In New Jersey, March Madness is more than just the 64-team, win-or-go-home NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament that determines the college basketball national champion every year.
Thanks to the launch of legal sports betting in the Garden State, it is now a three-week, college basketball betting extravaganza as well.
The 2019 tournament is the NCAA’s 81st, but it will be the first time NJ retail and online sportsbooks will take bets on what could be every March Madness game.
Games involving New Jersey-based schools will be excluded in accordance with state sports betting regulations. So while Seton Hall and Fairleigh Dickinson did make it to the tournament, you won’t be betting on them in the Garden State.
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Where can I bet on March Madness in NJ?
There are now 13 New Jersey online sports betting apps taking bets on college basketball and the NCAA tournament.
Here’s a look at the complete NJ online sports betting landscape:
Best NJ online sportsbooks
|Online Sportsbook||Land-Based Affiliate||Sportsbook App||Promo Code & Bonus|
|DraftKings||Resorts AC||Yes||Up to $500 - click here|
|BetStars||Resorts AC||Yes||Up to $500 - click here|
|FanDuel||Meadowlands||Yes||Up to $500 - click here|
|Caesars||Caesars||Yes||BETFREE10 - $10 Free|
|888 Sport||Caesars||Yes||$10 Free - click here|
|SugarHouse Sportsbook||Monmouth Park||Yes||PLAY250 - Up to $250|
|PointsBet||Meadowlands||Yes||$50 + Up to $1,000 - click here|
|Resorts||Resorts AC||Yes||Up to $250 - click here|
|William Hill||Monmouth||Yes||Up to $50|
|Golden Nugget Sports||Golden Nugget AC||Yes||$50 free bet|
|playMGM||Borgata AC||Yes||$100 cash back|
|Hard Rock||Hard Rock AC||Yes||Up to $1,000|
|BetAmerica||Golden Nugget AC||Yes||Up to $500|
In addition, all of the Atlantic City and NJ racetrack sports betting sites will have March Madness odds. Here’s a look at the 10 open sportsbooks in New Jersey:
Open land-based NJ sportsbooks
|Casino/Racetrack||Sports Betting Partner(s)||Sportsbook Name||Open?|
|Borgata||IGT||Borgata Race & Sports Bar||Yes|
|Monmouth Park||William Hill||Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill||Yes|
|Ocean Resort Casino||William Hill||William Hill Sportsbook @ Ocean||Yes|
|Resorts||SBTech; DraftKings/Kambi||DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts||Yes|
|Harrah's||Scientific Games||The Book||Yes|
|Bally's||Scientific Games||Wild Wild West Sportsbook||Yes|
|Golden Nugget||SBTech||The Sports Book||Yes|
|Hard Rock Atlantic City||GiG||Hard Rock Sportsbook||Yes|
|Tropicana||William Hill||William Hill Sports Book at Tropicana Atlantic City||Yes|
March Madness betting trends
According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans bet more than $10 billion on March Madness games every year. Up until this year, approximately $9.7 billion of that money was bet illegally.
Since New Jersey and six other states have joined Nevada in launching legal sports betting ahead of the 2019 NCAA tournament, that number is about to change significantly.
Although, the AGA also estimates 10 percent of Americans over the age of 21, close to 24 million people, bet nearly $3 billion on March Madness brackets through office pools and the like.
Paid office pool brackets are against the law in most states. However, this type of NCAA March Madness betting is so ingrained in American culture the numbers aren’t likely to change anytime soon.
Taking it even further, Forbes Magazine estimates the number of people who will place at least one bet on the NCAA tournament across the globe could be over 100 million.
The road to March Madness
College basketball teams typically play a regular season of up to 29 games before the road to March Madness truly begins.
A total of 68 teams are selected by the NCAA to either play or play their way into the NCAA tournament.
The first 32 are automatic bids awarded to the teams that win their respective conference tournaments, held after the regular season.
Incidentally, you can bet on regular season and conference tournament games at NJ sportsbooks as well, provided the games do not take place in NJ or involve NJ-based schools.
The remaining 36 teams are at-large bids picked by the NCAA Selection Committee.
The at-large bids are typically given to top-ranked teams and others that had an outstanding regular season but failed to win a conference tournament.
The road to the Final Four
The same NCAA Selection Committee that hands out the at-large bids also seeds the field one through 68.
The four lowest-seeded conference tournament winners and four lowest-seeded at-large teams then play in what is now referred to as the First Four. The winners advance to the NCAA tournament’s first round.
The 64 teams remaining after the First Four are placed into four 16-team regions: East, Midwest, West, and South. The NCAA seeds the teams in each region one through 16 and places them in brackets ensuring that, barring any upsets, the top seeds have the opportunity to play the lowest seed possible in subsequent rounds.
March Madness begins with 48 first and second round games held in the first four days of the tournament. In each region’s first round, the top seed plays the No. 16 seed, No. 2 plays No. 15, No. 3 plays No. 14, and so on down the line.
Winners advance to the second through a tournament bracket with the winner of No. 1 vs. No. 16 playing the winner of No. 8 vs. No. 9 and so on.
After the second round, 16 winners then advance to the Regional Semifinals (Sweet Sixteen) with games held the following weekend. Winners of the Sweet Sixteen games then advance to the Regional Finals (Elite Eight), which are also held that weekend.
The Elite Eight games leave just four teams in the hunt for a national championship. They play in the National Semifinals (Final Four) the very next weekend and the winners play in the Championship two days later.
How can I bet on March Madness in NJ?
There are several different ways you can bet on March Madness action at legal NJ sportsbooks, including:
NCAA tournament brackets are the traditional way most Americans bet on March Madness. In fact, millions of Americans play in NCAA March Madness office pools and free-to-enter online contests every year.
DraftKings Sportsbook launched its Brackets contest in New Jersey. It includes a $20 buy-in cash contest for NJ bettors and a free-to-play bracket contest available nationwide.
Other NJ online sportsbooks may offer bracket contests for cash, too.
It’s simple to play: Once the first round schedule is set, and prior to the start of the tournament, you just fill out a bracket sheet by picking a winner in all 63 games.
Brackets can be a fun way to get in on the March Madness action. Plus, the best part is you don’t have to pick every game correctly. You just have to do a better job of picking winners than everybody else in the pool.
Just like they sound, futures are bets where the outcome is not determined until a future date. Traditionally, that means betting on who will win the title prior to the start of the season. However, NJ sportsbooks will take futures bets on college basketball teams all season long and throughout the tournament, right up until the start of the Final Four.
In fact, this is the best way to bet on March Madness prior to the start of the tournament, as you can lay down a bet on who you think will win the National Championship at any time. In fact, the earlier in the season you book the bet, the better the price will often be.
Sportsbooks don’t set moneylines for every college basketball game in the country throughout the season. However, most will for March Madness games.
Betting moneylines could not be any easier. You just pick the team you think will win the game. You’ll see either a positive (+) or negative (-) number posted beside each team. These denote the odds on that team to win.
A negative number means that team is the favorite and represents how much you’ll need to bet to win $100 plus your bet back. A positive number means that team is the underdog and represents how much you’ll win for every $100 bet.
The spread in college basketball is just like the point spread bet on a football game.
NJ sportsbooks will post the line on all March Madness games with either a positive (+) or negative (-) number beside each team.
The negative number means that team is the favorite and represents the points you’ll have to take away from the team’s final score before determining if they are a betting winner.
A positive number means that team is the underdog and you’ll need to add the points to the team’s final score before determining if they are a betting winner.
It’s relatively easy, you just need to pick the winner with the posted line factored in.
Keep in mind that most NJ sportsbooks will make the odds on March Madness spread bets -110 on either side. That means no matter what side you’re on, you’ll have to bet $110 to win $100 plus your bet back.
The total in college basketball is just like the over/under bet on a football game.
NJ sportsbooks will set a line on the total number of points both teams in each game will combine to score. Then it’s up to you to decide if the final score will be over or under that total and bet on it.
Like the spread, NJ sportsbooks will typically make the odds -110 on either side. That means whether you like the over or the under, you’ll have to bet $110 to win $100 plus your bet back.
But the trick is, you have to win every bet that is a part of the parlay to get paid at all.
This is also what makes March Madness parlays far different from brackets.
