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Sports The 14 best bets to make on the NCAA Tournament before your bracket gets busted

Make these bets before the NCAA Tournament begins and you'll still have something to root once even if your bracket gets busted before Friday morning.

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Grayson Allen and the Duke Blue Devils enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed. play

Grayson Allen and the Duke Blue Devils enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed.

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Across the country, millions of people are fine-tuning their brackets to find perfection and win their March Madness pool.

But while the NCAA Tournament may be the most significant event of the year for casual gamblers building brackets, it also provides plenty of other exhilarating gambling options for bettors.

Let's face it: most brackets go bust. But thankfully, Las Vegas offers tons of other bets that will keep you on the edge of your seat regardless of how your bracket is doing.

Below are our best bets for the NCAA Tournament to carry your excitement beyond the first weekend of action. All lines come courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Over/Under 5.5 wins combined by AAC teams

Over/Under 5.5 wins combined by AAC teams play

Over/Under 5.5 wins combined by AAC teams

(Mark Brown/Getty Images)

The teams you get: Cincinnati, Houston, Wichita State

The bet: Over 5.5 combined wins by AAC teams ($200 to win $210)

The logic: The AAC is a perennially overlooked conference come March and always feels like its teams are ready to surprise. Cincinnati has only lost four times all season and has a pretty reasonable path to the Sweet 16 and beyond as a No. 2 seed. Wichita State is a team full of seniors who understand the machinations of the tournament. And Houston is a frisky No. 6 seed that I think could cause some chaos.

Between the three of them, I am pretty confident they can scrounge up six wins.



Over/Under 14 wins combined by ACC teams

Over/Under 14 wins combined by ACC teams play

Over/Under 14 wins combined by ACC teams

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The teams you get: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech

The bet: Over 14 wins combined by ACC teams ($110 to win $100)

The logic: Whether you want to bet the over or under on this one, I highly recommend putting some money down on this bet before it locks up, as no bet in March Madness will generate more chaos. Personally, I'm taking the over here. I like either Virginia or Duke to win the whole dang tournament, and if that happens, that leaves just eight more wins for the rest of the field to muster to at least get to a push.

One note — if you want to bet this one, you have to get your money down before tip-off on Wednesday, as Syracuse's First Four matchup will count towards your eventual win total.



Over/Under 8 wins combined by Big 10 teams

Over/Under 8 wins combined by Big 10 teams play

Over/Under 8 wins combined by Big 10 teams

(Al Goldis/AP)

The teams you get: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue

The bet: Under 8 wins combined by Big 10 teams ($100 to win $110)

The logic: This group has a No. 2 seed, two No. 3 seeds, and a No. 5 seed. If every team just took care of business and made it through the first weekend of play, they'd at least guarantee you get your money back.

But I'm betting against them. Chaos prospers during March Madness. Betting the under here, and you'll be screaming off your seat should either No. 14 seed underdog be able to take down their Michigan-based opponent in the first round.



Over/Under 11.5 wins combined by No. 1 seeds

Over/Under 11.5 wins combined by No. 1 seeds play

Over/Under 11.5 wins combined by No. 1 seeds

(Elsa/Getty Images)

The teams you get: Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier

The bet: Over 11.5 wins combined by No. 1 seeds ($110 to win $100)

The logic: I would call this a sucker bet any other year, but the narrative heading into this year's tournament was "This year, more than ever, anyone can win."

Any narrative that takes over the greater sports-zeitgeist is usually wrong, so with so much love for potential upsets and lower seeds coming through, rooting for chalk is almost contrarian at this point. There's a 90% chance I'm overthinking this.



Over/Under 10.5 wins combined by No. 2 seeds

Over/Under 10.5 wins combined by No. 2 seeds play

Over/Under 10.5 wins combined by No. 2 seeds

(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The teams you get: Cincinnati, Duke, North Carolina, Purdue

The bet: Under 10.5 wins combined by No. 2 seeds ($100 to win $100)

The logic: Call this a hedge against my earlier bets on the AAC and ACC, but betting the under on No. 2 seeds feels like the smart play after picking the over on the No. 1 seeds. Also, this seems like a good point to address the fact that I would not recommend you bet every bet in this column, but instead pick your favorites and place your money from there.



Over/Under 6.5 wins combined by No. 4 seeds

Over/Under 6.5 wins combined by No. 4 seeds play

Over/Under 6.5 wins combined by No. 4 seeds

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The teams you get: Arizona, Wichita State, Gonzaga, Auburn

The bet: Over 6.5 wins combined by No. 4 seeds ($260 to win $200)

The logic: This is a fun pick that gives you four great teams in the tournament — I like the No.4 seeds better than the No. 3 teams this year. Wichita State and Gonzaga are both stalwarts of the tournament and know what it takes to make it to the second weekend. Arizona is a wild card, with one of the best players in the country in unstoppable center Deandre Ayton, and Auburn is a scrappy team that has taken all comers this season under the leadership of Bruce Pearl.

