Money Management During March Madness

The NCAA Basketball Tournament is a Season unto Itself

There are 64 games in the NCAA Basketball Tournament with the pattern of games being 1, 32, 16, 8, 4, 2 and 1. That first game is played out of the normal bracket and became a reality when the NCAA added the 64th and 65th teams. The Big Dance lasts a total of three weeks.

NCAA Basketball Tourney Game Breakdown

More than half of the games are played in the first week. There are a total of 49 games in that initial week. The second week has 12 games and the final week just three. That means that there’s a lot of incentive to wager on a lot of games in the first week.

But do you really want to bet on 49 games in that first week? The answer is no. In fact, you don’t want to think about all of those games at once. The first thing to do is break the games in rounds one and two into small segments. (Note, we are leaving the Tuesday play-in game out of the equation.  You may elect to bet it or not.)

Week One

Round One: Thursday 16 games.

Round One: Friday 16 games.

Round Two: Saturday 8 games.

Round Two: Sunday 8 games.

You want to break down the next rounds in the following way.

Week Two

Regional Semifinals: Thursday and Friday 8 games.

Regional Finals: Saturday and Sunday 4 games.

And the last week can be divided in this manner.

Week Three

National Semifinals: Saturday 2 games.

Championship Game: Monday 1 game.

Bankroll and Units

Using the above breakdown, you’ll need to determine your bankroll, the worth of a unit and how many units you have to wager. As an example, let’s assume you’ve got a bankroll of $300 for the entire tournament and a unit is worth $5.00. That means that with the 10% commission charged by sports books, which adds 50 cents to every unit, you have a total of about 54 units to bet.

You want to ensure that you have enough units to bet over the course of the entire tournament. You should have a good shot at winning at least two of the last three tournament games since you’ll have a solid idea about how each team is likely to perform. Hold back 12 units for the final week. That leaves you with 42 units for the rest of the March Madness.

Use the following unit breakdown for the rest of the tournament.

Round One: You’ll place 16 units on 10 to 12 games (there are 32 games).

Round Two: Place 12 units on eight to 10 games (there are 16 games).

Regional Semifinals: Put eight units on five to six games (there are 8 games).

Regional Finals: Bet six units on four games (there are 4 games).

National Semifinals: Bet six units on the two games.

Championship Game: Bet six units on the last game.

The total number of units bet is 54, which are spread over 30 to 35 games. That’s 48% to 52% of the games.

The Way it Works

What you are doing is betting a higher percentage of games as you progress from Round One through to the end. However, you are numerically betting fewer games and risking fewer units. Overall, you’re averaging 1.5 units per game throughout the tournament putting anywhere from one to three units on each of the games up until the National Semifinals.

The point is to ensure that you have enough units in each round to make a profit no matter what happens in the round before. Also, the idea is that as the tournament goes on there will be fewer surprises and you’ll be able to hit a higher percentage of your wagers.

If You’re Winning

If you find yourself ahead after Round One is finished, then take half of your winnings and add those to your unit totals for the next round. If you even out or lose in the Second Round, then bet no more than eight units on the Regional Semifinals. If you win in Round Two, once again take half of the profits from that round and add them to your unit total for the Regional Semifinals.

Keep it Steady

The important thing to do during March Madness is to not get caught up in the madness. Keep an even keel and you’ll have a good chance of making some cash on the NCAA Basketball Tournament.