It really is the golden age of Villanova Wildcats basketball. The team won the National Championship two out of the past three years, in 2016 and 2018. The reigning champs already took down the Big East title. Now it is time for the Big Dance, though they will not have the benefit of a top seed this year.

Even without Villanova favored, March Madness is still a special sporting event that appeals to a giant segment of the population. This year’s NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament will be even crazier in Pennsylvania thanks to legal sports betting in the state.

Pennsylvania’s first legal sportsbook launched at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in November 2018. Since then, seven more PA sportsbooks have opened.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has yet to approve the launch of online and mobile sports betting in the stateThe state’s first online sports betting apps are not likely to launch until after the tournament is over. However, there will be plenty of land-based betting options as well as March Madness viewing parties.

Unsure of who to bet? We’ve got some suggestions on Round 1 picks:

Where to bet on March Madness in PA

The following list of eight retail PA sportsbooks will be taking bets on the NCAA tournament in 2019:

Presque Isle Downs & Casino is the only property approved to offer sports betting that has not opened yet. Don’t expect it to open and take bets in time for Selection Sunday.

New Jersey remains an option

Don’t forget that driving over to the Garden State remains an option as well. You are not allowed to bet on the NJ teams like Rutgers. However, you will have online betting options. In fact, you just need to get over the border to download one of the 13 NJ online betting apps, deposit money, and place March Madness bets.

Selection Sunday for March Madness

The field of 68 teams in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is comprised of 32 guaranteed sports and 34 at-large selections determined by a committee of university athletic directors and conference representatives.

Want to keep track of all the madness? Download a bracket with all games on it right here:

PlayPA2019NCAAbracket

The auto-bids for the tournament go to the winners of each of the conferences. Here is a look at the auto spots. We will update once a winner is finalized:

  • America East: Vermont (27-6)
  • American Athletic: Iona (17-15)
  • Atlantic 10: St Louis (23-12)
  • ACC: Duke (29-5)
  • Atlantic Sun: Liberty (28-6)
  • Big 12: Iowa State (23-11)
  • Big East: Villanova (25-9)
  • Big Sky: Montana (26-8)
  • Big South: Gardner-Webb (23-11)
  • Big Ten: Michigan State (28-7)
  • Big West: UC-Irvine (30-5)
  • Colonial: Northeastern (23-10)
  • Conference USA: Old Dominion (26-8)
  • Horizon League: Northern Kentucky (26-8)
  • Ivy League: Yale (22-7)
  • Metro Atlantic Athletic (MAAC): Iona (17-15)
  • Mid-American (MAC): Buffalo (31-3)
  • Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEAC): North Carolina Central (18-15)
  • Missouri Valley: Bradley (20-14)
  • Mountain West: Utah State (28-6)
  • Northeast: Fairleigh Dickinson (20-13)
  • Ohio Valley: Murray State (27-4)
  • Pac-12: Oregon (23-12)
  • Patriot League: Colgate (24-10)
  • SEC: Auburn (26-9)
  • Southern: Wofford (29-4)
  • Southland: Abilene Christian (27-6)
  • Southwestern Athletic (SWAC): Prairies View A&M (21-12)
  • Summit League: North Dakota State (18-15)
  • Sun Belt: Georgia State (24-9)
  • West Coast: St. Mary’s (22-11)
  • Western Athletic (WAC): New Mexico State (30-4)

When and where to watch March Madness

The schedule for the early rounds of NCAA Men’s Basketball action is as follows:

RoundSite/LocationDates
Selection SundayN/AMarch 17
First FourDayton, OhioMarch 19-20
1st/2nd RoundsHartford, Conn.March 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsSalt Lake City, UtahMarch 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsDes Moines, Iowa March 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsJacksonville, Fla.March 21-23
1st/2nd RoundsTulsa, Okla.March 22-24
1st/2nd RoundsColumbus, OhioMarch 22-24
1st/2nd RoundsColumbia, S.C.March 22-24
1st/2nd RoundsSan Jose, Calif.March 22-24
South RegionalLouisville, Ky.March 28-30
West RegionalAnaheim, Calif.March 28-30
East RegionalWashington, D.C.March 29-31
Midwest RegionalKansas City, Mo.March 29-31
Final FourMinneapolis, Minn.April 6
National ChampionshipMinneapolis, Minn.April 8

