There’s a reason the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is called March Madness. What happened to the University of Virginia in recent years is just the latest example.
In 2018, UVA set a record no one wanted to lay claim to: It became the first-ever #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed. Then, in a story about as Cinderella as a major program can get, they returned to March Madness in 2019 and won it all.
As parity expands across college basketball programs, March Madness has only become more exciting. That’s especially true for sports bettors. Over three weekends and 67 basketball games, anyone can win. And anyone can get sent home.
Outside of the Super Bowl, March Madness is the biggest sports betting event in the US. Consider that $10 billion is estimated to be bet on the tourney each year. Half of that is bet on March Madness bracket contests.
Here in Pennsylvania there are plenty of ways to get in on March Madness betting whether there are fans in the stands or not. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know below.
There are no restrictions for betting on local college basketball teams in Pennsylvania as there are in New Jersey. Every basketball program is available to bet on including Villanova, Penn St. and Temple.
You do not have to be a resident of Pennsylvania to place a legal bet in PA but you do need to be within state lines. If you live outside of PA (like in upstate New York for example) you can easily download one of the many betting apps, deposit funds and manage your account from your home. You only need to travel to PA to place your actual bets.
There are several solid betting apps available to PA bettors but a few stand above the rest. Here are the top three choices for mobile betting in PA.
The daily fantasy sports giant (DFS), DraftKings, has taken the sports betting world by storm and is a preferred destination for scores of bettors. The DraftKings app is slick, easy-to-use and offers the full slate of college basketball and March Madness lines you’d find at the online sportsbook
New users who sign up via our exclusive links are eligible for $25 in free bets. Claim it right here:
FanDuel is another DFS titan that is now all-in with sports betting as well. A user-friendly platform and great promotions are among its calling cards as it’s soared in downloads in legal betting states. Bet March Madness futures and all the game action from the tournament as it happens all in one app.
Sign up for an account via our exclusive link and you get a risk-free bet up to $500. Claim it below:
SugarHouse was the first legal online sports betting option in PA. A slick platform and fantastic loyalty program are among the features you can expect along with standard college basketball futures and game odds during March Madness.
Click any of the links above to start the process. Once you’ve begun the process you’ll see an icon to download the app for either iOS or Android. Once you’ve downloaded, creating a new account for each sports betting app is very simple.
Follow the simple instructions you’ll be prompted with, fill in your information and verify your details. Once your password is set, then all you’ll need to do is log in on your app and you’ll be all set to fund your account and start making bets.
Note: You’ll also need to authorize geolocation tracking to verify that you are in PA while placing real money bets. This is another simple step and only takes seconds to install.
You can still download the app and manage your account if you’re out of state but you’ll need to be in PA to place real-money bets.
Betting in person at a retail sportsbook is a cool experience but it’s tough to beat the convenience of betting online. A few of the more significant reasons why:
1. Bet anytime you want. There’s no need to travel and hope you make it to the sportsbook in time to place your bets. You simply log in and have 24/7 access from anywhere in the state.
2. Manage your account from anywhere. If you need to be out of state, no worries. You can still manage your account and download other sports betting apps from outside of PA.
3. The best lines at your fingertips. Line shopping at retail sportsbooks requires visiting multiple locations. That’s not the case online, as you can view lines on numerous apps to find the best ones.
4. Quickness and convenience. Place your bets whenever you want with just a couple of clicks and swipes. There’s no need to wait in line or to deal with a cashier.
5. Live betting. If you’re into in-play betting, then mobile is a must. A busy retail sportsbook can lead to missed opportunities, but you’ll have access to bets whenever you’re ready online.
Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks can be lots of fun and are worth taking the time to check out. But for regular betting action, mobile and online betting have emerged as the preferred option.
There’s a big market for March Madness futures, which you can bet on at any time. As the NCAA men’s college basketball season moves along you can see the current favorites to take down the tournament via the listed “futures” odds at any online sportsbook. Here’s how they sit just before Selection Sunday as they wrap up conference tournaments:
San Diego State
Hover over the odds you like and click the “Bet Now” button to start the process of registering your account and making your bet.
Note: Always check your sportsbook app for the latest odds. Once the field for March Madness is set the odds board is a great tool to use as you research the strength of each team in the tournament.