Filling out a bracket sheet involves entering a pool, and although you make multiple picks like a parlay, you don’t have to win every game to win the pool as you do with a parlay.
March Madness betting tips in NJ
Early round March Madness betting tips
In 2018, Maryland-Baltimore County beat Virginia 74-54 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This is significant because it marked the first time a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament history. A total of 135 such matchups played out with the top seed winning every time before this upset for the ages took place.
It certainly proved March Madness miracles can happen, but they don’t happen too often. Particularly in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, betting on the top four seeds is a sharp play.
In fact, 2018 was an outlier in NCAA history with so many top seeds failing to make the Sweet Sixteen. Betting on something like that happening again would be like putting money on lightning striking in the same place twice.
However, once you get down to the No. 5 vs. No. 12 match-up, it’s time to start thinking about the underdogs. In fact, No. 12 seeds have historically won about two-thirds of these games.
It’s always a good idea to look closely at the spread on these games and others like No. 6 vs. No. 11 and No. 7 vs. No. 10.
There is often value to be found with oddsmakers paying more attention to the differences in the seeding rather than the actual teams.
Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight betting tips
The lines will tighten up in the third and fourth round of the NCAA tournament. Oddsmakers will begin believing any team that can win two or three games is undoubtedly capable of winning even more.
You aren’t likely to find the value in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight that you might have in the first two rounds. However, by this point in the tournament, you’ll be making more educated guesses as to who can beat who.
Watch the games and you’ll see that momentum is real and the teams that are playing the best are the better bets.
In other words, pay more attention to how a team is playing than seeding when betting the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.
NCAA Final Four betting tips
The Final Four means just two semifinal games and the Championship game is left.
At this point, with just four teams to think about, oddsmakers are making fewer if any mistakes. In fact, finding value becomes a near impossible task. Your best bet is to pick a side you like and shop around at different sportsbooks for the best price on your wager.
At this point, the teams that are playing the best and have the most talent will be shining through and betting becomes more of an exercise in getting the most you can out of that knowledge.
Proving that the NCAA knows what it’s doing when it seeds the teams, the higher-seeded team wins close to 75 percent of the time in the Final Four. If you’re looking for a little help in making your Final Four picks, you’ll find it there.
March Madness FAQ
When does March Madness 2019 begin?
The 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament begins with the First Four on March 19 and 20 at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio.
The first round of March Madness games begins March 21.
What are the dates and locations for 2019 March Madness?
Here is the schedule for the 2019 NCAA tournament:
|Selection Sunday||N/A||March 17|
|First Four||Dayton, Ohio||March 19-20|
|1st/2nd Rounds||Hartford, Conn.||March 21-23|
|1st/2nd Rounds||Salt Lake City, Utah||March 21-23|
|1st/2nd Rounds||Des Moines, Iowa||March 21-23|
|1st/2nd Rounds||Jacksonville, Fla.||March 21-23|
|1st/2nd Rounds||Tulsa, Okla.||March 22-24|
|1st/2nd Rounds||Columbus, Ohio||March 22-24|
|1st/2nd Rounds||Columbia, S.C.||March 22-24|
|1st/2nd Rounds||San Jose, Calif.||March 22-24|
|South Regional||Louisville, Ky.||March 28-30|
|West Regional||Anaheim, Calif.||March 28-30|
|East Regional||Washington, D.C.||March 29-31|
|Midwest Regional||Kansas City, Mo.||March 29-31|
|Final Four||Minneapolis, Minn.||April 6|
|National Championship||Minneapolis, Minn.||April 8|
Who’s in the 2019 NCAA tournament?
The NCAA will announce the teams playing in the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball on Selection Sunday, March 17, 2019.
Who are the favorites to win?
The NCAA won’t announce the teams in the tournament or seeding until the middle of March. However, just about a month before Selection Sunday here’s how the Associated Press ranked the top five NCAA basketball teams in the country:
Where can I watch March Madness?
CBS traditionally covers March Madness. There are no CBS television affiliates in New Jersey. However, CBS affiliates WCBS-TV New York and KYW-TV Philadelphia serve the state.
Additionally, check online with CBSsports.com for streaming options.