The sports betting world is buzzing as another staple on the sports calendar arrives on March 21. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, also known as the Big Dance or March Madness, contains a 68-team field broken off into a bracket of four regions. The winner of each region makes it to the Final Four, with the last team standing crowned champion of men’s college basketball.
The 2019 NCAA Tournament is set to be the first where NJ sports betting is legal and is definitely going to ensure a busy few weeks for NJ online sportsbooks. Like the Super Bowl, this will bring with it plenty of people trying out sports betting for the first time.
When it comes to March Madness, there’s a lot of information to learn and take in before going to the bracketology and making any NCAAB picks. If you are new to the sports betting scene, this guide will tell you what March Madness is, how the bracket works, the types of bets that can be made and some tips for wagering on the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
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What Is March Madness?
It just so happens that ‘March Madness’ describes the NCAA Tournament pretty well. It is an epic three-week affair full of upsets, comebacks, triumphs and heartbreaks.
The term ‘March Madness’ is said to have been used originally back in 1939 by official Henry Porter when describing a statewide high school basketball tournament in Illinois. It is widely reported to have found its way into the mainstream thanks to sportscaster Brent Musburger, who used it while calling the 1982 NCAA Tournament. Ever since, March Madness and the NCAA Tournament have been synonymous with one another.
When Does March Madness Begin?
Technically, the 2019 NCAA Tournament begins in full on Thursday, March 21, although initial play-in games take place on Tuesday, March 19.
What should be noted is that March Madness has come to represent more than just the tournament, especially to avid NCAAB fans. The stage is set during the first two weeks of the month before the NCAA Tournament begins, when 32 different conference tournaments are held leading up to Selection Sunday.
Each conference title comes with the prize of an automatic bid for each title on the line. There are battles in small conferences for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, and battles in larger conferences for seeding once for the Big Dance gets under way. March Madness truly encompasses both things for many fans, with the NCAA Tournament obviously being the main attraction. By that logic, March Madness actually begins well before any games are played in the NCAA Tournament.
How The 2019 NCAA Tournament Works
There’s a lot that goes into the NCAA Tournament bracket setting the stage for one of the busiest times of the sports betting year.
There are two ways to get into the NCAA Tournament and go all-in on March Madness. The two ways of securing a bid are:
- Win Conference Title & Receive Automatic Bid
- Receive At-Large Bid From Selection Committee
As mentioned above, 32 tickets are punched are claimed by conference tournaments in the weeks that open up March Madness. The other 36 spots are ‘at-large’ bids designed to go to the 36 most deserving teams, determined by a 10-person committee whose members pay close attention to specified conferences all season long. The group decides at-large bids based on several factors including the following:
- Home, Away & Neutral Site Game Results
- Quality of Wins/Losses
- Strength Of Schedule
- Win/Loss Margin
- Offensive/Defensive Efficiency
Before releasing the NCAA bracket, the committee spends nearly a week presiding over the process of selection, bracketing and seeding teams leading up to the tournament. In many cases, the metrics favor teams from larger conferences with more quality opponents and thus, more opportunities to check off boxes for the committee.
The process of selecting at-large teams is generally a controversial one, and snubs from the tournament receive plenty of attention on Selection Sunday. Overall, the NCAA Tournament bracket consists 64 teams are trimmed down from 68 via what are referred to as ‘play-in’ games. Four games are played prior to the start of the tournament to decide which of the eight teams gets the four last available spots.
Each quadrant of the bracket (or region) has teams seeded 1 through 16 based on the committee’s selections. Seeding positions within the bracket are predetermined, so each team can gain an idea of who it may need to beat in order to reach the Final Four.
NCAA Tournament & March Madness 2019 Betting Tips
This section refers to those looking to do a little more than just fill out a few brackets. First, make sure you find the right NJ sportsbook for you with the most reliable NCAAB lines available. There are several options that include generous promotions and signup bonuses for new NJ online sports betting players.
Before we can get to any sports betting picks for a team/game in the bracket, we need to know a little about the philosophy of making NCAAB betting picks. It’s important to remember a few things when it comes to sports betting on March Madness.
Below are some basic tips and strategies for making NCAAB picks, and even some stuff that could apply to brackets in some ways. Keep the following in mind when getting started:
- Be A Little Selective When Sports Betting
This is especially true early in the NCAA Tournament, where the first two days have 16 games each and the next two days have eight games. That doesn’t even count the four play-in games ahead of time before the whole thing gets going! You likely can’t make NCAAB picks on every game and wind up a winner, so don’t try to.
It can be easy to go on tilt after a couple of early losses, but this tournament truly is a marathon and not a sprint. If you do like to spread the sports betting action around to several games, try a teaser or a low-stakes parlay to keep multiple games interesting.
- Research Before Making Sports Betting Picks
Many times, the NCAA Tournament creates matchups that are difficult to handicap in terms of online betting picks. That can mean a big conference school against a smaller school who or it could just be two evenly-matched teams with little to separate the two. It’s important to take multiple factors into consideration before making NCAAB picks. More important than just win-loss records or picking the higher-seeded team, do some research (especially if point-spread betting).
Stats on how teams play on the road/at neutral sites, strength of schedule, success down the stretch of the season and conference tournament results can all help when it comes to making sports betting picks during the first couple of rounds.
- Don’t Believe The Hype
Inevitably, there will be teams that the sports betting public jumps all over. Sometimes it’s one particular team everyone’s got in the Final Four, sometimes it’s a smaller school that everybody picks for the first-round upset or a deep Cinderella-like run. Just because the public and people you know loves a certain team doesn’t make them the sound sports betting pick.
Keep an eye on line movements, which are caused by sharp bettors (who tend to know what they’re talking about) and definitely take shots with some underdogs since that’s partially what this tournament is all about, but don’t sway toward the direction of the public based on popularity of the pick.
How To Bet On NCAA Tournament 2019
When it comes to sports betting on March Madness, there’s a few ways to do it. Here is a list including the types of sports betting that will be done around March Madness:
- Bracket Pools
- Point spread
Some things are common throughout the course of the season and won’t change when the tournament begins. What is exclusive to March Madness, however, is brackets. And their popularity in the sports betting space is only getting bigger.
In 2017, it was reported that 70 million brackets are filled out for March Madness and an estimated amount of over $10 billion in bets are made, both legal and illegal. Whether it’s a pool for bragging rights at someone’s job, a pool for money with friends and family, or now perhaps a pool at a newly-opened NJ sportsbook, everybody seems to fill out a bracket.
Conventional betting on moneylines, point spreads and totals along with exotic bets like parlays and teasers will be wildly popular, especially during the first two rounds of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Plenty of NJ sport betting players will also play props on a game-by-game basis and/or make futures bets on which teams will reach the Final Four and ultimately hoist the trophy at the end. NJ sportsbooks are sure to see a bump in action for the duration of March Madness, putting another notch in the belt of state with legalized sports betting.
NCAA Tournament 2019: Selection Sunday Enhances March Madness
For basketball fans and NJ sports betting players alike, the same day that the last conference tournaments come to a conclusion is the day that excitement for the NCAA tournament begins to really build.
Selection Sunday is when the bracket is officially released to the public after weeks of speculation. Once the bracket is released, fans and sports betting enthusiasts head for the computer and print as many blank brackets as possible, and the bracketology ensues for three more days as everyone decides who’s going to be Cinderella and who’s going to the Final Four.
NJ sportsbooks will also release odds that night for first-round matchups on the following Thursday and Friday. The NCAAB futures odds will also experience a shift as money comes in on various teams once sports betting players get a thorough look at the regions and where each school is placed in the bracket.