When March rolls around, basketball rules. March Madness is one of the biggest sporting events of the calendar year. For three epic weeks, there’s a whole slew of basketball games with incredibly high stakes.
The excitement of March Madness translates into lots of eyeballs glued to the TV, year after year. Watching the action and rooting for your team is loads of fun. It’s even more exciting when you have a little skin in the game. Legal online sportsbooks and sportsbooks apps are now available in Iowa with plenty of ways to bet on March Madness.
Our guide to March Madness betting in Iowa will cover everything you need to know, from what bets to place to bracket-picking tips and the latest live odds from Iowa online sportsbooks.
Check our live NCAA Tournamnet bracket below to see consensus odds for each match-up. Then check the live odds feed below the bracket for how the current odds look at individual Iowa online sportsbooks.
You’ll see both live game lines (point spreads, moneyline, totals) and live futures odds for making the Final Four and winning the National Championship. Click on any odds in the feed below the bracket to head to that sportsbook, claim your bonus and start getting your bets down.
You can bet on March Madness legally and safely in Iowa. Sports betting was legalized in May 2019, with the official rollout coming just a few months later. To get in the betting game, you’re going to need a place to play. The top options are all featured on this site, and getting started is easy. To begin, follow our exclusive links. You’ll arrive at a site’s sign-up page and possibly gain access to a bonus.
At the sign-up page, you’ll be prompted to enter share some basic info about yourself, including your name and date of birth. You’ll then verify that all your information is correct, check off some boxes and click on the submit button. That’s it. We’re talking a few minutes at the most. Next, take the time to download the app for your device directly from the sportsbook’s website. The sportsbook app will give you on-the-go access no matter where you are in Iowa. After you log in online and with the app, your account is ready to roll.
From there, it’s time to add some funds to your sportsbook wallet and select a wager. Deposit options will likely include debit cards and bank transfers, while the upcoming college basketball games you can bet on will appear on the list of sports available. The games will appear in the main betting lobby. Once you find the game you want to bet on, click on the odds for your choice. It’ll transfer to the betting slip, where you just have to add in your bet amount, verify that all is well and click “Submit” to make it official.
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee sets the field for March Madness. There are 31 automatic qualifiers — teams that win their conference tournaments — and 37 at-large teams for 68 clubs. The schedule is laid out in bracket format.
The bracket is broken down into four regions with 16 teams in each. To get to that number, eight teams compete in the “First Four” games to whittle down the total number of squads to 64. From there, the tournament is single-elimination. Winners will advance, while losers will go home. That’s how the bracket works for tournament purposes, but there’s a lot more to see. There are bracket contests that you can play for the chance to win real prizes.
Local pools with friends and coworkers are a popular option, but you can also find plenty online. For the online contests, some are free, while others require an entry fee. The free contests may offer big prize pools, but the chances of winning are slim. That’s because they attract legions of contestants, so you’ll have to do well to make any kind of noise. The typical contest requires users to fill out the bracket in its entirety. You get points, depending on how many picks you get right.
Bracket competitions can be lots of fun and potentially lucrative if the stars line up right. However, they’re also tough to win. You may end up finding better luck wagering on single games throughout the tournament. We’ll explain how that works in a bit.
March Madness is a big time of the year for sportsbooks. Each game attracts lots of betting action, and you can also expect to see themed promotions and bonuses available as books look to bring in as much business as possible. Additionally, you’ll find some bracket competitions to consider. Some of them may be free to play, while others might require an entry fee. While we can’t say for sure what sportsbooks, such as DraftKings IA and PointsBet in Iowa, have up their sleeve, we expect it to be something good.
For example, DraftKings Sportsbook IA has a section on its website dedicated to betting pools. There are some free options to sort through, as well as some that require an entry fee. Scoring and payouts may vary, but some offer the whole pot to the winner. Other options may include some of those massive online bracket competitions we mentioned earlier. Online sportsbooks may offer something similar, but the same note of caution applies. You can look to these contests for entertainment, but don’t bank on winning.
From the opening game straight through to the national title tilt, you’ll have plenty of betting options to explore during March Madness. Sportsbooks will post odds for each game for your consideration. When you scroll through the upcoming slate of games, you’ll see individual listings like this:
|Minnesota||+3.5 (-110)||+135||O 129.5 (-110)|
|Iowa||-3.5 (-110)||-155||U 129.5 (-110)|
The three sets of numbers following the team names are the odds and lines for point spread, moneyline and total wagers on the game. For the spread and total, there’s a baseline number that the oddsmakers set, followed by the odds for the bet.
On spread and moneyline bets, negative numbers indicate favorites, while underdogs get positive numbers. For this example, the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team is favored by 3.5 points over Minnesota Gophers. The Hawkeyes also are favored on the moneyline in a game with a projected total of 129.5. Here’s how the three bets work.