One of the many great things about March Madness is the various ways to get in on the action. Here’s a look at the most popular ways to bet on March Madness:
These are contests in which you fill out the tournament bracket in its entirety. Those who pick the most correct winners from all 67 games, when all is said and done, win. Usually the top 5-10% of the field make the money. There are free and paid bracket pick’em contests, some of which can be massive. Top prizes for some bracket contests can be up to $1M.
Including the First Four games, there are a whopping 67 opportunities for single-game betting during March Madness. You can tackle each one of them or pick your spots and find the best opportunities.
There will be a small range of prop bets for each game and live betting opportunities. The bracket-style and overall structure of the tournament opens up plenty of possibilities for parlay bettors as well.
Do you know that you’re going to be locked in for one of the busiest broadcast windows? Then take a stab at picking each game on a parlay ticket.
As mentioned earlier, it’s estimated that $10 billion will be wagered across the US on March Madness. Nearly half of that money will be devoted to bracket contests among friends and colleagues.
A March Madness bracket lays out the entire tournament from the First Four to the National Champion. The tournament itself is single-elimination and no re-seeding takes place as rounds complete. The teams in the tournament are assigned to four regions:
In each of the regions the teams are seeded from top to bottom, from Nos. 1 to 16. Round one in each region will have eight games, followed by four games per region in round two, and so on.
For bracket contests, the object is to pick the winners of all games in advance. For the opening round, all of the matchup options are right in front of you. It gets much trickier from that point. The rest of the rounds are blank, but you’ll still need to choose who advances from the selections you made in round one and so on.
That’s a big difference from single-game betting as you’ll be able to handicap each matchup in advance of tipoff.
There are bracket contests that are free to play as well as ones that require an entry fee. Payouts for those contests will vary based on the total number of entries.
Smaller contests may be winner-take-all, while those that have many entrants could pay the top few places. The two major free March Madness bracket contests you can expect to find in 2020 in PA are:
You’ll find both listed in the sportsbook lobby under the “CBB” tab. Both are free to play and open to new account sign-ups from across the US.
Other major sports and fantasy outlets such as ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo also have big contests with real prizes that attract plenty of players.
There are also online March Madness bracket contests of the paid variety, some of which can be massive in size.
Also, there are second-chance bracket contests that begin with round two or later. Since many brackets are busted early these contests can help keep folks engaged until it’s all wrapped up.
Brackets will often go bust due to unforeseen upsets. While the higher seeds are theoretically the better teams, lower-seeded teams that are playing with a lot of momentum can surprise. When filling out your bracket, keep this in mind.
In addition to considering the overall strength of teams, keep an eye out for teams that are entering on a high note and those who have been falling flat. If you can spot some upsets that few others are seeing while the rest of your bracket performs well, you could be in line to make some noise.
DraftKings has already announced a free-to-enter $16,000 Second Chance Bracket Challenge for 2020:
For three weeks every spring, March Madness captures the imagination of the sports world. Exciting finishes, bracket-busters and the sheer number of games back-to-back-to-back-to-back are just a few of the reasons why.
When you add in the sports betting factor, the interest level goes through the roof. Instead of relying on your bracket picks made before the tournament starts, you can manage your budget and betting opportunities from round to round.
For each game in every round, you’ll have a plethora of betting choices to consider. Let’s start with the basic bets you can make on most sports.
Oddsmakers will establish a line for each game; your job is to beat it. For example, Villanova may be favored by 1.5 points over Georgetown. You decide if you like the Wildcats minus the points or the Hoyas plus the points.
If you take the Wildcats, Villanova has to win by at least 2 for you bet to pay off. If you take the Hoyas, they can still lose by 1 and your bet will be a winner.
A moneyline bet is a straight bet in which you’re simply choosing the winner. Odds will look something like this:
A wager on favored Villanova offers less of a potential return in this scenario (you’ll need to bet $120 to win $100), while a bet on Georgetown (you’ll get $105 paid for a $100 bet) could provide more bang for the buck if they pull out the upset.
Oddsmakers will set a benchmark total for each game. Bettors then decide if they like the total points scored to be “over” or “under” that number. Eg.
