The NCAA Division I basketball tournament (aka March Madness) is one of the biggest events in sports. It attracts viewers and bettors from around the world. With a deep history and some amazing athletes, the tournament makes March quite a month – with plenty of action.
While that certainly applies to the court, it also applies to the betting windows and friendly (and sometimes hardcore) office bracket betting pools.
March Madness betting has become a national pastime with Americans from every walk of life plunking down a few dollars on their favorite teams or hoping their bracket selections bring them a nice payday at the end of the tournament.
West Virginia sports betting is sure to heat up in March. For sports fans, there’s nothing quite like taking in some March Madness at a WV sportsbook watching your bets or bracket pool picks play out live.
Sports betting has been legal in the state since August of 2018 and all five of the state’s casinos now host sportsbooks.
Here’s a look at the betting opportunities in the state:
Hollywood Casino Sportsbook (Ranson) – This was the first sportsbook to open, and is located just off the casino floor near Skybox Sports Bar. It offers 24 odds-display monitors and 50 feet of wall space with 80-inch TVs for checking out games. The casino also offers online sports betting through its partner DraftKings Sportsbook.
Mardi Gras Sportsbook (Cross Lanes) – The newly-opened Bet Lucky sportsbook offers players a nice way to take in the action with plenty of screens and a variety of domestic and imported beers and cocktails.
Wheeling Island Sportsbook (Wheeling) – This popular casino offers its own Bet Lucky for sports wagerers to bet in style. Take in a game or race, and hopefully win a few bucks.
FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs) – This property has partnered with FanDuel Sportsbook for its members-only sportsbook lounge, which is located in The Casino Club and is open during regular hours.
Following FanDuel, DraftKings Sportsbook launched bringing choice and accessibility to the residents of West Virginia.
Additionally, William Hill Sportsbook has been approved to operate in the state, but has yet to share its online sports betting plans.
West Virginia allows for 15 total skins. Currently, only three WV online sportsbooks are planned.
This year’s college basketball championship festivities kick-off as it does every year – with Selection Sunday, set for March 17. After teams have played out their seasons, conference tournaments and champions have been crowned, the selection committee determines the tournament bracket and seeding for each team.
March Madness then ensues and ends with the NCAA Championship Game three weeks later.
The annual tournament now consists of 68 teams playing in the single-elimination format.
It’s a classic structure with little room for error. If your team loses, it’s a long wait until next season. The annual event now includes two “play-in games,” an opportunity for four teams to play their way into the traditional 64-team field.
In total, March Madness features 67 games over a period of 19 days. The action begins on March 17 and culminates with the championship game on April 8.
|March 17||Selection Sunday|
|March 19-20||First Four play-in games||Dayton, Ohio|
|March 21-24||1st and 2nd Rounds||Hartford, Connecticut; Salt Lake City, Utah; Des Moines, Iowa; Jacksonville, Florida; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; San Jose, California|
|March 28, 30||South Regional||Louisville, Kentucky|
|March 28, 30||West Regional||Anaheim, California|
|March 29, 31||East Regional||Washington, D.C.|
|March 29, 31||Midwest Regional||Kansas City, Missouri|
|April 6||Final Four||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|April 8||NCAA Championship Game||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
Heading into March Madness 2018, the American Gaming Association estimated $10 billion would be bet on the NCAA college basketball tournament. Most likely, much of that came in the form of average Joes and Janes filling out a bracket as part of a pool. The AGA estimates that 24 million people competed in bracket pools last year.
How do brackets work?
It’s pretty simple and can require some savvy picks or mere dumb luck, depending on how you approach your bracket and matchups. The setup is pretty simple. Sixteen teams are seeded No. 1-16 in each of four different regions. A ranking is based on several factors including:
It’s up to each individual bettor in the pool to fill out his or her bracket completely – all 67 scheduled games from Round 1 to the championship game.
That includes, of course, paying the pool fee so that winners can receive a nice cash prize. Traditionally completed on paper, more and more pools have moved to online selections. Some players also run a Sweet 16 pool to add some extra mid-tournament excitement, and a few more dollars on the line.
Players are awarded various point totals for winning teams depending on the round. The deeper a team goes, usually the higher points awarded in each round. The player with the most points, in the end, is the winner. Some pools may award payouts for several places depending on the number of entrants.
It’s that easy, and plenty of fun.
Getting those matchups correct is the difficult part. Upsets are a regular part of the action on the court and in 2018, a No. 16 did the unthinkable in the first round.
For the first time in history, a 16th-ranked team knocked off one of the top seeds when the University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC) defeated No. 1 Virginia handily (74-54). The Retrievers spoiled many brackets early, and despite losing in the Round of 32, gave their fans the win of a lifetime.
The UMBC win may be a bit of an outlier in college basketball but shows how upsets contribute to the excitement of March Madness. Don’t go too overboard picking upsets, however, but mixing in a few can have some positive results.
While filling out a bracket can bring plenty of fun with a chance at winning some cash, plenty of bettors also enjoy adding some action on individual matchups. Adding a few dollars with point spreads and the over/under can be fun and yield some returns for skilled gamblers.
When placing those bets, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Teams on a Heater – Records can be important but a team’s play down the stretch offers some insight as to how they’re really playing and their motivation. Look for teams who finished on a hot streak and seem to be on an upswing.
D Up – Many experts also say to look for team’s who play tough defense. These offer some value against the spread and always have a chance at a victory even when the shots aren’t falling.
Short Road Trips – Location can be important. Teams not traveling far to play may have more of a “home” game atmosphere with more fans and less fatigue from hitting the road.
No Emotions – It’s also always important to leave the biases behind when selecting games. You may be an LSU grad, but putting a couple grand on the Tigers versus a strong No. 1-ranked team against the spread could be unwise.
Select Small – Be selective with the number of games you plan on betting and how much of your bankroll you wager. Look for value and games where you’ve done your research and see a chance at making a solid score.
Too many bettors pick a deep slate of games rather selecting a smaller bunch that have a chance at a return on investment. Don’t look for one major score, but instead hope for a nice win overall. Going 7-0 is pretty unlikely, but a solid 6-3 could be a nice goal with hopes for even better. Look for consistency throughout the tournament to profit in the end.
Mind the Bankroll – When it comes to bankroll, don’t wager too large a percentage each round. Better smaller percentages so that your cash will last for the long haul – hopefully with a tidy profit by the time the championship game tips off.
Yes. You can place wagers at any of the five WV sportsbooks.
The first game tips-off on March 19 as four teams play their way into the group of 64 teams.
Teams will be selected and seeded on March 17, Selection Sunday
Teams with consistent NCAA tournament performances such as Duke and Kentucky are always favorites. Additionally, Gonzaga and Michigan State and Virginia are creating some buzz.