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NCAA Basketball Odds
How To Bet On NCAA Basketball
Moneyline betting involves selecting which team will win the game, regardless of the exact score. The favorite will have a negative moneyline and the underdog will have a positive sign next to its moneyline, and it will look something like this:
- Gonzaga Bulldogs -150
- Michigan Wolverines +130
So how do you use the moneyline to place your bets? Make things easier for yourself by basing all calculations on the number 100, then do the math later to adjust to your exact wager amount.
When betting favorites, think of the moneyline as the amount you must risk to win $100 in profit. If Gonzaga is the favorite at -150, you will need to put down $150 to win $100.
With underdogs, the moneyline is the amount you stand to win if you place $100 bet. Michigan is the underdog at +130, meaning a $100 risk can earn you $130 in winnings.
All standard moneyline bets include overtime unless otherwise stipulated by saying ‘regulation only’ or something along these lines.
The point spread is a projected winning margin for the favorite and a projected losing margin for the underdogs. Because all teams aren’t equal, oddsmakers set a point spread to even out the game from a betting perspective. The goal of the sportsbook is to attract equal action on both sides of a point spread, ensuring a win for the house based on the juice that accompanies each wager.
Favorites are ‘giving’ points and have a negative sign next to its spread while underdogs are ‘getting’ points, so there is a plus sign next to that line. Here’s how it looks on your sportsbook app:
- Gonzaga Bulldogs -3 (-110)
- Michigan Wolverines +3 (-110)
The favorite here is Gonzaga and betting on the Bulldogs at -3 means needing them to win by four or more points to ‘cover’ the spread and win the wager. The underdog is Michigan at +3 and betting this side means the Wolverines can lose by two or less if they don’t win the game and still win the bet.
At -110 on both sides, a bettor taking either team will have to risk $110 for every $100 in profit. While many spreads do begin around the standard -110, it’s also possible for the juice to vary somewhere between -125 and +100 for a given spread.
In the event the favorite wins by the exact amount laid out in the point spread, the bettor is returned their original stake and the wager is void. All spread bets include overtime unless otherwise stated.
What makes betting spreads in basketball so tricky are free throws. The difference between a favorite covering or an underdog covering is so oftentimes dependent on whether foul shots are taken and made at the end of the second half. And when we’re talking about college players, the results can be unpredictable.
Totals betting requires a pick on whether the combined score of the game will go over or under the predetermined figure set by oddsmakers. Because a college basketball game is 40 minutes as opposed to 48 minutes in the NBA, there is less scoring in NCAA basketball, and a typical total may look like this:
- Gonzaga-Michigan Over 148.5 (-108)
- Gonzaga-Michigan Under 148.5 (-118)
Taking the over here means 149 or more points need to be scored in the game. At -108 odds, bettors must lay out $108 to win $100. Betting the under requires 148 or fewer points on the scoreboard and at -118, it’s a $118 wager for $100 in profit.
As our example shows, not all totals will come with equal juice, though some will. Similar to spreads, it varies from -125 to +100 in nearly all cases before moving a half-point in one direction or the other.
While proposition bets are not as widely offered for college basketball games compared to the NBA during the regular season, there are still a variety of NCAA props to choose from on any given day. Some options include:
- 1st/2nd Half Moneyline, Spread, Total
- Home/Away Team Totals
- Player Points/Assists/Rebounds
It should be noted that not every college basketball game comes with props, though if you’re betting on a game involving a team in a Power Five conference, at least some team and game props will be available. With matchups featuring some of the biggest programs in the country, props for specific players will be offered.
Once March Madness arrives, the whole game changes. Every NCAA Tournament game is treated as an NBA contest from a sportsbook perspective, and nearly every aspect of the matchup is slapped with betting odds.
NCAA Basketball Futures
There are several season-long futures markets related to college basketball, and many of them can be wagered on before or throughout the year. The most popular options include the following:
- NCAA Champion
- Regular-Season Conference Champion
- To Reach Final Four
If you’re looking for the largest payouts possible, picking a team to reach the Final Four or win the national championship is the way to do that. Conference winners can also provide generous odds if taking an underdog but also have more modest lines and are generally considered easier to win.
As is the case in all sports, college basketball bettors can wager after tip-off thanks to in-game lines. While there aren’t nearly as many options once the matchup begins, with live betting, bettors can still take the moneyline, spread, and total along with several props centered around the game and individual teams until late in the second half.
College Basketball Betting Strategies & Tips
Get Multiple Sportsbook Accounts
New bettors often make the mistake of just creating one account and putting the entire bankroll into one site. But signing up for multiple sportsbooks will allow you to shop around and choose the best odds. The more options you have, the higher chance you have of getting the best possible line. It’s entirely possible that BetMGM may have Michigan State -5 (-115) while DraftKings has it at -5 (-105). FanDuel may even offer -4.5 (-125), and now the bettor gets to decide which spread and juice is the best bet out there. The point is that having the ability to shop for lines is imperative.
