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What Are the Biggest March Madness Bets Ever Placed?

By Dan Vasta in March Madness
| January 9, 2022 6:58 am PDT

When March Madness rolls around during the calendar year, you can guarantee many sports bettors will be wagering on their brackets and individual bets.

The NCAA Tournament is all about brackets being filled out and projecting ahead. Future bets are often the most intriguing sports bets one could make.

Here are your biggest March Madness bets we have seen during the NCAA Tournament.

Mattress Mack Hammers His Hometown

One of the wealthier gamblers out there is Jim McIngvale. Everybody calls him ‘’Mattress Mack’’ since he owns GalleryFurniture. He has plenty of money and hasn’t been afraid to place the biggest bets around America.

He has placed enormous wagers before in sports, but the 2021 NCAA Tournament was one of the top bets we have ever seen.

The Texas product decided to go with his hometown squad. While the Cougars were handled by Baylor in the Final Four, it was no sweat off his back. The risk to reward was a tremendous ratio for Mack’s mind.

  • Future Bet: Houston Cougars to Win 2021 NCAA Tournament
  • Odds: 9/1
  • Risk: $1 Million
  • Reward: $9 Million

He had previously made a wager on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl back in February of 2021.

Mack netted $3.4 million and hasn’t stopped making wagers along the way. He loves his Astros and has made numerous wagers on the side of his hometown Houston Astros.

Buckeyes Backed for 100K

Ohio State ended up getting plenty of love entering the 2021 NCAA Tournament. They had plenty of momentum after they nearly stunned Illinois in the Big Ten title game.

The Buckeyes were a trendy team that had Final Four aspirations. They had not been to a Final Four since 2012 and they seemed destined based on their Big Ten Tournament performance.

They had lost Kyle Young (concussion) for their opening round in the 2-15 matchup with Oral Roberts. However, a bettor at William Hill placed a $100,000 bet for the Buckeyes to win it all.

It was later in the afternoon that Duane Washington and EJ Liddell struggled down the stretch of regulation and overtime. They were stunned by 15-seed Orla Roberts and lost 75-72 in overtime.

The Buckeyes had one of their better teams in the past few decades. We have learned that there are no sure locks once March Madness rolls along. Be wary when placing heavy wagers and this bettor learned the hard way with Ohio State.

Live and Die on Duke

The Blue Devils have been one of the most watched teams in collegiate sports. When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, Duke and thrilling finishes are a given.

It is rare to watch a Duke game in the tournament and be bored. In fact, most of them come down to the wire. One gambler risked it all on the Blue Devils at 5/2 odds for the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Duke had All-American performers in Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. The two freshmen seemed unstoppable, and they were among the top tandems Duke ever had.

Their numbers were off the charts and most had Coach K getting into the Final Four simply due to their dominance. Led by two future lottery picks, Duke was a popular selection to cut the nets down.

  • Zion Williamson: 22.6 PPG, 8.9 REB, 68.0 FG%
  • R.J. Barrett: 22.6 PPG, 7.6 REB, 4.3 APG, 45.4 FG%

Unfortunately, the Blue Devils had to sweat their second and third games in the dance to reach the Regional Final against Michigan State.

Tom Izzo came in with a lowly 0-7 record against Mike Krzyzewski. The ultimate prize was on the line, as the winner was waiting for a trip to the Final Four.

Zion and Barrett got theirs, but Cam Reddish was the third highly touted recruit that came off the bench.

Reddish struggled only scoring 8 points in 37 minutes played and the 17 turnovers by the Blue Devils proved pivotal. Spirit hung on for the 68-67 victory and all Duke receipts to win it all were all shredded, dead, and buried.

It’s a Great Day to be a Tar Heel

Well, except if you wagered on them to win the national title and they failed to win their regional. The top program perhaps in the history of college basketball has had some stellar juggernaut squads over the years led by Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, and Roy Williams.

Dean could have won a handful of national titles and Guthridge nearly pulled one off when Smith retired. Williams was fortunate to win three, but he was in the running for a few more. Losing at the gun in 2016 to Villanova was rough, but they miraculously bounced back and won it all in 2017.

This William Hill wager was placed on the Tar Heels to win the 2019 national championship. We saw $10,000 placed on them to cut the nets down, which required them to win six games. Their odds were 8/1, giving the bettor a shot at $80,000.

They won their first two fairly easily, but the tournament often gets more challenging after the first weekend.

The 2019 squad lacked the size to dominate the competition, but they surely had a plethora of playmakers that would make any ACC squad jealous. Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina were all 1-seeds that season.

