I know not everyone is familiar with moneyline betting.  Taking a team on the moneyline means you are wagering on a team to win the game outright.  The money lines are adjusted based on who is more likely to win the game (based on the point spread).

Let’s use an example. A 4-point favorite in NCAA basketball might be listed at -204 via the money line.  This means that you would need to wager $204 to profit $100 on the favorite.

On the flip side, an underdog of 4 points would be listed at +166. This means a wager of $100 on the under would pay you $166 if they won the game outright.

How to use our College Basketball Spread to Moneyline Converter

Now that we have examined the basics, let’s find out whether these bets are profitable.  I went back and looked at 20,000+ games to find out whether teams won more for backers at certain spreads.

The charts below compare two different moneylines.  The first is called “expected.” These were found by looking at the winning percentage of every NCAA basketball at that closing line.  We then converted that percentage into a money line.  I then took the expected and compared it to the “actual”.  The actual represents the estimated number a sportsbook would put out for a team.

Let’s use a game as an example.  A road favorite of -3 might have an actual ML of -167.  The expected would is -176.  This means you could bet the team at a discount based on how those teams have performed in the past.

Another way to use this to your advantage is when picking upsets in the tournament.  You won’t always see the lower seed viewed as the favorite.  Sometimes Vegas sees “the underdog” in the committees’ eyes as the team more likely to advance.  I definitely use this trick for my own NCAA bracket predictions.

Expected Money Line vs Actual Money Line Charts

The data is broken down into four parts: home favorites, road favorites, road underdogs, and home underdogs.

*Please note that some higher lines did not have enough games to qualify as significant data.  For those games we used estimated win percentages to better represent those numbers.

Now, on to the road favorites…

Next we’ll check out underdogs, starting with road teams.

Finally, here is the moneyline comparison for home underdogs.

As you can see, there really haven’t been many profitable situations.  This isn’t exactly meant to be a deterrent to betting moneylines, rather, as a guide to use so that you can maximize your value if you are thinking about placing a wager on a certain team.

Figuring Out Expected Win Probability Using the Point Spread

The table below shows the expected winning percentage at each point spread for the favorite and underdog.

Point SpreadFavoriteUnderdog
050.00%50.00%
0.550.00%50.00%
151.70%48.30%
1.553.50%46.50%
255.40%44.60%
2.557.40%42.60%
359.70%40.30%
3.562.10%38.00%
464.10%35.90%
4.566.20%33.80%
568.20%31.80%
5.570.20%29.80%
672.00%28.10%
6.573.70%26.30%
775.80%24.30%
7.577.80%22.20%
879.80%20.30%
8.581.70%18.30%
983.80%16.20%
9.585.90%14.10%
1088.10%11.90%
10.590.30%9.70%
1192.40%7.60%
11.594.50%5.50%
1296.70%3.30%
12.598.90%1.10%
13 & Up100.00%0.00%

I don’t think this data is skewed by teams covering more often at a given line either.  This shows just wins and losses.  If there are enough games in the sample, it should give you the true winning percentage predicted by the sports books.

More Moneyline Conversion Charts