How To Bet On March’s Biggest NCAA Basketball Games (2021 Guide)


When it comes to college basketball, March has always been the most thrilling time of year. With last year’s big tournament canceled due to the pandemic, a basketball frenzy is taking over Las Vegas, and sports fans are looking forward to placing their bets for this year’s NCAA games. Getting ready to place your bets on the big NCAA basketball tournament coming up next month? We’re covering how to bet on basketball and where you can cheer on your favorite teams in Downtown Las Vegas.

The Point Spread Bet

Basketball and Money

Betting on the spread is easily the most popular way to bet on basketball. For each game, oddsmakers equalize the teams with a point spread to make it easier for bettors to place a wager on either team, rather than simply betting on who will win. Instead, you place a bet that a particular team will win by a specific number of points set by the oddsmakers.

The team expected to win, or the favorite team, is listed as being minus (-) for the point spread. The underdog team is listed as being plus (+) for the point spread. For example, Arizona is favored to win over Washington, so let’s say the spread is listed as Washington +5.5 and Arizona -5.5. If you bet on the underdog, Washington beats the spread by losing by 5 points or less, or winning the game outright. Likewise, Arizona beats the spread if they win by 6 points or more. If the favorite team wins by more points than the spread, this is called “covering” the spread.

Money Line Bets

Placing a money line bet means you’re making a straight bet on which team you think will win the game. However, teams are not always evenly matched, so you can’t expect the same payout for both teams. Because it’s riskier to bet on the underdog, your payout will always be more than if you bet on the favorite to win. These odds are represented by negative and positive numbers. For example:

  • Baylor +280
  • Gonzaga -340

In this case, Baylor is the underdog at +280. This means if you bet $100, you will win $280, in addition to getting your original $100 back. Conversely, you would have to bet $340 on Gonzaga to win $100. You don’t win as much because Baylor is a less risky bet.

Totals (Over/Under) Bets

Sports Betting Ticket

A totals bet, also known as the over/under, is another popular way to bet on basketball. Rather than betting on a particular team to either win or cover the spread, you’re betting that the total points scored during the game will either be over or under a number set by the oddsmakers.

Let’s say the over/under number for the Tennessee-Texas game is 142. You can either bet that the combined total score of the two teams will go over 142, or stay under 142. Pay odds for over/under bets are typically -110, meaning you have to bet $11 to win $10 plus your original bet. It’s an easy wager to place, especially if you don’t know too much about sports betting, because there are really only two choices.

Parlay Bets

If you’re looking for a more lucrative and suspenseful betting option, parlays allow you to bet on multiple games on a single betting ticket. To play a parlay, you must select two or more wagers. The more outcomes you choose, the higher the potential payout if you win all the bets you selected. You could, for example, bet on the Over in one game, and bet on a team to cover the spread in another game. This is what makes parlay betting fun, as you can make several different types of wagers by only risking a single bet.

Keep in mind that you must win ALL your chosen bets to get a payout, so it’s more difficult to win with more bets placed on that ticket. If you lose one bet, you lose the parlay.

However, the pay odds are exponentially more with every wager! You could potentially turn a small amount of money into a big payout by winning all the bets on your parlay ticket.

How To Place Your Bets

betting on sports

In Las Vegas, sportsbooks make it easy to place your bets at the counter, using self-serve kiosks at the sportsbook, or making a wager through an online app. The William Hill Sportsbook at Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino offers all three options, so you can place your bet however you feel most comfortable.

When you get to the sportsbook, all available wagers will be on a display board with a designated rotation number. This number is universal across all sportsbooks and makes it easier for bettors to identify the specific bet they want to make. Rather than explaining to the ticket writer at the counter which bet you’d like to place, all you have to do is give them the rotation number, and they’ll know exactly which bet you want to make.

For example, if you want to bet on the Texas Tech point spread and the rotation number for Texas Tech is 540, you can tell the ticket writer, “I would like to bet 540 to win $100.” This means you are placing a bet that Texas Tech will cover the point spread in order for you to win $100.

How Will The 2021 NCAA Tournament Be Different Due To COVID-19?

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the sporting world has drastically changed. Some seasons were cut short, players had to sit out some games, and fans were not able to fill the stands and stadiums as they always have. College basketball is just one of the sports affected by COVID-19, and the NCAA continues to make adjustments to keep players and fans safe.

For one, the entire tournament will be played in only one location—Indianapolis, Indiana. The NCAA website1 also shared that all competing teams will have dedicated floors at hotels, physically distanced meeting and dining rooms, and secure transportation from the hotel to the practice and competition venues.

Lastly, the bracket will be a little different as well. Without consideration for geographic locations, teams will be placed in the bracket based on rankings. NCAA refers to this as the “S-curve” to fill the bracket. Also, there will be one more at-large selection than normal and one fewer automatic qualifiers than normal. Read more about the NCAA 2021 bracketing changes2 before placing your bets!

“March Mania” Slot Tournament At Downtown Grand

From March 18 to March 20, 2021, Downtown Grand will be hosting a special March Mania slot tournament! Enter for a chance to win $1,000 plus different tournament bonuses every day. Be sure to sign up for a Grand Rewards membership and get full details and rules for our March Mania slot tournament at the Grand Reward booth in the casino.

We will be showing all the big matchups at our William Hill Sportsbook, so you can place your bets and enjoy the hottest NCAA Tournament games at Downtown Grand. We will be enforcing social distancing guidelines and mask requirements while inside the casino to ensure #GOODCLEANFUN while visiting us! Learn more about our COVID-19 safety initiatives and how we’re doing our part to keep you safe.



1 Wilco, Daniel. NCAA. (2 February 2021). What is March Madness: The NCAA tournament explained. Retrieved 11 February from

2 NCAA. (15 January 2021). New bracketing principles adopted for 2021 NCAA tournament. Retrieved 11 February 2021 from

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