While bracket contests are lots of fun, there are plenty of March Madness fanatics who prefer single-game wagers. That said, there’s no reason you can’t allocate time and resources to both.
Once the brackets are finalized and released, odds for each of the games in round one will be unveiled. After the market has its say by placing some wagers, you may see shifts in the odds and lines.
You don’t need to bet on every game at all, but you certainly won’t be lacking for options either. In addition to the basic single-game wagering opportunities, you’ll find many other ways to bet on March Madness, including:
These are wagers you can place after the game has tipped off. Odds and markets move fast, but in-game betting has evolved into a popular feature at sportsbooks.
Opportunities will vary, but you may see new odds listed for the winner of the game or the team to score more points in the half, for example.
For each of the games, there will also be prop bets listed, which you can typically find by clicking on “More Wagers.” Props can be team or player-based, and there are generally a few prop opportunities to consider for each game.
Here are the important dates and locations you need to know for March Madness:
|March 15||Selection Sunday||NA||NA|
|March 17-18||First Four||Dayton, OH||University of Dayton Arena|
|March 19-21||First and second round||Albany, NY||Times Union Center|
|March 19-21||First and second round||Spokane, WA||Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena|
|March 19-21||First and second round||St. Louis, MO||Enterprise Center|
|March 19-21||First and second round||Tampa, FL||Amalie Arena|
|March 20-22||First and second round||Greensboro, NC||Greensboro Coliseum|
|March 20-22||First and second round||Omaha, NE||CHI Health Center Omaha|
|March 20-22||First and second round||Sacramento, CA||Golden 1 Center|
|March 20-22||First and second round||Cleveland, OH||Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse|
|March 26-28||Midwest Regional||Indianapolis, IN||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|March 26-28||West Regional||Los Angeles, CA||Staples Center|
|March 27-29||South Regional||Houston, TX||Toyota Center|
|March 27-29||East Regional||New York, NY||Madison Square Garden|
|April 4-6||Final Four||Atlanta, GA||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
Selection Sunday is the day when brackets are finally unveiled. After the conclusion of college basketball’s regular season, there will be 32 conference tournaments:
The winners of each of those tournaments receive an automatic bid for March Madness. The remaining teams, 36 in all, are considered at-large bids and chosen by the NCAA selection committee, which uses a ranking system, known as NET, to determine the bids.
NET stands for the NCAA Evaluation Tool and factors in several different metrics. Of the remaining spots, 28 teams are seeded right away, while the remaining eight play in the First Four contests to determine who will advance to the first round.
The teams are assigned to four regions: East, South, Midwest and West. Each of these has 16 teams that are seeded from one through 16. The winner of each region advances to the Final Four.
This year, circle March 15 on your calendar. That’s Selection Sunday and the unofficial starting point of March Madness.
A total of 13 programs compete at the Division 1 level of college basketball in PA but not all of them will “make the dance.” For National title hopes, Villanova has proven to be PA’s all-time leading program and is again positioned for a deep run this year.
Don’t sleep on Penn St. this year, though. Known for being a powerhouse college football program that has produced dozens of NFL stars, the Nittany Lions have rarely fielded a college basketball team that struck fear into anyone.
They look primed to change that and make it out of the 1st or 2nd round in 2020, led by senior Lamar Stevens. Here are the biggest college basketball programs in the state and a glimpse of their March Madness prospects for 2020:
• Location: Pittsburgh
• Home Games: Petersen Events Center
• Conference: ACC
• Head Coach: Jeff Capel
• Player to Watch: Trey McGowens, guard
• Best March Madness Performance: Final Four in 1941, Elite Eight in 2009
• Chances of Making 2020 Tournament: Good
• Top NBA Player: Steven Adams
As for the other college basketball programs in PA, we’ll have to wait and see how the conference tournaments shake out to see if any automatic bids can be seized. If any of them manage to get hot at the right time, the 2020 edition of March Madness could have plenty of rooting interest here in Pennsylvania.
There are plenty of theories on how to go about creating your March Madness bracket. While many of those theories have helpful tips inside, there isn’t one single way to do it.
Similar to using a recipe as a guide and then adjusting it based on your tastes, you can pluck out some of the top tips from each to build out a strategy that works best for you.
Here are five tips you can use to make your bracket picks that much easier:
Upsets are going to happen, but the top seeds are where they are for a reason. In the early rounds, teams seeded one through four in each region always have a high-winning percentage. Keep that little nugget in mind and don’t go overboard with big upsets early.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pull the trigger when you think you have spotted an upset in the making. Said another way, if you love a 12-seed over a 5-seed in round one, don’t be shy. The #10-#12 seeds have pulled off upsets in virtually every NCAA tournament.
March Madness games are contested at neutral-site locations. As a result, you can throw out the home-court advantage. You can line the teams up based on overall strength without having to worry about who is home or away.
That being said, some teams will have to travel a lot farther than other depending on the region they’re placed in. For some of the top seeds, that means they’ll likely be playing just a few miles from home while lower seeds could be from the other side of the country. It doesn’t always matter, but it can be a factor.
Teams go on hot streaks and cold streaks. In a perfect world, they’ll enter the tournament playing really well. That’s not always the case. Pay attention to how teams have fared recently for a clue on how the opening round will go.
When it comes time to break down the matchups, there are a lot of stats to consider. Here are three of the most important:
As you fill out your bracket, you’ll find that some of the selections are easy. Fill those in first, then drill into the remaining matchups and see which ones you can decide on quickly. For whatever games are left, walk through the above five steps, and you’ll be able to make the rest of your choices in no time.
We’re not trying to burst your bubble, but you’re not going to have a perfect bracket. Advanced mathematical studies of March Madness have determined that there are 9.2 quintillion possible bracket combinations.
That’s a lot. As a result, the chances of picking the perfect bracket are somewhere around none. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the highest-scoring bracket in your pool.
Remember, focus on these five steps when picking games:
While the above system isn’t fail-safe or immune to bracket busting outcomes, it’ll lead you on the right track more often than not. As for single-game bets, the same principles apply. In addition, there are some other things you can look out for before placing your wagers.
From the time that lines are released until tipoff, the public has its chance to weigh in by placing bets. Keep an eye on spreads and totals that see significant movement. Is there a valid reason for the movement or just public enthusiasm?
It can be especially helpful on total bets. The public tends to lean toward the over. If they push a number too high, it can be a good spot to pounce.
Speaking of public betting action, it’s always a good idea to see which way the wind is blowing.
Some sites track the percentage of money bet on each side. Don’t be shy about going against the grain, and also keep an eye out for spots in which the action is lopsided. After all, books are correct more often than the general betting public.
During March Madness, you’ll see several matchups between teams from smaller conferences and squads from the bigger ones. While everyone loves an upset, consider the overall strength of the conferences when matching the two teams up. A smaller school may have racked up a fantastic record, but if they’ve done so against inferior competition, the ride will end before too long.
Once you get past the first two rounds of the tournament, all of the same concepts apply.
You’ll have fewer games to break down to boot. Keep in mind that the stronger teams should separate themselves from the pack as the tournament moves along. At least on paper, that is.
CBS and Turner Sports once again have the exclusive broadcast rights for March Madness.
You’ll see games on the following channels with exact dates and times unveiled once brackets are out:
For streaming options, the above channels are included with a number of the top cord-cutting alternatives out there.
Additionally, there is an NCAA March Madness app that allows you to stream every game, but you’ll need to have a cable, satellite or streaming subscription to access it.
Last but not least, these local CBS affiliates will carry the games:
You can also check out CBSSports.com and CBS All Access to explore additional streaming options.
March Madness brackets will be unveiled on Selection Sunday, which takes place on March 15, 2020.
Estimates from the American Gaming Association put the number at 70 million brackets per year.
They are astronomical. Advanced mathematical studies have found that there are 9.2 quintillion possible bracket combinations. If you understand basketball at all you narrow your odds somewhat but, well, not by much.
There are 67 games played in total. Four are play-in games known as the First Four, while the 63 other games make up the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
There are 68 teams in total. Eight will play in First Four matchups, which are play-in games to see who will advance to the tournament, which includes 64 teams.
In 1985, the 8th-seeded Villanova Wildcats won it all with an upset victory over the Georgetown Hoyas in the final game.
Villanova has won it all three times: 1985, 2016 and 2018.
This year’s edition of the Final Four will be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.