All three of these bet types will attract plenty of volume for each game on the docket, but they aren’t the only ways to wager. Here’s a quick explanation of some other popular bet types:
Also, keep in mind that you’ll have the chance to place live bets on many games. Online sportsbooks will release updated March Madness odds as the games play out that are available for wagering. Please note that Iowa prohibits prop bets on college players.
In a bracket competition, you have to be right on many games to have a reasonable chance at winning. Meanwhile, you only have to make the correct call on a single outcome when betting on individual games. As such, those looking for a realistic chance at turning a profit during March Madness may want to shift their focus over to the wagering side.
A futures bet is a wager you can place on a full-season or championship outcome. For college basketball, many of the most popular futures bets revolve around March Madness. Here’s a peek at what you can bet on:
For the outright winner and Final Four, you’ll see March Madness betting odds released in the offseason. These two markets are active with bets coming in all season long. The odds are usually listed in descending order, with favorites on top and long-shots at the bottom. Here’s what the numbers might look like for a few favorites:
The idea is to find the selections you want at the best possible prices, naturally, in hopes of landing on the winner. For your reference, a winning $100 bet on Iowa at odds of +850 would return a whopping $850. Odds for other March Madness futures will come out closer to tournament time, and offerings may vary by the sportsbook. Additionally, keep in mind that there can be differences in futures odds between books. You should always shop around in a bid to find the best prices.
There are four Division I men’s basketball programs in the state: Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake. The Hawkeyes lose all-time leading scorer Luka Garza as he pursues his NBA dreams, but Iowa should have a solid core coming back for the 2021-22 season.
Drake reached the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference championship game and received an at-large bid to 2021 March Madness with a 26-5 record. The Bulldogs have a solid group in line for a return to campus. They’ll add Tucker DeVries — a top 100 recruit who happens to be the son of coach Darian DeVries.
With a losing record, Northern Iowa’s season came to a close at the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference tournament. UNI is a good candidate for a turnaround, depending on the health of 2021 preseason conference player of the year AJ Green. The Panthers lost Green in the third game of the season to hip surgery and the team struggled in his absence.
Iowa State wrapped up a historically-bad season in 2021 and parted ways with coach Steve Prohm. He was succeeded by T.J. Otzelberger. The former UNLV and South Dakota State coach is familiar with Ames. He served under three different Iowa State coaches and is noted for his recruiting prowess. Otzelberger is 99-63 as a Division I coach.
Here’s a look at how the four programs fared last season and during their most recent appearance in March Madness:
If you have experience with betting on hoops, you can apply the same basic handicapping principles to March Madness. For example, you should examine the matchups to look for edges and weaknesses while also paying attention to the stats that move the needle. Beyond the basics, here’s a handful of tips:
Having a good handle on how you want to approach March Madness can be a key component to finding success, but there’s also a lot to be said for knowing what to avoid. Here are three bets that fall into that category:
Actionable tips and knowing the bets to shy away from making for a great start, but that’s not all. There are some mistakes that bettors of all experience levels make over and over again. Don’t be that person and avoid the following:
When betting on basketball at online sportsbooks, the house rules cover all the ins and outs, including bet placement and settlement. Each legal sportsbook has a set of rules, but some practices are pretty standard across the industry. Here are some of the most important points:
While that covers the basic gist of what you need to know, it’s still good practice to review the house rules at the sportsbook sites and apps. Unusual circumstances could pop up, so it’s a good idea to know how a sportsbook will handle them to save yourself from any confusion or surprises.
The modern era of March Madness goes back to 1985 when the field was expanded to 64 teams, while the inaugural NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament was held in 1939. Through the years, there have been a lot of memorable individual performances. Comparing eras can be challenging, so let’s begin by looking at five stellar performers from back in the day:
There are plenty of players worthy of inclusion on the all-time list from the early days of the NCAA Tournament, and the same holds true for the modern era. That said, a handful stands out and are among the first names bandied about whenever the debate pops up:
Normally, the early rounds of March Madness are at several arenas across the nation. When it’s time for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, regional hubs take over, while there’s a host city for the Final Four and national championship game. This time around, the events will be a bit different.
The NCAA will host the entire tournament in Indianapolis. The dates for all rounds have been announced, and the tourney kicks off with Selection Sunday on March 14, followed by:
Regardless of whether the tournament is held in multiple locations or a single city, it shapes up to be a fun and exciting ride as usual. If we look at the futures market, the following teams are consensus favorites to make it to the Final Four:
Behind that group of teams is another batch of serious contenders, a list that includes programs such as Iowa, Florida State, Ohio State, Houston and Alabama. We can expect the futures market to stay active as additional twists and turns develop throughout the season, so be sure to stay engaged and keep your eyes open for opportunities.