All indications heading into the Big East men’s basketball tournament, which begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, are that third-seeded Seton Hall should make the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in the conference tournament.
The Hall (18-12) finished the regular season with a pair of impressive victories against then-No. 16 Marquette and then-No. 23 Villanova. Those victories followed a three-game losing streak that had their March Madness hopes in serious jeopardy.
That the Pirates reached 18 wins prior to the conference tournament bodes well for them when it comes to moving on.
But, until Selection Sunday rolls around this weekend, New Jersey college teams making the cut is still a big IF.
And if one of the local teams does make it, there is one thing NJ sports betting fans must know: You won’t be able to bet on them here.
Seton Hall’s chances in March Madness
Since the formation of the Big East, teams that have won at least 17 games have advanced to the NCAA Tournament 203 times out of 264 opportunities.
The odds only get better after that.
Big East teams with at least 18 wins have qualified 196 out of 231 times while teams with at least 19 victories have been selected 180 out of 201 times.
Should Seton Hall, which opens the tournament Thursday night against sixth-seeded Georgetown, win a pair of games this week, then it will be a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament.
Big East teams that have won 20 or more games have moved onto the NCAA Tournament 188 times out of 193 chances.
Seton Hall split a pair of regular-season games with Georgetown with each winning on its home court. A win would put the Hall into Friday’s quarterfinals, most likely against No. 2 Marquette.
The Pirates defeated the Golden Eagles on March 6, so a loss in the semis, should it come to that, would do little to hurt their chances of moving on. Throw in the Pirates’ December victory against Kentucky at the Garden and the case for Seton Hall is strong.
Other NJ teams of note
Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck could also reach the NCAA basketball tournament and represent New Jersey since winning Tuesday’s Northeast Conference championship game, 85-76.
The second-seeded Knights (19-13) faced the top-seeded St. Francis (18-13) with the winner earning an automatic bid. FDU has won five NEC crowns, the last of which coming in 2016. FDU, which was the No. 2 seed in four of the five years it won a title, was riding a seven-game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s contest.
But don’t expect much from the NEC champ once it reaches the NCAA Tournament. The NEC champ has only five tournament wins since 1981 with four of those coming in the First Four play-in games, the last of which was in 2017.
The only NEC “true” tournament victory was in 1983 when Robert Morris defeated Georgia Southern in the opening round.
New Jersey almost saw another team reach the NCAA Tournament.
Monmouth, despite beginning the season at 0-12, would have gained an automatic bid had they won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) title Monday night. The Hawks (14-21), however, lost the title game to Iona, 81-60.
Betting on Seton Hall in NJ? That’s a no
As part of NJ sports betting law, sportsbooks are prohibited from offering bets on New Jersey college teams, no matter if the game is in state or out of state.
Two sportsbooks got in trouble with the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement after they offered lines on college football games featuring NJ teams. Golden Nugget and Caesars were both fined for the incidents that occurred in September.
In tandem with that, a bill in the state legislature seeks to increase fines on sportsbooks that do offer illegal bets.
March Madness betting options in NJ then are limited to every other team that makes the cut for the tournament. So it’s hard to gauge based on NJ sportsbooks what the odds would be for the Pirates to make it all the way.
That being said, the Garden State still has odds to consider for the upcoming conference championships and regional teams of note.
For instance, BetStars NJ holds New York’s St. John’s University — the seventh seed in the Big East tournament that will play in a preliminary-round game Wednesday night — a 125-1 shot of winning it all.