Each year, tens of millions of fans tune in to watch college basketball, making it one of the most popular sports in the United States.

From the perspective of a sports fan, particularly a basketball fan, college basketball offers some things that professional basketball simply cannot. For example, unlike the NBA, more teams have the chance to win the National Championship as the tournament is single elimination as opposed to a best-of-seven series. Additionally, there are fewer games during the regular season, which makes each game more important to the competing teams, unlike a typical 82-game season, which can be full of meaningless games. These factors, along with dedicated fan bases that can produce serious home court advantages, provide an atmosphere that many view as more competitive and “genuine” than pro basketball. Add to the mix that the game itself is different with a greater emphasis on “team ball” as opposed to one-on-one play with star players, and it is readily apparent that college basketball can appeal to more fans than the NBA.

From a betting perspective, college basketball presents some serious wagering opportunities, the biggest of which is the odds to win the NCAA tournament. In fact, the Vegas odds March Madness presents each year are one of the hottest topics in the sports betting community and are of regular interest.

College basketball futures are essentially bets that are placed on a specific event or award ahead of time. Each of these bets come with odds that are updated throughout the course of the NCAA basketball season. Obviously the most popular futures to place involve the National Championship, with NCAA tournament odds driving the most interest. However, there are other futures bets fans can make, including conference championships, conference tournaments, and even college basketball national awards such as the MVP, Power Forward of the Year, Small Forward of the Year, Point Guard of the Year, and more.

College basketball futures are relatively speaking easy bets to make. Fans who are interested in betting need only check sportsbooks for available futures bets to make, set up an account (if they haven’t already), and place their desired wager(s). Take for example March Madness futures. For example, fans looking to bet on a team such as the Michigan State Spartans need to check the NCAA tournament odds first. We at Sidelines recommend performing an odds comparison first to ensure that you’re placing your bets with the best odds available in order to maximize your potential payout. After all, given that futures odds are higher before the season typically begins, being able to find the odds with the best value can be the difference in hundreds of dollars in winnings.

March Madness is one of the biggest sporting events of the calendar year with millions of fans tuning in and billions of dollars wagered on the nearly month-long tournament. But how does the tournament itself actually work?

In order to even be eligible for the tournament (let alone qualify), all teams (68 men’s and 64 women’s) must belong to the NCAA Division I. As the selection process currently stands, 32 teams get automatic entry for winning their respective conference championships. The remaining bids are then awarded by an at-large process during an event known as Selection Sunday. Teams can qualify by winning their conference tournament following the regular season or by being selected by the NCAA selection committee. The selection committee takes a variety of factors into consideration including an RPI rating, strength of schedule, non-conference schedule, scoring margin, offensive/defensive efficiency, location, quality of wins and losses, and other analytical elements.

After being selected to the tournament, teams then play a single-elimination tournament, with the last team standing being named the NCAA Champion. The field is divided into four regions, with each team receiving a seeding from 1 to 16. Following the “First Four” round, 64 teams then play a total of 32 games over the course of a week, after which the field is whittled down to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and the Final Four.

Despite the massive level of hype surrounding March Madness, the odds to win the NCAA Tournament are not the only college basketball futures bets around. As mentioned, basketball fans can also wager on winning conference championships, being selected to the NCAA tournament, or even individual player awards. Individual player awards are given to those players who are voted the nation’s best at their respective position (point guard, power forward, small forward, etc.) or the best all-around player, as is the case with the Naismith Award. Additionally, the odds to win March Madness are not the only odds one can find for the tournament! There is also a tournament award known as the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) that can also be wagered on.