Cam Johnson, Coby White, and Nassir Little were all first rounders that could score with the best of them. Little was a freak athlete that could play the 3 or the 4. Johnson was the top shooter in the nation that season, and White wasn’t far behind.

There were a few games (see Miami) that season where White carried the team on his back with his ability to go splash mountain from behind the arc. They had a favorable region but ran into a buzzsaw in the Sweet 16.

Auburn was an offensive juggernaut that played its best ball of the season at the most important time. Johnson was under the weather and sick to his stomach the day of the matchup against Auburn.

The box score reflected a porous shooting day from Johnson and White, in a drubbing they suffered.

Coby White & Cam Johnson PPG vs. Auburn Season FG% vs. Auburn
Michael_Phelps 28 Swimming
Averages 33.0 30 points/td> 46.2% 30.7%

The total points weren’t way off, but that was due to the game turning into a shootout. The Carolina defense was dreadful, and Auburn had their way for most of the night. Johnson and White were AP All-American honorable mentions that had terrific seasons.

It just wasn’t meant to be, and they bowed out of the dance in the Sweet 16. The 10 grand wager went down the toilet and it was one of the handful of 28-plus win Heel squads that fell short of a national title.

Fading Cinderella

After Ohio State lost to Oral Roberts, there was a bettor that went all in on fading the 15-seed in their next game against the 7-seeded Florida Gators.

The spread was placed at Florida -8, thanks to being the more accomplished team coming from the SEC. Florida was fortunate to get by Virginia Tech in the first-round, eventually winning in overtime.

The Gators are often a popular team even years after Billy Donovan left the program. SEC squads are popular, and Florida brings that sizzle that traps many gamblers into selecting.

Wait, until you hear the price that was paid on this second-round matchup between Oral Roberts and Florida.

  • Odds: Florida – 8
  • Risk: $224,000
  • Reward: $204,000 plus the original $224,000 placed

Many can get confused about the risk and reward, but it is always about the value you can’t get back. Many forget about the risk part of the bet; this was a shaky selection.

The Gators should have lost to Virginia Tech and laying eight points to an underrated Oral Roberts squad was a bit much.

Florida hung in there, but this game turned for the worst down the stretch. Florida led 52-43 within a few minutes of the second half. It got even better for the Gator backer as they led 67-56 with 9:46 remaining in regulation.

A quick 9-2 run cut the deficit to four points. Kevin Obanor was having a game to remember, carrying the squad on his back. Florida soon became ice cold on defense and Obanor grabbed the lead with 2:53 remaining. Noah Locke hit a jumper to grab a 78-77 lead, but they couldn’t score after that in the final 2-plus minutes.

The Cinderella story continued into the Sweet 16 as Oral Roberts pulled off the upset, 81-78. The $200-plus K bet went down the drain and the advice would be to take the points do not lay them against surging underdogs.  

Future Wager Placed on Multiple Teams

The future wagers placed on the NCAA Tournament is where all the money often lies. Picking who wins the NCAA Tournament is often a challenge, but the adventure along the way is where the entertainment begins.

We saw a huge bet placed on some of the top favorites entering the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Derek J. Stevens placed a $100,000 bet on four teams (Duke, Gonzaga, Michigan, and Kansas) to win the national championship.

The wager from Stevens, a Las Vegas casino owner and gambler, put $100,000 on four juggernaut programs. Any of the four had to win the national title against the rest of the field at the South Point sportsbook.

The chances of one of them getting to the Final Four seemed likely. Looking at the odds prior to the NCAA Tournament, the wager seemed like a smart one.

  • Favorite to Win It All: Duke (+255)
  • Second Favorite: Gonzaga (+550)
  • Seventh best: Michigan: (+1800)
  • T-15th best: Kansas (+6000)

The Blue Devils ended up losing in the Elite 8 to Michigan State, ending their title chances. Gonzaga lost in the Elite 8 to Texas Tech and Michigan was handled by Texas Tech the round prior in the Sweet 16.

Kansas was handled by Auburn in the Round of 32 matchup that ended up being a game that was never close. What a waste of 100 grand, but such is life.

Advice on March Madness Wagers

Be sure to check out the top March Madness betting sites available. March Madness is a popular time of the year and be sure you wager what you feel comfortable losing.

Folk’s love talking about their earnings, but be sure to avoid exceeding your risk amount. These were your biggest bets we have ever seen in March Madness and there will surely be several large wagers in the coming years.

There will be a few teams throughout the season to favor and win it all. To stay updated on all things related to college basketball, checkout the top Twitter accounts to follow below.

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