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A lot of people love college basketball.  If you consider yourself an expert on the sport then you might want to try to make some money off of your knowledge.  You can do this by betting on games.  There are a lot of options when it comes to betting NCAA basketball.  But, with this article, I’m going to make sure you are well versed with each one.

Point Spreads (Sides)

Most basketball bets are made on the point spreads.  This is the easiest wager to understand.  The sportsbook puts out a number to try and balance out the action on each side.  If you want to wager on the favorite then you subtract the spread from that team’s score.  If your team still has more points then you win the wager, if not you lose.  For underdogs, you add the point spread to that team’s total to see if they cover or not.

On nearly every basketball point spread you will lay -110 to win 100.  However, using a reduced juice sportsbook allows you to bet $105 to profit $100.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

Iowa +10
Michigan -10

In this example, if you want Iowa you will bet $11 to win $10 (or any denomination thereof).  If Iowa beats the Wolverines or loses by less than 10 points your bet will cash.  The only way you will lose is if Iowa loses by more than 10 points.

By taking Michigan you are only going to collect if they beat Iowa by more than 10 points.  A win by less than 10 points means you lose.

If Michigan wins by exactly 10 points then you push.  The amount you bet is returned back to you.

Money Lines

Money lines are straightforward wagers on who is going to take the game straight up.  You don’t have to worry about a point spread.  The sportsbook manages risk by using a number that tells you how much you have to risk to collect $100 in winnings.  For favorites, a minus (-) sign is used to tell the gambler how much he has to put at stake to profit $100.  The underdogs get a plus (+) sign to signal how much a bettor can cash in on a $100 wager.  Let’s take a look at another example.

Iowa +250
Michigan -270

In this example when you think Michigan will beat the Hawks you have to gamble $270 to win $100.  A $100 bet on Iowa would get you $250.  The more likely the favorite is to be victorious, the higher the numbers will be.  If two evenly matched squads are facing off both money lines will be close to -110.

You can read more on understanding money lines or take a look at our conversion chart to see the percentage chance of each team winning at any given line.

Totals (Over/Unders)

Do you think two teams are going to play a high or low-scoring game?  If so then gambling on the total might be your best option.  The sportsbook releases a number and you have a chance to wager on whether you think the total points scored by both teams will go over or under that number.  For example, if the total is 144.5 any bet on the “over” will cash if 145 points or more are scored in the game.  If both teams add up to 144 or less, “under” wagers cash.


You might have heard the term “parlay” before and what this refers to is a combination of bets (sides and totals).  Each one of the wagers has to win for you to cash in on your parlay.  As you can see from the table below for a small amount of risk you have the opportunity to earn some pretty big returns.

*Note the payouts are for -110 bets.  You can still parlay big favorites on the money line but the payouts will be much less.

Parlay Payouts
# of Teams
*$10 Wager Payout


Do you like a team to win but think the spread is a little high?  Teasers are used to adjust the point spreads or totals more to your liking.  Below is the table that illustrates how many points you are allowed to move the odds in your favor and the payout for the number of teams you select.

POINTS5 pts5½ pts6 pts
2 Team-110-120-130
3 Team+145+135+125
4 Team+300+250+200
5 Team+450+400+350
6 Team+600+550+500
7 Team+800+700+600

*Courtesy of Bookmaker.

Our NCAA basketball teaser guide shows you which spreads are better than others.  You will also want to make sure you get the best teaser odds on each of the different possibilities.


On popular, nationally televised games the sportsbooks will sometimes release prop bets.  These are wagers you can place on how many points, rebounds, assists or another stat a player will have in a game.  The options for prop bets are endless.  There are matchup stats between players as well.

The only problem with proposition wagers is the juice is sometimes higher.


You want a wager that will last a long time?  Take a look at the college basketball futures odds.  These are bets like who is going to win the regular season conference title, conference tournament, and NCAA tournament.   You only have to risk a small amount for a big payout.  But, the down side is your money will be tied up for a long period of time.


For sides and totals you don’t just have to take something for the entire game.  There are options to gamble on just the first or second half.  First half bets are a good tool to use if you think a big favorite is going to jump on a team early.  Second half lines are best used only when watching a game.  Did a team have some bad breaks?  Did their opponent shoot lights out from outside?  I wouldn’t take a favorite who is down at the half blindly.  Sometimes the matchup just isn’t as good as oddsmakers originally thought.

Now that you know the different options for NCAA basketball take a look at our betting strategies.  We teach you how to break down games, and what situations typically lead to profits.

How to Bet: