With sports betting in New Jersey now legal, we continue to work our way through the sports seasons.
The next sporting event milestone is now upon us: the month of March Madness. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament officially begins Thursday (after play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday).
Beginning April 6, a total of 66 games will be played to determine which team will have the chance to play Duke (so people say) in the championship game April 8 in Minneapolis.
New Jersey online sportsbooks have picked up on the popular bracket contests with several books offering a bracket promotion.
For those looking to dive into the betting action, all 13 sportsbooks will offer wagers on each of the tournament games, with many also providing a live, in-play menu once the games have tipped off.
Get in on the ‘Madness’ in New Jersey
While the core of the public’s gambling focus will be on the standard point spread, moneyline, and over/under wagers, there will also be proposition or prop bets available, too.
Of course, there will be nowhere near the interest or dollar volume in NCAA props compared to the Super Bowl, but NJ bookmakers have posted unique prop betting opportunities in addition to the individual games.
As a refresher, prop bets are tied to relevant outcomes within a game or over a series of games. They can be based on individual player performance, e.g., (Duke’s Zion Williamson to score over/under 25 points in an opening game) or total team performance (which team will win the NCAA’s West Region?).
The sportsbook then sets the line for each prop occurrence, usually charging extra “juice” on props vs. spreads/moneylines, making it easier to profit on these types of wagers.
New Jersey sports betting apps offer prop wagers from the most basic (who will win the national championship?) to thought-provoking (how many No. 1 seeds will make it to the Final Four?).
NJ sportsbooks March Madness prop bets
So, in keeping with the true spirit of March Madness, I’ve reviewed each of the apps and seeded each online sportsbook from No. 13 to No. 1, based on the volume, creativity, and ease of user access of their currently offered March Madness prop bets.
One fact to note is that the sports betting marketplace, in general, and the prop betting menus, specifically, are fluid. So it’s likely that some prop betting options not posted in the morning will appear later in the day or closer to tipoff.
Also, it’s likely that we will see more props as the Big Dance gets underway in earnest at 11 a.m. Thursday and as the tournament unfolds.
Let’s take a look at how each of the 13 NJ sportsbooks fared in their prop bet seedings:
No. 13: Resorts
No. 12: BetAmerica
Not much prop action is happening at BetAmerica. The lone prop bet on offer is the NCAA Tournament winner.
No. 11: Hard Rock
One of the newer kids on the NJ sports betting block, Hard Rock has a single wager on “odds to win the championship.”
In NCAA Tournament parlance, the current prop offerings of Hard Rock, BetAmerica, and Resorts would likely place them in a “play-in” game or even the National Invitational Tournament.
No. 10: Golden Nugget
The latest entry into the NJ online sports betting space, Golden Nugget online sportsbook (launched Feb. 19) offers the basic options of future props for the four region winners and the national champion.
No. 9: 888
Cracking the top 10, 888 Sportsbook is offering individual props on the winners of each of the four regions.
Beyond the regional winners, 888 has not yet posted odds for the national champion, but one assumes 888 will offer these in short order.
No. 8: William Hill NJ
There’s a bit of frustration with William Hill in NJ as it has posted 60+ props for the Nevada operations. But it’s still unclear if any of these will also make to its New Jersey sites.
As the self-proclaimed “America’s #1 Sportsbook,” William Hill has to do a better job for its New Jersey customers.
Right now, a prop for “Best Finish 2019 CBK TRN” isn’t nearly enough.
No. 7: BetStars
BetStars NJ currently offers props for the individual region winners but not for the national champion. They do offer a prop bet based on the number of No. 1 seeds that make it to the Final Four:
BetStars also offers an odds boost around a combo of Duke winning the NCAA championship and Williamson taking home the Most Outstanding Player award. Additionally, there are 13/1 odds on one of a handful of five seemingly random teams to win the tournament.
No. 6: Caesars
In addition to NCAA region futures, Caesars offers an array of straightforward “yes” or “no” props around long-shot seeds winning games as well as specific schools advancing to the Sweet 16.
No. 5: DraftKings and No. 4 SugarHouse
We’re now in the top five of the sportsbook seeding bracket for prop bets. And we are starting to have a little fun.