To win the bet, each team needs to win their first round matchup, and then three need to move on to the Sweet 16. Or you can get an extra win from one of them taking down a No. 1 seed to move on to the Elite Eight. There's a few ways to win this one, and it gives you the chance to bet on four of the most fun teams in the tournament all in one go.



Over/Under 3 wins by Duke

play

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The pick: Under 3 wins by Duke ($130 to win $100)

The logic: You win if Duke loses in the first two rounds. You lose if Duke makes it to the Final Four. Personally, I bet against Duke and specifically Grayson Allen at every opportunity, purely out of spite. I am a bitter, bitter man.



Will Gonzaga make the Sweet 16?

Will Gonzaga make the Sweet 16? play

Will Gonzaga make the Sweet 16?

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The pick: Yes, Gonzaga will make the Sweet 16 ($160 to win $100)

The logic: Gonzaga is a team with tournament experience and a pretty reasonable path to the Sweet 16. I like South Dakota State to upset Ohio State on the other side of their section of the bracket, setting up a potentially easier second-round matchup for the Bulldogs.



Will West Virginia make the Sweet 16?

Will West Virginia make the Sweet 16? play

Will West Virginia make the Sweet 16?

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The pick: No, West Virginia will not make the Sweet 16 ($120 to win $100)

The logic: Far be it from me to doubt Bob Huggins, but the Mountaineers have quite a daunting path to the Sweet 16. In the first round, they take on a Murray State team that has won 13 straight games heading into the tournament. Should they prevail there, West Virginia would have a second-round matchup against Wichita State between them and the second weekend. I don't like their chances.



Will Texas Tech make the Sweet 16?

Will Texas Tech make the Sweet 16? play

Will Texas Tech make the Sweet 16?

(John Weast/Getty Images)

The pick: No, Texas Tech will not make the Sweet 16 ($100 to win $125)

The logic: Texas Tech also has a harder-than-expected path to the second weekend of tournament action. In the first round their go against Stephen F. Austin — a small team that is no stranger to playing spoiler in the first round of the tournament. Whether they play Florida or St. Bonaventure in the second round, my money would be against the Red Raiders.



Will Tennessee make the Sweet 16?

Will Tennessee make the Sweet 16? play

Will Tennessee make the Sweet 16?

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The pick: Yes, Tennessee will make the Sweet 16 ($140 to win $100)

The logic: I've watched Tennessee play three times this season, and they've impressed me each time I've seen them. Sometimes that's all it takes to earn the trust of my wallet. They might have to face Loyola in the second round, which I like as one of the double-digit seeds to make some noise in this tournament, but I would've liked them better in basically any other spot in the bracket.



Over/Under 34.5 largest margin of victory in the first round

Over/Under 34.5 largest margin of victory in the first round play

Over/Under 34.5 largest margin of victory in the first round

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The pick: Over 34.5 largest margin of victory in the first round ($110 to win $100)

The logic: This bet has hit for four years straight. Usually, it's in a No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup, but you get every game with this bet, so if some random team decides to lay the smack down in their first game of the tournament, that also works to your benefit.

For those who just love the thrill of gambling, this is a great way to keep you on the edge of your seat when Kansas sits all of its starters with ten minutes left defending a 30-point lead.



Will a No. 1 seed win the tournament?

Will a No. 1 seed win the tournament? play

Will a No. 1 seed win the tournament?

(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The teams you get: Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier

The pick: Yes, a No. 1 seed wins the national championship ($100 to win $145)

The logic: While researching some trends of past tournaments, I found that No. 1 seeds have won 17 of the past 25 national championships. Getting favorable odds on a pattern that hits 68% of the time feels like a smart investment to me.



Will any ACC team win the tournament?

Will any ACC team win the tournament? play

Will any ACC team win the tournament?

(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

The teams you get: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech

The pick: Yes, an ACC team wins the national championship ($100 to win $190)

The logic: Again, an excellent time to remind you to pick the bets you like rather than bet every pick I make in this column. And I know I'm contradicting myself and the previous bet I made regarding a No. 1 seed winning the tournament. Whatever. I am large. I contain multitudes.

Similar to the ACC over/under bet, this one is a lot of fun because of how many outs it gives you. Virginia, Duke, and UNC all have a live shot at making the Final Four and are all attacking the semifinal from different regions of the bracket. Not to mention the potential for a wild run from Clemson or NC State that could make this bet even more interesting.

Anyway, if Virginia wins it all, I'll win both these bets and look like a super genius.

Go Cavaliers.



More March Madness:



Now check out one player to know from each team competing in the NCAA Tournament this year.

Now check out one player to know from each team competing in the NCAA Tournament this year. play

Now check out one player to know from each team competing in the NCAA Tournament this year.

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

One player to know from all 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament



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