There is a reason they call the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament March Madness. The University of Virginia is a prime example. In 2018, the school set a record no one wanted to lay claim on: They became the first-ever one seed to lose to a 16 seed. Then, in a story that is about as Cinderella as a major program can get, they came back in 2019 to win it all.
Over the course of almost three weeks and 67 basketball games, anyone can win and anyone can get sent home. As the parity expands across college basketball programs, March only gets more exciting too. Especially if you are a sports bettor.
For PA sports bettors and PA sports fans, the recent success of Villanova’s basketball team has been reason to cheer. The team won the championship twice. Unfortunately for Villanova bettors, 2019 was less successful. The team went home after the round of 32.
Thankfully for the Wildcats, and for basketball fans, there is always 2020.
Where to bet on March Madness in PA
The following list of eight retail Pennsylvania sportsbooks that took bets on the NCAA tournament in 2019:
- Hollywood Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
- Rivers Casino
- Parx Casino
- South Philadelphia Turf Club
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino
- Valley Forge Turf Club
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.
The auto-bids for the tournament go to the winners of each of these conferences
- American Athletic
- Atlantic 10
- Atlantic Sun
- Big 12
- Big East
- Big Sky
- Big South
- Big Ten
- Big West
- Conference USA
- Horizon League
- Ivy League
- Metro Atlantic Athletic (MAAC)
- Mid-American (MAC)
- Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEAC)
- Missouri Valley
- Mountain West
- Ohio Valley
- Patriot League
- Southwestern Athletic (SWAC)
- Summit League
- Sun Belt
- West Coast
- Western Athletic (WAC)
When and where to watch March Madness
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 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 TNT, TBS, 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.
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 each year as more and more states legalize 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.