The road to March Madness is officially paved.
Whether the ride to the next major sporting event in the U.S. goes off without a hitch, time will tell. By now sports fans know to expect the unexpected when it comes to COVID-19.
Hard lessons from the last unforgettable year.
At least for today, fans and sportsbooks can start looking ahead to March Madness betting.
Needless to say, the excitement is starting to grow.
As Aubrey Levy, the VP of content for theScore, told PlayColorado in a recent interview:
“I think we’re still in the stupidly early days of how big this could possibly get. Personally, we were on the precipice of our first March Madness last year when everything shut down. We were just starting to see the ramp up in excitement for it, and then, obviously, the event got pulled. So I’m fired up to see what March Madness does. The Super Bowl is amazing. It’s a fantastic, huge awareness event. March Madness is weeks and weeks of non-stop action. People who don’t watch college (basketball) watch the tournament.”
March Madness betting
Like the Super Bowl, this serves as the first college basketball tournament for the Colorado sports betting market.
There’s always intrigue around March Madness, but adding college basketball betting to the equation puts that on a whole new level.
As Daniel Graetzer, CEO of SportsBetting.com, said to PlayColorado:
“SportsBetting.com is incredibly excited to embark on its first March Madness journey. We’ve seen the mayhem from a distance, and we can’t wait to get in on the action and offer Colorado bettors an incredible college basketball experience. We’ve already been busy planning promos, boosts, props and more for the Big Dance.”
What adds to the anticipation is the fact March Madness didn’t happen last year.
So while skepticism is the name of the game, the NCAA will do all it can to make sure the event happens but as safely as possible for the coaches, players, and all who are involved.
Different feel to March Madness
That’s why the tournament will have a different feel to it this year.
All of the games will be played in Indiana, with the majority of the games taking place in Indianapolis.
As the NCAA website highlights:
Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium. Teams will practice at the Indiana Convention Center with multiple courts set up inside the venue.
Selection Sunday is set for 4 p.m. MST, March 14.
The first four games are scheduled to start that next Thursday.
If the first Super Bowl in the Colorado market is an indication, expect huge interest for March Madness.
The Super Bowl garnered $31.2 million in bets.
According to Graetzer:
“I think we’re going to see some hungry customers ready to roll come tourney time. Particularly with this condensed format in Indianapolis, we’re expecting the action to be hot, heavy and steady. Hopefully, everything will go on without a hiccup and college basketball bettors can really sink their tooth into this unique event.”
Buffs, Rams both have chance to qualify
What would help in terms of local interest is if the University of Colorado and Colorado State University both qualify for the tournament.
The Buffaloes currently sit in third place in the Pac-12 standings (16-5 overall, 10-4 in the conference).
The Rams are also in third place in the Mountain West Conference (14-4, 11-3).
In the latest ESPN Bracketology, both CU and CSU qualify for the tournament.
If the Selection Committee does tourney invites to the Buffs and Rams, the betting interest should shoot up.
As Graetzer said:
“The Buffs’ chances look really good at this point. I think only a first-round exit in the Pac-12 tournament would jeopardize their ticket. The Rams are right there, and if they can finish the regular season strong and win the Mountain West, they’re in. I know the committee doesn’t love to hand out multiple invites to mid-major conferences, but this is a solid group that should get a couple of teams to Indy.”
Another first for Colorado sports betting
Now that the road to March Madness is paved, college basketball betting is about to hit a whole new level.
As Levy said:
“For us, we need to get really prepared — come up with amazing promotions. Make sure our offerings are on point, our interrogation is on point, and strap in to see how big we can push. Pretty universally, the consensus across most operators is, even in states like New Jersey, which is the biggest case study of post, past or regulated sports betting, it’s still so early as far as general mass market awareness. Where products are to make them approachable and easy to use. We saw some stats the other day that said, notwithstanding, all of the crazy amounts of marketing that guys like DraftKings, FanDuel, and all the big spenders are doing, we’re still nowhere near a penetrated awareness of legalized sports betting in states.
“So a lot of people still don’t know what the options are for them for betting. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on how you service someone who is a new sports bettor, not a hardcore bettor. What does that offering look like, if it’s not -110? Especially as you talk about those marquee events, Super Bowl, playoffs, March Madness, where you get this swell of non-endemic betting interests, that’s where you can really start to flex and really start to break away by being creative and innovative and bringing the bet closer to users and making it easier and easier and easier for them.”