Did You Bet March Madness Futures? Ways To Hedge Those Wagers

The correct initial futures allow for hedging to maximize potential


March 23

Making wagers on the correct future bets in the NCAA Tournament creates an opportunity for a bettor to capitalize on those down the road.

We’re at that point of March Madness with the tournament’s Sweet 16 scheduled to kick off Thursday night with four games before another four Friday. So if you’re holding a championship ticket on a team like Houston, Alabama, UCLA, Texas, UConn, Gonzaga or even Creighton, TCU or Michigan State there are ways to turn those bets into a potential profit with a hedge.

In sports betting, a hedge allows a bettor to basically guarantee a profit due to a wager that was previously placed. And disclaimer: Hedging is personal choice. They’re your bets, after all, and nobody should be able to tell you whether or not to put more money down on another wager.

While acknowledging just that on his latest podcast episode of “Chicken Dinner,” NESN betting analyst Sam Panayotovich explained ways to capitalize on a future bet in the NCAA Tournament.

The odds have changed, of course. Alabama was 5-1 to win the title on FanDuel Sportsbook before the tournament and now sits at +330. There’s bigger differences elsewhere like UConn, who was 24-1 before its first-round game and now is +850, and Texas, who was 19-1 before the tournament and now is 10-1. Essentially, you’re not going to get the same bang for your buck, but there’s nevertheless an increased chance at profit.

“There’s no right or wrong answer here and it’s more art than science,” Panayotovich said on the podcast. “But if you made the right future bet, it can lead you to other bets. That’s my thing. You want to try to get as many live bullets as you can to the Final Four.”

Perhaps the best mindset to have, according to Panayotovich, is to not over hedge in the region where you have a future but instead give yourself another chance in a different region.

For example, if you have a Texas title ticket, it’s better to stray elsewhere like the South (Alabama) or West (UCLA, Gonzaga, UConn) than take Houston, who’s in the same Midwest region. Similarly, if you have UCLA, it’s better to go to the South (Alabama) or Midwest region (Houston, Texas) than it is to go with UConn in the same West bracket. And just for the sake of the exercise, if you have an Alabama future, it’s better to go to the right side of the bracket with those aforementioned teams from the Midwest and West regions. As Panayotovich put it, it’s about adding to the portfolio.

You’ll probably notice there weren’t any teams from the East region mentioned there. Yeah, that was done on purpose as it feels like more of a crapshoot with Tennessee (11-1), Michigan State (25-1) and Kansas State (30-1) all jockeying for a Final Four berth. And all three feel less likely to win the whole thing, depicted by their prices.

“You don’t want to over hedge in your own region, you want to give yourself as many chances to get to the Final Four in different regions,” Panayotovich said. “That’s how I view tournament hedging. And again, not saying this is only way to do it.”

Getting a future at this point, unsurprisingly, won’t be as valuable as it was before the tournament. That’s what happens when the NCAA Tournament winds down and there are only 16 teams left. Just like if you wait until Saturday morning after the Sweet 16 but before the Elite Eight, those prices will be impacted again.

“You’re not going to get good math at this point because there’s only 16 teams left,” said Panayotovich, who explained how he’s going to sprinkle on Alabama since he already has futures on Texas and Creighton with Massachusetts free bets on UConn and UCLA. “To me, it’s more about path than math.

“If you have bullets on two or three teams and you have the ability to add team like ‘Bama or team like Houston, and if your bets on Creighton, Gonzaga, Arkansas or whoever leads you to a position where you can bet a very good basketball team in the Sweet 16, this is the time to hedge,” Panayotovich said. “I wouldn’t want you to wait until the Final Four and get Alabama at +180 or something.”

Again, hedging bets in any setting like the NCAA Tournament is a personal decision. Some bettors might be more comfortable doing it than others, depending on the situation and bank roll. But its the correct initial future bet that allows the ability to maximize on the opportunity.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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