A good March Madness bracket may become priceless.

Or worth at least $1 million.

However, DraftKings Sportsbook isn’t waiting until Selection Sunday to entice March Madness bettors.

It has unveiled a novel Millionaire Bracket Challenge, with entry fees of $100 per bracket. The top prize is $1 million and $2 million will be paid out.

New Jersey is one of five states where the promotion is being offered. The others are:

  • Colorado
  • New Hampshire
  • West Virginia
  • Tennessee

Players are allowed up to 20 entries. The competition can be found in the pools or promo section on its website.

Breaking down the Millionaire Bracket prize pool

The prizes range between $1 million and $150. Here is a breakdown of the bigger payouts:

  • First: $1 million
  • Second: $250,000
  • Third: $125,000
  • Fourth: $75,000
  • Fifth: $50,000
  • The 6-10 slots range from $30,000 down to $12,500

The bottom line is there will be ties, and these payouts will be averaged out. However, anyone who finishes in the top 1,500 will be close to even.

“This is truly exciting because a lot of games are difficult to pick, especially this year,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJ Gambling Sites. “The days of the 30-point spread in college basketball are over.

“This is the first time we are doing this competition.  I think it is going to be fantastic.”

However, there is one small disclaimer for New Jersey gamblers. If a Garden State team makes the Big Dance, entries will automatically be assigned to the opposing team. And this is in accordance with NJ sports betting regulations.

But who is going to have Seton Hall or Rutgers winning it all?

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Brackets: the soul of March Madness

Brackets represented  March Madness betting, primarily in the office-pool realm.

That was until the PASPA repeal made every game available for wagering (unless a New Jersey team or location is involved).

Brackets now capture the casual bettor, propelling the multi-million-dollar March Madness gambling engine.

And based on elite teams toppling like dominoes in the last week, upsets are going to be needed to fuel a winning bracket.

But how many?

March Madness brings uncertain future

“You have to be asking yourself if (No 1. Ranked) Gonzaga is really that good,” said Avello.

“And look at the other teams having trouble,” he added. “It’s wide open. The Millionaire’s Bracket is going to be exciting and so is the rest of college basketball for the next few weeks.”

Betting enthusiasm will be fueled by parity at the top.

Teams that led the rankings all year just suffered a week of wreckage.

First, it was Ohio State, ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP Poll.

In succession came losses to Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa. The latter was a 73-57 blowout.

Then there is the Villanova Wildcats.

They were ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP top 25, but getting pounded 73-61 by Butler doesn’t help.  Yes, that Butler, which entered the game at 8-13. And the game wasn’t close.

The shocks do not stop there.

Michigan, which had taken a run of recent money at DraftKings and William Hill, was plastered Monday night by No. 4 Illinois, 76-53.

The No. 2 team in the nation, playing at home, gets blown out.

Call it parity.

Futures betting opportunities are everywhere.

And, in a big game we forecasted here last week, No. 3 Baylor went all out to topple West Virginia, 94-89 in overtime.

West Virginia held the lead in the final minute.

The Mountaineers remain a futures champion longshot (+3000) but have now lost by only five points to Gonzaga and Baylor.

They remain a tremendous value because they haven’t gotten over the top. So you know some brackets will bear their names as champions.

Time to go conference tournament shopping

Because of last week’s shakeup, this is an excellent betting week for the Big 10 Conference Championship. The dogs are live in the updated mid-week betting odds.

Here are the odds to win it at DraftKings:

  • Michigan+185
  • Iowa +375
  • Illinois +400
  • Ohio State +450
  • Purdue +700

Thinking about betting on the hot teams? You’re looking at Iowa and Illinois.

But if you’re buying on the dip, Michigan and Ohio State currently represent bargains.

All these teams will battle again next week, just as they did in the past two.

And bettors have a good reason to sink their teeth into whatever teams they like here.

Maryland, at +5000, has been beating the best of the rest.

Big East Conference has similar overtones

Villanova and Creighton are deservedly favored. However, they are looking a little shaky and now represent good buys.

Here is the Big East Championship odds breakdown as of Wednesday afternoon:

  • Villanova +175
  • Creighton +200
  • UConn +475
  • Xavier +600

So there are good values all around.

Butler, fresh off the Villanova win, is +6000. And Creighton recently lost to Xavier.

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Michigan Rises, then falls at William Hill

You’ve heard of the Sports Illustrated jinx, right? Feature an athlete on the cover and watch for a flop.

That happened to Michigan after it became a top-tier team at the William Hill sportsbook.

Before being blown out by Illinois, Michigan had jumped to +350 for the national championship.

They joined Gonzaga (+250) and Baylor (+350) for the shortest championship odds.

The optimism had come with good reason.

“Michigan is absolutely on that same tier as Gonzaga and Baylor,” said Nick Bogdanovich, Director of Trading for William Hill US.

“They’ve been playing outstanding. We’ve got huge liability on Michigan, the bettors were pounding them early. So we lose really bad with Michigan and we lose pretty damn good with Baylor, too.”

Michigan was listed at +7500 before the start of the season and jumped to as high as +125 in early December.

The Wolverines dropped to +8500, then +2500 in early January, and now are a near chalk.

We talk about the great futures betting odds available by wagering early in the season.

This is a classic example.

Meanwhile, the biggest 2020-21 college basketball championship futures wager on Gonzaga was a New Jersey bettor laying $15,000 on them at +800 for a total potential payout of $135,000.

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About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.