There are few sports in the world of sports betting that compare to betting on college basketball. This is a sport that naturally features long scoring droughts and scoring runs throughout the course of the game, coupled with the ability to lose in the waning moments from teams that play until the final whistle. There are bad beats in every sport that you could wager on, but college basketball just seems to provide the most painful ones.
But when you look past that part of college basketball betting, wagering on college basketball is downright exhilarating. And while there are many similarities with college basketball betting and NBA betting, there are a lot of unique nuances to betting college hoops – the biggest variance coming in March when the world of college basketball dives into a fun-filled jaunt through conference tournaments and ultimately a 68-team tournament to determine the National Champion that season. This is where the term “March Madness” originates from, and madness it most certainly is.
But, there’s a lot more to betting on college basketball than the month of March. Let’s dive in!
NCAA Basketball Spread Betting
As is the case with betting on any other sport, spread betting is the most popular means of betting on college basketball for new bettors and professional bettors alike. Betting against the spread is also the most common way you will hear people familiar with sports betting discuss betting on college basketball.
How college basketball spread betting works is no different with how one would wager on college football, professional basketball or anything else in the world of sports wagering. Oddsmakers will set a point spread for any given matchup by indicating one team as the favorite and the other side as the underdog.
In order for the “favorite” to “cover” their respective point spread, that team will be required to win by a certain number of points indicated by the designated point spread for that game. The favorite in any given matchup is indicated by a minus symbol (-) preceding the spread on the game and the underdog in any given matchup is indicated by a plus symbol (+).
An example of what a point spread in college basketball would look like is as follows:
vs. Kansas (+2)
In this example, Duke is favored to win by 2 points or more over Kansas. If you believed Duke would cover this point spread, you would bet on Duke -2. If you believed Kansas would either lose by 1 point or win the game outright, you would bet on Kansas +2.
In the event Duke won the game by 2 points, regardless of the side you picked, the game would be deemed as a “push” and you would simply have the money you wagered returned back to you.
NCAA Basketball Totals Betting
Betting on totals in college basketball is practically the same thing as betting on the point spread, only instead of betting on the side you believe will cover that spread, you’re betting on whether or not the combined final score of a game will go over or under the game total posted by oddsmakers.
This is where the common terms saying someone likes the “over” or the “under” of the game derive from.
Just like in NBA totals betting, college basketball totals betting can be affected by numerous factors, included but not limited to:
- A great offensive team playing another great offensive team
- A great defensive team playing another great defensive team
- Two high-tempo teams playing
- Two low-tempo teams playing
- Games played on a neutral court (preseason and postseason tournaments are the most common events for neutral-court games)
- Tip times (early AM games tend to have lower totals than night games, particularly in the 1st half)
Because of a longer shot clock, a wide talent discrepancy amongst college basketball teams, 8 minutes less of regulation gameplay and a stronger commitment to zone defense (or defense in general), college basketball totals will almost always be significantly lower than what you will see in the NBA.
An example of what such a total may look like is as follows:
Kentucky Wildcats (O144.5)
at Louisville Cardinals (U144.5)
In this example if you believed that Kentucky and Louisville would combine to score more than 145 points, you would take the “O144.5” here. If you believed the game total would stay under 144 points, you would take the “U144.5”.
NCAA Basketball Parlay Betting
The parlay bet has become extremely popular the more sports betting has picked up in popularity.
For those new to sports betting, a parlay bet is a selection of two or more wagers that are linked together. Instead of betting on a series of individual single-game outcome, a parlay bet is where you wager on all of those games together and are then rewarded with a larger payout than betting on the games individually should you win your wager.
However, it should be noted that with parlay betting it only takes one loss on your ticket to lose your entire parlay bet. Because of this, these bets are more difficult to win than betting on them individually would be. As such, the more teams in your parlay the greater the potential payout.
An example of what a typical parlay ticket may look like is as follows:
3 Team Parlay Pays (+600)
In the above example if Gonzaga, Villanova and Syracuse all covered their individual point spreads, you would be paid out six-times the amount you risked on the parlay.
For the sake of simplicity, a $100 wager in this example would pay out a total of $700 ($600 for the parlay win and your original $100 bet). If any of the teams in your parlay failed to cover, the bet would be marked as a loser and you would be out $100.
NCAA Basketball Teaser Betting
NCAA Basketball Teaser Betting
A teaser bet is nearly identical to a parlay bet but with one major wrinkle – a teaser bet is a type of parlay where you are able to adjust a point spread or total by a certain number of points, making it easier for each side to cover that number.
However, because you are buying points on a sequence of games, the payouts for teasers will be much lower than the payout of hitting a parlay.
Standard college basketball teasers include two or more wagers with lines adjusted by anywhere from 4, 4.5 or 5 points. The most common one used by bettors is a 4-point teaser.
The fewer the points you tease and the greater the amount of teams in your teaser, the higher the payout.
Using the previous parlay example as a 4 point teaser would look like so:
3 Team Teaser Pays (+160)
As you can see, the spread on Gonzaga has now adjusted from -20.5 to -16.5. Villanova has adjusted from -9.5 to -5.5 and Syracuse has adjusted from +5 to +9.5.
If all three individual outcomes occurred, you would net $160 on a $100 wager.
NCAA Basketball Prop Betting
A proposition bet (better known as a “prop bet”) is a type of side wager that asks you to bet on something besides the final outcome of a game.
And while the prop betting market in college basketball isn’t as robust as the prop betting market in professional sports, there is still a lot of opportunity to dive into the prop betting market if that’s what you’re looking for.
Some examples of some common college basketball prop bets you may encounter may look like so:
- Cassius Winston O/U 29.5 points/rebounds/assists
- Duke or North Carolina First Team to 50 Points
- Total combined made 3-point field goals O/U 11.5
- Who will score the first basket, Gonzaga or Texas Tech?
- Virginia team total O/U 61.5 points
There are countless other examples of prop bets that one can wager on, and many bettors find them to be another means to make a game that much more exciting.
NCAA Basketball Futures
In addition to betting on single game matchups, you’re also able to channel your inner Nostradamus and bet on outcomes set to happen in the future (hence the term ‘futures’ betting).
The most common instance of college basketball futures betting is betting on a team to win the NCAA Tournament. However, there are several other ways to jump into the frenzy that is the college basketball futures market.
Some examples of other common futures bets one can make are:
- Betting on a team to win their conference’s regular season crown
- Betting on a team to win their conference tournament
- Betting on a team to be awarded a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament
- Betting on a conference to have the most teams in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament
- Betting on the conference to provide the National Champion
- Betting on a player to win the Naismith Award
- Betting on a team to win “over” or “under” a designated win total
As is the case when betting on an underdog to win straight up, betting on a longer shot team to win their conference or the National Championship would net a much larger payout in the event that dark horse team went on to surprise the rest of the field.
Here at OddsUSA, we are ready to help you with your college basketball betting needs year-round! Good luck and happy wagering!