March Madness isn’t just about the brackets anymore.
That was clear in a recent American Gaming Association-commissioned survey.
The survey, conducted in late February by Morning Consult, forecasts that 45 million American adults (more than 17 percent of the U.S. population) plan to wager an estimated $3.1 billion on this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
In all, 29 million more U.S. adults have access to legalized in-state sports betting compared to March 2021. That’s due to the sports wagering launch in states such as Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, New York and Wyoming over the last 12 months.
So, among the 45 million total Madness-wagering adults, an estimated 20.9 million expect to bet outside of bracket contests. Those non-bracket-pool wagers will account for 76 percent of their total betting budget, the AGA figures, up from 55 percent a year ago.
Colorado’s March Madness bettors certainly will be right in the mix once again.
Especially with Colorado State-Michigan tipping off the two-day, 32-game first-round slate at 10:15 a.m. MT Thursday (CBS).
And then there’s the NCAA women’s tournament, which begins in earnest Friday with 16 first-round games. The Colorado-Creighton contest is the third scheduled women’s game Friday, scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. tipoff (ESPNews).
Colorado sports bettors figure to top their March wagering figures from a year ago.
But it will take some doing.
In March 2021, $300.9 million was bet at the the Centennial State’s online and retail sportsbooks. At the time, it marked the second-largest monthly betting handle in the state’s history.
Appealing promo offers available for the taking
Colorado’s online sportsbooks are once again right in the midst of the Madness.
DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel and PointsBet are among the sportsbook apps which have rolled out March Madness sign-up promotions.
It’s the perfect — and potentially lucrative — way to get in on the action.
The DraftKings Colorado offer is particularly appealing.
New customers can sign up, make an initial deposit and then place a $5-plus wager on any pre-game college hoops moneyline. If that team wins, the bettor receives $200 in free bets.
And that’s in addition to the cash winnings from the original wager.
BetMGM Colorado also boasts an intriguing promo offer.
New customers can sign up, make their initial deposit and then place a wager of at least $10 on any college hoops game.
If either team makes a 3-pointer in that game, the bettor receives $200 in free bets. And that’s regardless of the outcome of the original bet.
As for the PointsBet Colorado March Madness promo, new customers can place their first bet — risk-free — up to $2,000.
In addition, first-time users can earn up to $100 in free college basketball bets.
Complete promo terms and conditions can be found on the participating sites.
Higher-seeded CSU an underdog vs. Michigan
The CSU men (25-5) are the South Regional’s sixth seed — the program’s highest-ever NCAA tourney seed.
However, it’s only the 11th Big Dance appearance in school history.
It’s the Rams’ first berth since 2013. And CSU will be trying to make it to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1969.
Coach Niko Nedved’s Rams featured the most efficient offense in the four-bid Mountain West Conference. They finished as the league’s top shooting team in terms of overall field goal percentage (48.5), 3-point success rate (35.8) and free-throw percentage (77.4).
MW Player of the Year David Roddy (19.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game) and table-setting guard Isaiah Stevens (14.9 points, 4.8 assists) lead CSU, which already has posted the third-most wins (25) in program history.
But that hasn’t deterred sportsbooks from establishing 11th-seeded Michigan (17-14) as the favorite.
The Juwan Howard-coached Wolverines tied for seventh in the Big Ten regular season but were one of nine conference teams receiving Big Dance bids.
Hunter Dickinson is (literally) a big reason why.
The 7-foot-1, 260-pound center leads Michigan with an average of 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per outing.
Overall, the Wolverines are making their 11th NCAA tournament appearance in the last 15 seasons. And that includes the 2019-20 when COVID-19 cancelled the Big Dance.
Michigan’s elite-level experience advantage isn’t the only reason it’s a slight favorite.
Over the last 10 NCAA tourneys, No. 11 seeds are 23-21 against No. 6 seeds in the first round. That includes a 11-9 mark over the last five tournaments.
In all, though, No. 6 seeds are 90-54 (.625) vs. No. 11 seeds since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985.