Also, here is a unique offering from both books based on the total points scored by a team or player in a single game:
DraftKings and SugarHouse also mark the first time in this review where we see a dedicated menu of props related to Duke and specifically to the star freshman, Williamson.
Here is a look at the DraftKings’ props for “Zanos” as he’s referred to by his Duke teammates:
It’s important to note that Duke and/or Williamson’s point totals will not count against any New Jersey opponents.
So, if you place any of these wagers on Duke or its star player, you will also be hoping (or praying) that Duke doesn’t meet New Jersey tourney representatives Fairleigh Dickinson in the semifinals or Seton Hall in the finals.
Games involving NJ schools, such as FDU and Seton Hall, are off the board due to state regulations.
No. 3: playMGM
PlayMGM Sports cracks the top three apps by offering distinctive props around which region will have the national champion as well as the conference that will produce this year’s champ:
According to ESPN’s Chris Fallica, in each of the last eight years, there has been a team seeded seventh or lower in the Elite Eight. Also, there has been a team seeded seventh or lower in the Final Four each of the last six years.
Incredibly, since 2011, nine teams seeded seventh or worse reached the Final Four. With this type of recent history at hand, the playMGM prop below is intriguing:
No. 2: PointsBet
PointsBet launched in New Jersey in December and is hitting its stride for March Madness.
It has made headlines with “Good Karma” payouts for the Saints-Rams NFC Championship game as well as for several bad beats during college basketball season.
They made NJ online gambling news this week by offering future odds on Duke at 3-1 to win the national championship and holding firm on this pricing while other books have priced Duke in the 2-1 odds range.
PointsBet has an array of prop bets, and they continue to add new “flutters” daily including such interesting props as:
- First round’s largest margin of victory
- Number of games to go to overtime
- Number of games to end on a buzzer
PointsBet also has quite a focus on Duke’s Blue Devils. There are 14 Duke tournament props related to team performance, and 13 specifically focused on the aforementioned Williamson:
Maybe the 14th Williamson “performance” prop could be related to both of his sneakers staying in one piece during the entire tournament, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Another exclusive to NJ from PointsBet is if there happens to be a prop out there that you would like to see, tweet to @PointsBetUSA using the tag #NameABet, and they may consider offering it.
No. 1: FanDuel
FanDuel Sportsbook just nudged out PointsBet for my No. 1 March Madness prop seed.
It offers all of the “basic” props for national champion and region winners but also currently has others including:
- Which seed will win the tournament?
- Number of first-seeders in the Final Four
- A “Duke Hub” with 14 specific props for the Blue Devils, Williamson, and R.J. Bartlett
- Teams to be eliminated at/before Sweet 16 or Elite Eight
- Team to advance further, i.e., Duke or Virginia; Michigan or Michigan State; Gonzaga or Virginia
- Name the finalists featuring 12 different matchups
We gave the slight nod to put FanDuel on top primarily because of its clean, well-organized layout on the app.
It’s easy for the user to dive right into the college basketball section, with clearly labeled “Tournament” tab that leads directly to individual headers for “Champion,” “Region,” and “Props.”
Put it all together
While there are many props to choose from across each of the 13 apps, one exciting bet that I’d love to see added during the tournament and onward are some individual game prop bets around “first to score 15/20/30/50 points.”
It can make a game even more exciting and has nothing to do with point spreads or who ultimately wins the half or the game. I have seen it offered by some NJ books for the NFL and NBA. I would love to see some options, even just for some select games, during this tournament.
Now, let the “madness” commence. It’s great to be in New Jersey (or Pennsylvania) and have a variety of alternatives to keep up with the action even if you have a “busted bracket” by this weekend.
As always, it’s up to each bettor to find his or her comfort zone regarding which bets he or she wants to focus on and then shop around for the best value offered by the sportsbooks.
For what it’s worth, my Final Four teams are Duke, Florida, Virginia, and Houston, with UVA bouncing back from their defeat by No.16 seed UMBC in 2018 to win the title this year.
I wish you the best of luck with your brackets and bets over the next three weeks.