The state of Indiana knows a lot about March Madness brackets. From the dominant, Larry Bird-led Indiana State Sycamores in the 1970s to deep runs from IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Butler, Indianans have seen their bracket picks go far more than most.
Indiana has been a regional and Final Four host several times over the years, but 2021 will be even more Indiana-centric than usual. The entire NCAA tournament will take place in Indiana due to safety protocols, which will make Indianapolis and environs March Madness central for a full three weeks.
How will this affect March Madness betting in Indiana, now that legal online sports betting is here? Will there be a home court advantage for local schools? How far should you pencil in IN teams in your March Madness bracket contest? What are the best bracket contests out there this year?
Below find the best spots to get your March Madness bracket picks in at IN online sportsbooks plus some tips for making those brackets last a little longer. See the full 2021 March Madness Bracket here. Jump to the best contests here.
Free March Madness bracket contests are an easy and accessible way to get in on March Madness betting without risking anything. Typically, sportsbooks, daily fantasy sports sites, and sports media entities sponsor free March Madness contests every year with varying prize pools.
As there is no buy-in from the contestants, these prize pools can vary in generosity but typically range from $10,000 and up. DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, two of the largest sportsbook and daily fantasy sports providers, both typically offer a $250,000-$1 Million prize pool event and a couple of smaller prize pool contests as well.
Major media properties like ESPN or Yahoo! will sometimes put up a $1 million contest, but those draw millions of entrants as well and are difficult to get a sniff of any prize money. The top-scoring brackets will split the set prize pool based on their position in the final standings.
While a few 2021 March Madness bracket contests are still to be announced, here are the IN sportsbooks that will have free and paid bracket contests open to Indiana residents this year:
Was it Oral Roberts? Abilene Christian? North Texas? Loyola-Chicago?
Doesn’t matter who it was, really; we all pretty much saw our bracket sunk post-haste in typical March Madness fashion. As luck would have it, though, Irish Spring has put up another $10,o00 for a free second chance bracket contest starting at the Sweet 16. Here’s how it works:
Earn the most points and collect the whole $10k!
Likewise, if you busted from the DK $1M Survivor Pool you can jump back in for another go with the free 2nd Chance survivor pool. Same terms & conditions; create an account via the link below to play either of the DraftKings Bracket Challenges:
Much like an NFL Survivor pool, in this bracket pool all you need to do is pick one team to win each day. If your team wins its game, you move on to the next round. If your team loses, you’re out of the pool.
In each new round, though, you have to pick a new team and can’t repeat. So picking Illinois as your first-round winner, for example, isn’t the smartest move. If you run out of new teams to pick for an ensuing round (ie you’ve already picked all of the remaining teams before), you’re out then too.
The last player (or players) standing takes the entire $1,000,000. If there’s more than one of you, you chop it up accordingly.
If you’ve ever played a bracket challenge before you’ll know how to play this one. It’s a traditional bracket contest where you pick all 63 games in advance and let the chips fall where they may. The the free-to enter Yuengling contest will pay out an additional $50,000.
Scoring system is as simple as it gets:
Check full contest details at BetMGM sportsbook and sign up via the link below to enter free!
In terms of contest structure and scoring, there’s usually no difference between a paid bracket contest and a free bracket contest. However, a paid bracket contest requires the contestant to pay a fee to enter the contest.
In exchange, the prize pool is usually larger. The larger the contest, the more money you can win if your bracket finishes amongst the leaders. These sportsbooks can likely be expected to offer paid bracket contests in 2021:
One of the main reasons March Madness is so popular is that everyone can get involved. Co-workers, friends, and families all like to fill out brackets before the start of the tournament. Most entrants don’t follow, or maybe even know a thing about, college basketball let alone college basketball betting.
Filling out a bracket requires you to predict the whole tournament before a single game is played. You pick the winner of every game, and then in each subsequent round, you pick the winner of the matchups you have created.
