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How to Bet on College Basketball

Sports betting is booming, and there are plenty of opportunities to bet on college sports. College basketball’s March Madness is one of the biggest betting times of the year. If you want to be ready for the big dance, you’ll have to know how to bet on college basketball. Here’s a betting guide on what you need to know.

The NCAA Basketball Season

There are over 350 Division I college basketball teams. This leads to tons of games being played throughout the season. There is no shortage of options to choose from. In March, the NCAA Tournament takes center stage in men’s college basketball. The best teams from each conference compete for the National Championship.

College Basketball Odds

What type of odds will you see as you learn how to bet on NCAA Basketball? Here are a few of the most common you’ll see when NCAA Basketball betting on the top sportsbooks.


A moneyline bet is looking at which team will win the game straight up. You’re betting on the winner. Favorites are usually listed with negative odds while an underdog will have positive odds.

For example, Kansas might be a -175 favorite vs Alabama. This means it would take a $175 bet on Kansas to win $100 if they were victorious.

On the other side, Alabama is a +200 underdog. A bet on the Crimson Tide pays out 2 to 1. If you bet $100 and Bama wins, you would win $200.

Point Spread

A point spread bet is looking at the margin of victory or defeat. Each team is assigned a point value. Point spreads are a nice way to bet on either team despite one being heavily favored to win.

For example, Michigan State might be a -5.5 point favorite vs Illinois. Michigan State has to win by six points or more to cover the spread. Illinois would be a +5.5 underdog. If you place a wager on Illinois, they would need to lose by five points or less for your bet to win.

College basketball betting odds for spreads are usually -110 on both sides. A $110 bet wins $100. A point spread is one of the most common bets no just in college basketball. It’s the most popular you’ll see when you bet on sports.

Total (Over/Under)

A total is also referred to as an over/under. You are betting on the combined points scored in the game. A sportsbook will set a line on how many points will be scored in the game.

Michigan might be playing Minnesota and the total is 145.5. If you bet an over, you need at least 146 total points scored in the game to win the bet. If the game ends 90-70, you would win the bet because 160 total points were scored.

Similar to spreads, totals usually have odds around -110 on both sides. A $110 bet would win $100.

Why Does the Spread or Total have a 0.5?

Something you might notice when looking at spreads and totals is the .5 decimal in most lines. This is there to prevent what is called a push. This is when the bet is a draw and the better gets their money back. 

In college basketball, a team can’t score a half-point. Sportsbooks set lines with a .5 so the bet can fall on either side and avoid draws. Now, there are situations when you will see a point spread or a total as a whole number depending on how the public is wagering.

If Texas is a -10 favorite vs Villanova, they need to win by 11 or more to cover the spread. If the Longhorns win 80-70, the bet would be a push and bettors would get their money back.

More College Basketball Bet Types

We talked about traditional straight bets such as moneylines, spreads, and totals. What other bets can you expect to see in the college basketball betting market?


A college basketball parlay is a combination of different bets into one wager with the goal to boost the odds and increase the potential payouts. The more bets you add to your parlay, the bigger the potential payout. The wagers can be from the same game or multiple games.

Each bet added to a parlay is called a “leg.” Most sportsbooks allow two to twelve legs for a single parlay.


A prop bet is a wager on an outcome within a game. It isn’t necessarily tied to the final result of the game. Some bettors consider these bets to be more fun. A sportsbook will have player, team, and game props.

You can bet on which player will score the most points, who will have the most rebounds, which team will reach 15 points first, and more.

A lot of props will be an over/under type bet. For example, a player will have their total points for the game set at 15.5. You are betting whether they will score over or under 15.5.


A futures bet is a mid to long-term wager for the coming season. College basketball bettors are trying to predict what will happen over the long haul.

Odds are typically released before the season starts and continue to be available throughout the NCAA Tournament. The odds are constantly changing based on what is happening throughout the college basketball season. This is why bettors try to get on board early when the odds are more in their favor.

Common college basketball futures are which team will win the National Championship, or picking a team to reach the Final Four.