The NCAA tournament’s first and second round is completed with 48 games played in the tournament’s first four days. This hectic four-day period of college basketball action spawned the name March Madness. The NCAA tournament’s first and second round is set for March 21-24 in 2019.

Just 16 teams make it through to the second weekend of action. Of those, only four will head to Minneapolis for the Final Four and National Championship game.

CBS provides TV coverage of all tournament games. As many games overlap in the early rounds, CBS affiliates try to air games of interest to their local market. Additionally, cable channels TNTTBS, and TruTV carry games as well.CBS affiliates in Pennsylvania are:

  • Altoona – WTAJ-TV 10
  • Erie – WSEE-TV 35
  • Harrisburg – WHP-TV 21
  • Philadelphia – KYW-TV 3
  • Pittsburgh – KDKA-TV 2
  • Scranton – WYOU 22

Viewers may also be able to find to live streaming games online at CBSsports.com.

How to bet on March Madness in PA

PA sportsbooks are bound to offer a variety of ways the public can bet on March Madness games and the entire tournament, including:

  • Brackets – Players fill out a 63-game bracket sheet and enter it in a pool.
  • Futures – A bet on a team to win the National Championship at any time before the season starts, throughout the season, and into the NCAA tournament up until the start of the Final Four.
  • Moneylines – A single-game bet placed on a team to win outright and booked based on odds set by sportsbooks.
  • Spreads – A single-game bet placed on a team to win with a line set by oddsmakers factored into the final score.
  • Totals – A single-game bet on whether the final score will land over or under a line set by sportsbooks.
  • Parlays – A combination of two or more basic bets that pays better than individual single-game bets. Every bet must win for the parlay to pay.

Trends in March Madness betting

Betting has long been a part of the NCAA tournament experience for sports fans. The traditional way most have always bet on March Madness is through NCAA tournament bracket sheets in pools at the office or local bars and social clubs. These paid pools are actually illegal in most states, but the American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates more than 24 million Americans still fill out brackets and enter every year.

This year, Pennsylvania sportsbooks may run legal pools of their own, allowing patrons to bet on March Madness the same way most always have.

The AGA also estimates more than $10 billion is wagered on March Madness games every year. Most of it is bet illegally, either through brackets, bookies, or offshore online sportsbooks.

However, the percentage bet legally should rise substantially in 2019 now that Pennsylvania and five other states have joined Nevada in launching legal sports betting.

March Madness betting tips

The process of betting on the NCAA tournament is a lot easier than picking winners. Predicting who will be this year’s Cinderella story and making your way through such a huge schedule of NCAA basketball games is hard. The following March Madness betting tips should help:

  • There will be upsets. It’s just a matter of when and where. No. 16 seeds almost never beat No. 1 seeds in the first round. In fact, it happened for the first time ever in 2018. However, the No. 12 seed beats the No. 5 seed a shocking 65 percent of the time. When you’re looking for this year’s shocking upset, start here, look around the middle of the bracket, and avoid the really long odds on the edges. Also, look at the odds at your local sportsbook. Often the lines will tell you when a team is mis-seeded.
  • Watch early round games. The seeding won’t tell you who the hottest teams are, only watching the action will. Particularly in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, the teams that are playing the best are often better bets than the highest seeds.
  • Shop around. Look around at different sportsbooks for the best price on your bets and you may find some real value.
  • Top seeds win late. The higher-seeded team wins almost 75 percent of the time in the Final Four. Therefore, when the title is really on the line, you’re going to want to look at who the NCAA says the best team is.