This often leads, as we all know, to having a team you picked to go far in your bracket get eliminated on the first day of the tournament. If you picked Indiana to win the whole tournament, but they lose in the Round of 32, you know there’s no way you’ll pick up any of those potential points.
You can join free contests or paid contests. In a free contest, the prize pool is static and doesn’t change no matter how many players are in the contest. Winners will split the prize pool based on what it was set at before the tournament. In a paid contest, you must pay to enter the contest. In exchange, every entry makes the prize pool larger.
Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to filling out a bracket as opposed to just betting every game individually.
Brackets get busted. By the end of the first weekend of the tournament, you’ll probably have lost some Elite Eight teams, and likely a Final Four team as well.
Maybe you’ve gotten unlucky and lost your champion. With a second chance bracket, your tournament rooting interests can be reinvigorated.
DraftKings, for example, ran a very popular $16,000 second chance bracket contest in 2019 that started entirely with the Sweet 16 games. Contestants filled out an entirely new bracket and picked the winners from that point forward.
Most NCAA March Madness bracket contests use standard scoring. Some brackets give bonus points for correctly picking upsets, but for the most part that is done in more personal and smaller pools.
Sportsbooks will use this scoring system for most of their contests: Each correct team you pick to win in the below rounds will give you the stated amount of points.
You can afford to get a few games wrong in the early rounds with this scoring system. However, if you start losing teams you picked to go deep in the tournament, you might be in trouble.
Betting on sports in Indiana is easy now that legal online sportsbooks are here, and therefore it’s simple to get into a March Madness contest; free or paid. Here are some simple steps:
Filling out a winning bracket is hard, so it should be no surprise to know that many fail terribly. With the high failure rate, bracket contests and pools payout well for the winner.
A good mindset to have with March Madness bracket competitions is that you shouldn’t expect to win. The odds are low that you’d be able to master the bracket better than everyone in your contest. However, here are some tips to give yourself better odds.
When joining a contest, join with the mindset of having fun and enjoying the ride of ups and downs that is March Madness. Winning is an unexpected bonus.
Sixty-eight teams were originally selected for the tournament. 37 teams receive an “at-large” bid while 31 teams automatically qualify due to conference tournaments.
At-large bids are usually the most controversial, as the committee ranks teams based on a myriad of factors such as record, quality of competition, bad losses, good wins, analytics, injuries, current form, and more. Those teams that receive the most votes are given an at-large bid.
When the field is set, seeding is determined by a similar process that involves the committee grouping and ranking teams against each other. The bracket is then filled out based on the seeding of teams as determined by the committee.
There are four play-in games every year. The four worst “at-large” teams will play to determine the final two 11 seeds. Also, the four worst teams who receive automatic bids will play each other with only two securing bids to the round of 64 as 16 seeds.
Due to the pandemic, the whole tournament will take place in Indiana this year. The locations include Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Lucas Oil Stadium. The Elite Eight and Final Four will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The schedule for the tournament is as follows:
Just because the focus of March Madness is on brackets does not mean you can’t bet the games like normal basketball games. You can bet each game individually as you would on any random game during the season.
You can bet on teams against the spread. You can simply pick the winner on the moneyline. Additionally, you can bet on the game going over or under the total. You can find out more about these bets on our main March Madness betting page.
Brackets are released after Selection Sunday once the field of teams and the seeds are known.
Each contest has specific rules as to how many times you can enter. Some brackets limit you to one entry while others allow you to enter as many times as you can afford. Check the contest rules for the specific contest you would like to enter.
You might be thinking about submitting multiple brackets with every single combination possible. Good luck. There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 different possible combinations of a March Madness bracket. That’s over 9.2 quintillions.
If you’re flipping a coin for each matchup, you have a one-in-9.2 quintillion chance of a perfect bracket. It’s estimated the odds for someone with above-average basketball knowledge is about one-in-120 billion.
There are 63 games in the tournament, and the longest ever streak of correct games to begin a tournament is 49 games. It was set in 2019 by Gregg Nigl.
It’s estimated by the American Gaming Association that 40 million unique Americans fill out a total of 70 million brackets.