Home Lifestyle A Savvy Guide to Becoming a March Madness Pro

A Savvy Guide to Becoming a March Madness Pro

by Hoboken Girl Team
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March is in full-swing and beyond the exciting promise of spring, there’s something extra to buzz about all month long – March Madness. For those who don’t know, March Madness is an NCAA tournament dedicated to college basketball and fans get seriously into it. Whether you’re a March Madness pro or newcomer to the excitement, our contributor Ty has broken it down for everyone to understand + enjoy. Read on to learn all about March Madness 2019.   

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How to Embrace the Madness

The NCAA basketball tournament can be pure chaos, especially if you haven’t eased into watching games throughout the season. The first two days of the tournament {Thursday and Friday} have 16 games per day, with eight more per day on Saturday and Sunday. Yes, that’s a total of 48 games over a long weekend. Now, you may not be able to watch all of them since mundane tasks like working, sleeping, eating, and living your life can get in the way. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Dive into it, even though it may seem tedious. Don’t give up when Sunday rolls around. Post up at a bar for a few hours of day drinking, sneak watch at work, or set up a personalized wall of television screens at home to catch all the action. Many believe {us included} that this first weekend of March Madness is the greatest weekend in all of sports. It’s Christmas for basketball fans, embrace it. But for things get carried away, be sure to prep for the main event.

Study the Bracket + Know Your Underdog

The teams fortunate enough to make it to the big dance are announced on Sunday, March 17th at 6:30PM. While the live selection show can be fun to watch live, it’s kind of a drawn-out process and a shameless attempt to grab viewers.

Feel free to skip it, since there is plenty of action to come. But once the bracket is out, this is a go-to guide for the week. Participants will only have a few short days to fill it out, so study it carefully.

If you’ve never heard a school on the list, do a quick google search. These unknown schools make this event so much fun. Tiny schools from all over the country get their moment in the spotlight, and viewers get to learn about new colleges, the obscure towns they reside in, odd traditions, and weird mascots. Plus, it can be a great opportunity for a pull for the underdog.

Last year, a small Chicago school with fans wearing Harry Potter scarves and an adorable 90-year chaplain named Sister Jean captured the country’s attention. A few years before that, Florida Gulf Coast University, which sounds like an online school, became more familiar than any Ivy League college. Check out their campus, here.

One of our favorite moments was when an injured coach fell off of his chair when his own son made the game-winning shot. The point is, it’s fun to cheer for the little guys. The powerhouses are boring. They always win. The magic is in the underdog.

Read More: Your Guide to College-Affiliated Football Bars in Hoboken

Get to Know the Teams + Matchups

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To brush up on the teams and matchups by checking out some of these awesome podcasts below:

CBS Sports Eye on College Basketball – A pretty straight forward enjoyable pod from two renowned college basketball beat writers. They keep it light and entertaining.

One Shining – This one has a little more humor in it. Brought you by The Ringer {a sports + pop culture site}. It stars a former basketball player that made his name with a blog about his time as a benchwarmer. He demonstrates a love for basketball while acknowledging and celebrating the absurdity of high-level college athletics.

Screen the Screener – These are two gambling wise guys and basketball gurus from New Jersey. This podcast is geared toward hardcore basketball junkies, but the personalities of the hosts can keep entertaining for more novice listeners.

Betting on Teams

Speaking of wise guys and New Jersey, another way to really enhance the enjoyment of March Madness is to put a little action on it. That’s right, sports betting is now legal in New Jersey.

Set up an account using apps like FanDuel Sportsbook or DraftKings Sportsbook. They’re easy to use and sometimes offer some free money on your first few bets. If you want to wager in person, head over the Meadowlands. While filling out a bracket can win you some money and gives you a rooting interest, it’s a huge bummer when your champion is knocked out early and your bracket is in shambles after day one. Putting a few bets down on individual games can get the adrenaline pumping. Here’s a quick rundown of gambling terms you will need to know:

Point Spread: To entice bettors to take action on the underdog, Sportsbooks set a point spread or “line” on the game. You’ll see a plus or minus number next to the team. For Example:

Rutgers {-5} vs Duke

This means that Rutgers is favored by five points. Therefore, if you bet the point spread on Rutgers, they have to win by more than five. If you take Duke, they can lose by as many as four and you’re still a winner. Sometimes you’ll see it displayed with a positive number, like this:

Rutgers vs Duke {+5}

This means the same thing. Rutgers is still favored by five. If you bet Duke, you’re “getting” five points. If this game ends with Rutgers up by exactly five-point, that’s a push or tie. In this case, you get your original money back. You’ll often see the spread include a half point, which then avoids the possibility of a push. If it was Rutgers {-5.5} vs Duke, then there is no way for the game to push.

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Money Line: Betting on the money line means you are betting for the team to win outright, no point spread involved. However, since no two teams are created equal, the payouts will vary. If Syracuse is much better than Boston College, the money line will look something like this:  Syracuse {-300} vs Boston College {+250}.  Because Syracuse is so much better, a bet of $300 will yield a win of $100. You don’t have to bet these amounts, but this is the easiest way to display to the ratio of the payout. If you bet the underdog, Boston College, a $100 bet wins $250.

To avoid any potential troubles or woes, keep the amounts at low, fun levels that you’re okay with losing.

How to Pick Where to Watch the Games: 4 MUSTS

JC Beerfest Valentines Guide

Now that you’re all set for the tournament to begin, all that’s left is picking a spot to watch. We’re sharing a list soon, but you can also do your own research. Hoboken is filled to the metaphorical brim with sports bars. For such a special occasion, however, try and find that Goldilocks of sports bars. The best places have the following:

See More: The Best {Hoboken} Bars to Watch March Madness

1. A Good Television Set Up

Think of entire walls of flat screens like Black Bear or Willie McBride’s. A lesser known but equally great television setup can be found at House of Que.

2. Organization

Great sports bars will have the schedule of games mapped out before-hand. The best actually label its TVs with the day’s schedule. Call ahead to ask.

3. Game Sound On

True sports bars will pump the sound from the telecast through their speaker system, and it makes the viewing experience that much better – the roar of the crowd, the per band rocking out, the play by play guy losing his mind over an exciting play. The VERY best sports bars will mute the TV and mix in music during commercials. Or they could even go all the way and have a DJ spin during commercials and halftime, like Wicked Wolf on NFL Sundays.

4. Specials, Obviously

Let’s face it, its always better to have good food and drink specials, especially if you’re posting up at a spot for hours. Sharing a list of these next week.

Now you are ready to embrace the Madness of March. Let’s get the ball {pun intended} rolling.

What are some of your favorite bars to watch? Let us know in the comments below!  

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