Monitor Line Movement
Knowing where a line started and how it reaches its current point can be vital information for a bettor. Keep track of line movement and any information regarding public betting percentages, as this could dictate where you go with your pick. Always look for reverse line movement, which occurs when the public is all over one side and the line moves in the opposite direction. This can indicate sharp action is opposing the masses, and this is a measured way to ‘fade the public’ with some actual data behind it.
Look For Value with Lesser-Known Programs
Many times, the casual betting public is focusing on teams they’ve heard of and seen before, which means the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, Pac-12). More specifically, it’s the top teams in those conferences like Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, and Syracuse, just to name a few.
The natural inclinations to bet on these teams or on games featuring these teams means there can be value in lesser-known teams. That could mean betting against Kentucky and taking a lesser-known SEC team because the line is too big, or it could mean avoiding the SEC altogether and focusing on smaller conferences where the betting pool is smaller and oddsmakers aren’t paying as much attention.
Every season, plenty of quality NCAAB programs are looked over because of the conference they play in. Betting on teams from smaller conferences does require a bit more research into their conference, roster, schedule, and home/away splits among other pieces of data. But remember the fingerprints of sharps and the public aren’t messing with the lines nearly as much.
Use Advanced Stats & Analytics
Bettors shouldn’t be basing all of their bets on win/loss records and points per game, as there are much more reliable data points to use. For example, you may want to focus on field goal percentage for and against, turnover percentage, pace of play (especially if betting totals), and floor percentage (ratio of scoring possessions to total possessions).
Bettors also rely on tools such as KenPom, which uses statistical formulas to determine an Adjusted Efficiency Margin for every team on both offense and defense, and also accounts for the differences in strength of schedule.
NCAA Basketball Betting Mistakes To Avoid
Blindly Trusting Trends and Betting Systems: When you’re out there searching for picks, you’ll inevitably come across information about trends or betting systems that point to a specific outcome. While not all trends and systems are bad, blindly trusting this information can lead to a lot of losses.
The thing is, college basketball has a ton of roster turnover each season and the schedules for individual teams (even in the same conferences) can vary wildly.
That means the data is used to form these trends can be faulty, especially if it dates back several years or includes trends like the day of the week, day or night, or some other arbitrary thing that may not matter. All we’re saying is, look into what each trend or betting system is saying before you trust it
Chasing Losses: It goes without saying that you can’t continuously chase losses in sports betting and hope to achieve long-term success, but it’s always worth mentioning.
If you bet college basketball, keep in mind that there are games played nearly every day and you won’t have to wait all that long to get another crack. Save your money for games you feel more confident about tomorrow, rather than forcing yourself to bet yet another game tonight while you’re cold.
Bet Based On Program/Ranking Alone: Plenty of casual bettors make the mistake of betting the name on the front of the uniform or the tiny ranking number next to a team’s name. You can’t bet on Duke because they’re Duke, and you can’t take No. 20 over an unranked team for that reason alone.
Sportsbooks make tons of money this way because the public overvalues these teams, yet the casual bettors keep taking them.
There are certainly times to bet on UCLA, North Carolina, and Kentucky, but you shouldn’t be doing it because you remember those schools going to the Final Four at some previous point in time when the roster was totally different.
Best College Basketball Betting Apps
There are several important qualities that all bettors need to consider before signing up for a sportsbook. This includes welcome offers, deposit options, the range of sports and markets offered, promotions and amenities, and much more. Each of the options on the below list would be a good one for anybody who is looking to wager on college basketball odds throughout the season.
DraftKings isn’t a sportsbook that needs an introduction. In every state where it operates, DraftKings is among the most popular sites out there, and for good reason. It’s known for a generous welcome bonus, which currently includes a deposit bonus of up to $1,200, and for having a huge number of betting options to choose from.
Whether there are 100 games on the slate or just a few, DraftKings is one of the sites that bettors can rely on to have odds and props available.
DraftKings is constantly rolling out daily odds boosts for college basketball wagers, and also has promotions centered around the sport including parlay profit boosts and Bet & Get deals.
FanDuel is much like DraftKings and it makes perfect sense that the two are competitors at the top of the food chain in every common ground that they share. Not to be outdone, FanDuel is another site with a huge list of amenities for the college basketball bettor, and this would definitely be a site to belong to for the NCAAB season.
On top of all the standard markets, FanDuel offers some unique college basketball props along with parlays for most games, giving bettors a way to correlate a side and a total into the same bet. FanDuel also has daily odds boosts and bonus bets associated with betting on NCAA basketball.
While no sportsbook is quite on the level of FanDuel or DraftKings, we must admit that BetMGM is getting pretty close. This is a brand name everybody already knew, but it’s fast becoming one of the very best sportsbook options in a growing number of states.
BetMGM rivals the biggest names in the business when it comes to the number of markets offered both on a daily basis and when it comes to futures. With DK and FD constantly competing against one another, bettors can sometimes find more advantageous lines at a site like BetMGM, and having this account could prove valuable.