NCAA Tourney Headlines a Bettor's Dream Weekend

Powerball and horse racing are also on the menu

It’s betting season in America — a time when even the least-engaged pop-culture consumers are at least vaguely aware of the NCAA tournament, the forthcoming Triple Crown and a Powerball jackpot that has swelled to $320 million overnight.

Athletics and spectacle aside, there are real money-making opportunities. Between now and Sunday, there are chances — slim as they may be — to multiply your wealth, many, many times over.

The pot, which was at a paltry $261 million Wednesday, has grown to $320 million. The next drawing is at 11 p.m. ET on Saturday, and it only costs $2 to enter.

  • Chances of winning the whole prize: 1 in 175.2 million
  • Of winning $1 million: 1 in 5.2 million
  • Of winning $10,000: 1 in 648,975
  • Of winning something! Anything!: 1 in 31.9

The Powerball is in 42 states plus Washington D.C., but not California — Californians will have to drive to Arizona or Oregon to get in on Powerball fever.

There's a reason they call it March Madness: From Thursday to Sunday, there are 48 college basketball games you can put money on, assuming you haven't already filled out a traditional bracket in an office pool.

While chances of filling out a perfect bracket are woefully long (1 in 9.2 quintillion or a kinder 1 in 128 billion, according to DePaul math professor Jay Bergen, who explains his calculations in the videos below), you don’t need perfection to win. You just need to do better than everyone else in your pool, which requires knowledge of neither basketball nor betting.

If your friends and collegues are accepting late entries, check out these tips on picking winners. If they're not, don't despair. The folks at Yahoo! Sports and ESPN have generous gambling opportunities for you:

  • ESPN’s Streak for the Cash invites you to predict winners in upcoming NCAA matchups, as well as other sporting events. Whoever builds the biggest winning streak during tomorrow's Frantic Friday promotion will win $5,000.
  • Yahoo! Sports Second Chance: If you missed the boat on the round of 64, you can still make a bet on the 15 games played from the Sweet Sixteen onward. Entries are accepted through Thursday March 28 and the winner claims a $5,000 prize.

The Triple Crown, that trio of horse races that is paired with mint juleps and seersucker suits, is on the horizon, and stakes are rising at racetracks across the country. Here are two races this weekend to put your money on:

  • Spiral Stakes: On Saturday, 5:50 p.m. ET, Kentucky Derby wannabes compete for a $550,000 prize at Turfway Park in Florence, Ken. And you can compete for cash too. If you do, put your money on favorite Uncaptured, or go long for For Greater Glory, who lags as a 20:1 underdog.
  • Sunland Derby: There's $800,000 on the line for competitors in this New Mexico race, which you can catch on TVG at 8:40 p.m. ET. Bet on Shakin It Up, who won two big races since November.
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