Live Betting

Live betting is one of the fastest-growing forms in the entire industry. It involves wagering on an NCAA basketball game as it is in action. The odds are updating quickly to reflect what is going on in the game. It’s a rush for bettors who are watching the game and trying to win big on what will happen next.

Best College Basketball Betting Strategies

If you want to succeed in betting on college basketball, you’ll need a strategy. Here are a few college basketball betting tips to help you out.

Narrow Down the Options

There are a massive amount of teams and conferences to bet on. It’s impossible to keep track of all of the games and teams. If you try that method, you will lose your bankroll quickly. You need to narrow it down.

The best option is to pick a few conferences to follow and bet on. This makes it much easier to learn about the teams and keep track of your wagers.

You Should Count on Form

Form is an important part of college basketball. A good run of form may lead an underdog to upset a strong opponent. This is why it’s crucial to check on a team’s form and latest games before making your bets.

Look into how many points they have scored in the past few games or how good their defense has been over that stretch. This will help you make more informed decisions on betting moneylines, point spreads, and totals.

Tools and Data

Research is essential for bettors wagering on college basketball. It gives you the information and data you need to make smart bets. However, finding the statistics by yourself can be pretty taxing. It’s difficult to research every team and player in the entire country.

This is where betting tools come in handy. You can use sports betting sites such as Betsperts to find the data you need on college basketball games.

Find Odds Early

Sportsbooks will release odds for college basketball games early on. As the game gets closer, odds will update based on information, speculation, injuries, and more. You should try to jump on odds before they are adjusted or the betting line moves.

Keep Track of Your Progress

It’s important to track your betting process. How many bets you’ve made and how much it cost. More metrics like what’s your record. A good bettor will keep track of what they are doing from the first bet of the season until the last. It’s smart to account for every penny that goes in or out of your bankroll.

Mistakes to Avoid When Betting College Basketball

Some common mistakes are made when betting on college basketball.

Blind Betting

If you are betting without doing research, you are betting blind. This leads to poor decisions that will end up costing you money. Don’t randomly pick a team to win without looking into a college hoops game.

Trying to Bet on Too Much

As we discussed before, there are many games to choose from every single day. It’s different than college football where you’re mostly betting on Saturday and there are less than half the Division I teams.

Don’t try to stretch your bankroll out of over tons of games. If you try to bet on anything, it will not end well. You can’t do research on every single game. Focus on a conference to narrow down the teams and games.

Poor Bankroll Management

Many novice bettors will try to overcompensate for their losses by betting extra. This is not a strategy. Before you start betting, figure out how you will be managing your bankroll and stick to it. Have a plan and don’t stray from what you want to do.

College Basketball Betting Events

There are too many college basketball betting lines to choose from. With that being said, there are some major events you might want to consider when betting with online sportsbooks.

Start of the Season Tournaments

These tournaments will attract the top teams from different conferences. They are typically held before the beginning of the regular season in exotic locations such as the Maui Invitational in Hawaii.

Other tournaments include the Legends Classic, Paradise Jam, Myrtle Beach Invitational, Shriners Hospitals Charleston Classic, Hall of Fame Tip-Off, and more. These are popular betting options to get the season started.

Conference Tournaments

Each conference will hold a tournament at the end of the regular season. The winner of the tournament earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. These conferences include the ACC, American East, Atlantic Sun, Atlantic 10, CUSA, Big West, Big Ten, Horizon League, Southern Tournament, and more.

Conference Tournament weekend provides ample betting opportunities as many college teams are in action all day long.

March Madness

NCAA March Madness is one of the most exciting times in all of sports. The 68-team tournament is equal parts intense and unpredictable. Teams compete in the single-elimination tournament for a chance to win the National Championship.

Final Four

The Final Four is the national semifinal round of the tournament. Only four teams remain and two single-elimination games remain to decide who will meet in the championship game. The winners of each meet in the finals, where the winner is crowned the NCAA basketball champion. 

How to Bet on College Basketball

You’ve learned more about college basketball lines, odds, and games. Now, you are ready to start placing college basketball wagers.

Research Games

Make sure that you do your research on all the upcoming bets for the day, tournaments, etc. Place bets on the games you feel most confident in.

Find the Best Odds

Shop around to find the best odds. You can compare odds and lines from different bets. For example, the line for a total bet at one sportsbook might be 145.5 and 146.5 at another. One point could make all the difference.

College basketball spreads can vary as well. All sportsbooks don’t have uniform odds or lines. You can get an advantage by comparing.

Find a Good Sportsbook

You’ll want to find a good sportsbook for betting on college basketball. The best NCAAB betting sites and sportsbooks will have a long list of odds and bet types. These include sportsbooks like DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, Caesars, and more.

Place Your Bet

You know what the best odds are and have chosen a good sportsbook. It’s time for you to place your first wager and be ready to win your bet.

Best College Basketball Betting Sites

There are several sportsbooks to choose from when you are betting. Here are a few of the best basketball sportsbooks for betting on the college market.


FanDuel Sportsbook

States: OH, MD, IL, KS, NY, AZ, PA, NJ, IN, CO, TN, WV, VA, IA, MI,

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10x First Bet

FanDuel Sportsbook is one of the best sportsbooks for live betting. It has also made the same-game parlay famous across the industry. Sports bettors can combine multiple picks into one bet on the same game for a chance to win big.

The sportsbook runs promotions and offers throughout the year. These have included bonuses such as a “No Sweat First Bet.” This means your first bet at FanDuel is covered if it loses up to a certain amount.


DraftKings Sportsbook

21+ and present in participating states. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Bonus Bets!

DraftKings is another popular sportsbook with a solid user interface and betting options. You are able to bet on a long list of college games making it one of the best college basketball betting apps.

Promotions in the past at DraftKings have included offers such as bet $5 and win $150. New users can place a $5 pre-game moneyline wager and win $150 in bonus bets if their bet wins.


Caesars Sportsbook



Caesars has a tremendous rewards program and has made a name for itself in the betting scene. In the rewards program, you can earn points for placing bets. These can be redeemed for rewards.

The sportsbook has had great offers such as a first bet on Caesars. Your first bet is covered if it loses up to a certain amount.




21+ and in participating states. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.$1,000

BetMGM is another major player in the sports betting industry. The sportsbook has live betting, competitive odds, a solid interface, and more.

The sportsbook has offered promotions such as First Bet Offers of up to $1,000. This means your first bet with the sportsbook is covered if you end up losing.


PointsBet Sportsbook

States: IL, NY, NJ, PA, CO, IA, IN, MI, WV, VA

SIGN-UP BONUS!4 x $50!

The PointsBet Sportsbook has some unique betting options that separate the book from its competition. Users can participate in “Points Betting.” You can earn more money based on the result of the game when betting point spreads.

PointsBet has offered Second Chance Bets as promotions. Users can get their first loss replaced with bet credit from the sportsbook.

How to Bet on College Basketball FAQs

Do sportsbooks have odds on every college basketball game?

The major sportsbooks will have most, if not all, of the college basketball action. With that being said, there are so many teams and games that a sportsbook might not have odds for all. Check with your sportsbook if you have questions about the slate of games available.

Can I bet on college basketball?

Yes. Online sports betting is legal and available in several states throughout the United States. Some states do have restrictions on college sports betting. Check with your sportsbook.

Can I bet legally online on college basketball games?

Yes. Geolocation tracking will confirm you are within the borders of a legal state and can place bets. You can use the top sportsbooks such as DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, and more when betting online.

What is a college basketball point spread?

An NCAA basketball point spread is a wager on the final difference in points between two teams in a game. For example, Kansas might be a -4.5 point favorite. To cover the spread, Kansas would need to win by five points or more.

What kind of bets are available for the Final Four?

There is a long list of betting options for the Final Four. There are point spreads, moneylines, totals, props, live betting, and more.

21+ and Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.