Madness seeds and props

In the days leading up to the tournament, most fans wait for the selection committee to fill out the field and then fill out their brackets accordingly. However, this is also when you can place some pre-tournament bets.

If you’re expecting a big year from the Big 10, you can bet the over or under on how many teams from the conference will qualify for the tournament. You can also bet on which teams you think will get a No. 1 seed at the start of the tournament.

Additionally, you can bet on props such as team total wins. If you think the Dayton Flyers will make a deep run, you can bet over on their total tournament wins. If you bet on the Flyers to win over 1.5 games and they make it to the Sweet 16, you have a winning ticket.

A few years ago, many of these March Madness bets didn’t exist. Sportsbooks are always seeking to expand and offer more interesting bets. Make sure to check out the pre-tournament odds and markets available before tipoff of the opening game.

How to bet directly on March Madness games

An NCAA tournament game isn’t any different from a regular-season game. In fact, when betting on March Madness games, the lines and available bets are usually the exact same as a regular-season game. There are three main wagering options to look at when betting on college basketball. The listings might look this at online sportsbooks such as DraftKings Ohio or FanDuel Ohio:

Ohio State-4.5 (-110)-170Over 133.5 (-110)
Dayton+4.5 (-110)+150Under 133.5 (-110)

Point spreads

Spread betting is the most common and popular way to bet on a college basketball game. Oddsmakers decide which team is the favorite and by how many points, and that becomes the spread number. In the above example, Ohio State is a 4.5-point favorite over Dayton.

You can then bet whether the favorite (Ohio State) will cover the spread (win by five points or more) or if the underdog (Dayton) will cover (lose by four points or less or win the game by any score). Spread bets usually have odds of around -110 on both sides, meaning you’d need to risk $110 to return a profit of $100.


For moneyline betting, margin of victory doesn’t matter. You’re simply betting on which team you think will win the game, whether it’s by one point or by 40.

In the above example, the negative Ohio State betting odds makes them the favorite to win the game. You’d need to risk $170 in order to win a profit of $100 if you bet on the Buckeyes. On the other side, Dayton is an underdog, so a $100 wager would return a profit of $150 if successful.

Totals bets

Totals are popular across all sports. Some games, you don’t know which side will win, but you expect it to either be a low-scoring, grinding affair or a back-and-forth, high-scoring contest. With the total, you simply need to decide whether the two teams will combine to go over or under the listed number of points.

What are the best March Madness bets?

  • Backing the elite teams early is usually smart. Since 2002, only one winner (UConn in 2014) has not been a top-three seed. Look to back some top teams in the futures market before the tournament starts, as their March Madness betting odds will only deplete if they keep winning as the tournament goes along.
  • Learn how to read sports lines. If a worse seed is favored over a better seed in the NCAA Tournament odds market, take note. This means that the smart bettors disagree with the committee. This may be a good indicator of an upset brewing.

What are the worst March Madness bets?

  • Betting on a No. 16 seed on the moneyline. Yes, the potential payout is notable and catches your attention. However, only one No. 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1 seed in the tournament, and don’t expect it to happen again anytime soon. If you think the 16 seed is a plucky underdog, bet on that side on the spread. You have a much better chance of winning.
  • Avoid parlays. Parlays offer inflated payouts, and at first glance, they might look like a strong bet. If you parlay four or five moneyline favorites together, it might seem as if you can’t lose. However, it’s called “March Madness” for a reason. Favorites lose all the time, and the games are unpredictable. Picking one winner correctly is hard enough, let alone multiple winners.

Can I bet on the First Four?

The NCAA Tournament officially gets underway with the “First Four.” These games cut the field from 68 to 64 and solidify the official bracket.

While many don’t consider these games as part of the tournament, and they’re rarely part of bracket contests, you can still bet on these games in Ohio. Lines will appear once the matchups are available.

March Madness betting rules at online sportsbooks

There’s usually not much to worry about when it comes to sportsbook rules in terms of March Madness betting. The teams must play at least 35 of the 40 minutes in order for a bet to be action. Otherwise, the book will refund your bet. If a game has to change dates, the book will refund the bets. All full-game and second-half bets include overtime.

Some states forbid betting on college athletic programs from within the state, but that is not the case with Ohio.

March Madness brackets vs. betting

March Madness is known for brackets. While there’s nothing wrong with filling out a bracket and joining some bracket contests, it might not be the most efficient way to bet on March Madness.

With a bracket, you must pick the result of all 63 games ahead of time. In fact, past the first round, you don’t even know what the real matchup will be. During that time frame, teams and players will go on streaks, players will get injured and other factors might change. With a bracket, you’re generally locked into your original submission.

However, if you bet on each game individually, you can pivot based on any relevant news and based on what you’ve seen in previous games. You can make an informed decision with all information available to you at the time of your bet. You’re not afforded that same luxury with a bracket.

Additionally, you can also live bet on games during the tournament. If a team is starting off the game in a shooting slump that you expect it to break out of, you can take advantage through live betting. Live betting gives you even more information before making a bet.

For more on the best free March Madness bracket contests, see our page here: