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A lot of people love betting on NCAA basketball.  If you consider yourself an expert on the sport then you might want to try to make some money off of your knowledge while adding a fun and exciting way to watch the college basketball games with a little action on it.

If you are just starting out learning how to bet on college basketball, or you just want to increase your success at it then this guide is for you.  It doesn’t matter if you want to start with the first game of the season, when conference play begins, or when March Madness hits full swing!

What This NCAA College Basketball Betting Guide Explains:

  • How over/unders, moneylines, and spread betting works in CBB
  • Where to bet on college hoops
  • NCAA basketball handicapping strategies to increase your winnings

Understanding How to Read the NCAA College Basketball Betting Odds

Betting NCAA basketball can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it.  You can bet on individual games with sides and totals or combine them with parlays and teasers.  You can view the latest college basketball odds to compare where you’ll find the best numbers.

You can also bet on this to happen within a game with props, or outcomes decided at a later date with futures.  Let’s take a look at all of the options in more detail below.

What Does the Plus (+) and Minus (-) Mean When Betting College Basketball?

A negative number denoted with a minus sign (-) signals which team is the favorite.  A positive number with a plus sign (+) tells you which team is the underdog.

These signs are used both with point spreads and with moneyline so it’s important to understand.  You’ll need to know which team is favored and which team is the dog in order to correctly calculate your bets.

Point Spread Betting Explained (Sides)

Most basketball bets are made on the point spread and luckily, this is the easiest wager to understand.

The sportsbook puts out a number that one team is favored by to try and balance out the action on each side.

If you want to wager on the favorite then they will not only have to win the game, but by more points than the spread.  After the game is over you subtract the spread from that favorite’s score and if they still have more points than their opponent, they cover.  If not, the bet is a loser.

For underdogs, you win your bet if that team wins the game outright, or loses by fewer points than the spread.

Here is an example of a point spread bet to help you understand how it works:

Iowa +10 -110
Michigan -10 -110

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.

What Does -110 Mean: Prices on Sides and Totals in NCAA Basketball Betting

On nearly every basketball point spread and total, you will lay -110 to win 100.  You don’t have to bet in increments of $100 though, that’s just the ratio applied to each bet.  So if you want to bet to win $20 then you have to lay $22.

You have to keep this vig in mind because it means you can’t just pick more winners than losers and profit.  The percentage you need to break even at -110 odds is 52.4%.

There are times when a book will shade a team with the price.  For instance, one team might be -115 and the other -105.  You’ll just have to pay a little more to take the shaded side of the bet, while you’ll get a bit of a break taking the other side.

How Betting Money Lines Work in CBB

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.

Betting NCAA Basketball Totals or 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.  In fact, most smart college basketball bettors know that there are a lot of opportunities in this market.

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.

The price on the over unders is similar to what you’ll have with point spreads.  Most of the time you’ll lay -110, but books will sometimes shade the juice to -115/-105.

More Ways to Bet on NCAA Basketball Games This Season

Parlays for Bigger Payouts

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.  If you want to know the expected payouts using moneylines or non-standard -110 juice our parlay calculator can help you out.

Parlay Payouts
# of Teams
*$10 Wager Payout

College Basketball Teasers & Payouts for Different Betting Options

Do you like a team to win but think the spread is a little high?  Teasers are used to adjust the point spread or total in your favor so it’s more to your liking.

They get their name because the bets start to look too good to be true the more points you move the number in your favor.  The catch is that, like with parlays, all of your combinations have to win in order for you to cash in.

Teasers are not as popular with college basketball bettors as they are in football, but there have been times when I’ve found significant edges.  You want to start by thinking of low-scoring teams in tighter games and see if there are any key NCAA basketball numbers they cross.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s say you want to do a five-point teaser on Kentucky -7, Duke -8, and Michigan State -6.5.  After adjusting for the five points you get Kentucky at -2, Duke at -3, and Michigan State at -1.5.  However, if any of those teams fail to cover the spread you end up losing your wager.

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.

CBB Team & Player Props You Can Bet On

On popular, nationally televised games the sportsbooks will sometimes release prop bets.  Prop bets are defined as a wager on a specific occurrence during a game or larger event.

Player props are becoming more and more popular so books have started to release more options.  This includes more players, more stats, and more games available to choose from.

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.

Team props can be wagers on who will score first, the first team to get to a certain number of points, or who will win the tip.

The only problem with proposition wagers is the juice is sometimes higher.  That is mainly because it’s tough for the oddsmakers to get these numbers right.  They don’t get nearly as much action as sides so the incentives aren’t there.

You’ll also see lower limits with props than with sides and totals.

Futures (NCAA Tournament Odds, Conference Champions, Wooden Award)

Do you want a wager that will last a long time?  Take a look at the college basketball future odds.

These are bets like who is going to win the regular season conference title, conference tournament, and NCAA tournament.  Some places even have the option to bet on the awards for the best college basketball player that year.

You only have to risk a small amount for a big payout.  But, the downside is your money will be tied up for a long period of time.

If you are a small player this can be a good thing though.  You get to place a small wager on a team and get to sweat all of their games out for the entire season.

Betting NCAAB Halftimes

For sides and totals, you don’t just have to take a side 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.  Or, is a team using a new lineup or a lot of freshmen who might need some time to start gelling together?

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?  Was there an injury you need to be aware of?

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 so you can’t just assume the team that was supposed to win the game outright is going to surge in the second half and do so.

Where to Bet on NCAA College Basketball Games: Best Places

Now that you know the different ways that you can make bets on college hoops it’s time to learn where the best places to do so are.  You are no longer faced to choose between going to Las Vegas or calling into a local bookie.  Bettors have never had more options.

Legal Online CBB Betting Sportsbooks

If you are in the United States and your state has legalized sports betting then there is no better place to get your action down.  My favorite books to use are Circa, DraftKings, FanDuel, Ceasers, and BetMGM.

I’d recommend opening up an account at each of them that is available in your state.  This way you can shop around for the best line and take advantage of all of the bonus offers that they use to incentivize their players.

States That Are Legalized

Here is a list of states that currently have a sports betting bill passed:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • DC
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

This list is constantly changing so be sure to check if your state isn’t listed.

Reliable Online Sportsbooks That I Trust

I have put together a list of online sportsbooks that I recommend using.  These places offer big limits and a wide assortment of options.

The reason that I still recommend using online books is that you can get more action down, and the sharper ones aren’t afraid of you winning.  I have been severely limited by most of the regulated betting apps.

I’m not a legal professional and I have no idea what jurisdiction you are reading this in.  The legality of the offshore books isn’t as clear-cut as the ones that are licensed in the states.  If you wish to bet at any of these I would suggest you investigate the laws yourself and you’d do so at your own risk.

BetOnline, Bookmaker, and Pinnacle are three that are as good as it gets when it comes to betting on college basketball.  If you are serious about getting as much down as you possibly can then you really have to have an account funded at those three shops.

Betting College Basketball Through a Local Bookie or PPH

Not all that long ago your choices in the United States were Las Vegas or through a local book.  The legality of betting with these shops is beyond the scope of this article so you’ll have to check for yourself whether this is a viable option for you.

I put them last on the list because it would be my last choice to recommend.  There are other and better options, but acting like they don’t exist would make it seem like I didn’t put the effort into putting together a complete list of places you can bet on NCAA basketball.

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: