How to Bet on College Basketball
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is one of the major bodies governing college basketball in the United States. Hundreds of colleges take part in separate conferences across three divisions (I, II, and III). Division I comprises the biggest schools with large support programs for athletes.
Under current gaming law, it’s legal for US sports bettors to place single wagers on college basketball teams, as long as they're in a state that allows it. You can bet on individual game results or team props within a single game. You can also bet on big end-of-season championships such as the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
Many US states now allow legal betting on NCAA basketball, but there are restrictions in some states. Some states let you bet on every outcome and prop. Other states, meanwhile, do not allow wagering on in-state schools.
Unfortunately for New York residents, they are not able to bet on in-state schools, such as Syracuse, Saint John's, and others.
How College Basketball Betting Odds Work
Before you start, you’ll need to understand college basketball odds and the types of markets online college basketball betting sites offer. There are a lot of potential markets to bet on in college hoops, some of which are linked to individual games. You’ll also have the chance to bet on games as they happen, or back championship winners months in advance.
College Basketball Moneyline Betting
A moneyline bet is the simplest wager in NCAA college hoops. It’s a straight bet on the winner of a game where one team is assigned the favorite and the other the underdog.
Here’s an example:
Vermont Catamounts are taking on Hartford Hawks in a key America East Conference clash. The basketball odds are displayed on a college basketball betting site as follows:
- Vermont: -200
- Hartford: +200
Vermont are considered the favorites. The moneyline odds shown indicate the amount you would need to bet in order to win $100. In this case, you’d need to gamble $200 in order to win a $100 profit.
Hartford are playing away and are considered underdogs. The price is the amount you would win for a bet of $100. In this case, it’s $200. You would also receive your initial stake back.
College Basketball Point Spread Betting
College basketball also lends itself well to point-spread betting. In a point spread, the favorite is assigned a points handicap before the game starts. The underdog will receive the same amount as a points headstart.
- Vermont: -8 (-110)
- Hartford: +8 (-110)
In our example, Vermont are given a -8 handicap and their odds change to -110. This represents a bigger price but first Vermont would have to win by more than 8 points for your bet to come in.
Conversely, Hartford have an 8-point advantage to start with. Their price drops to -110 but their odds of winning the bet also increase.
Imagine the final score is 65-63 Vermont. Hartford would have a final score of 71 with their 8-point head start, winning the point spread in the process.
College Basketball Totals Betting
Totals betting is a popular market in many collegiate sports odds, including college football and college basketball. Essentially, it’s a bet on the total points scored in a game, regardless of individual team scores.
The totals market is displayed as an Over/Under and is normally shown in half-points.
Vermont vs Hartford:
- Over 200.5: -110
- Under 200.5: -110
In our example, the college basketball Vegas odds for Over or Under 200.5 points is -110. If the score ended 86-65 to Vermont, the total would be 151. Therefore, the Under 200.5 bet would win.
College Basketball Futures Betting
You can also find betting odds on events taking place further into the season. The most popular college basketball futures market is the NCAA Tournament, or March Madness.
The postseason tournament consists of 68 teams made up of 32 Conference Championship winners, plus 36 selected teams. March Madness is run as a knockout tournament with each round contested between seeded teams.
U.S. betting apps and sites offer college basketball odds on every round of the NCAA Tournament as well the outright winner. Bet far enough in advance and you can pick up some value, especially if the matchups haven’t been decided yet.
With so many teams taking part in the tournament each year, finding value can be hard. However, online betting sites will often put up big prices on a range of teams to entice speculative sports bettors. This is where you can use a free bet offer to snap up any big odds.
College Basketball Team Props
Some US states allow prop betting on college basketball games. Props are markets on specific outcomes during a game. Oftentimes, prop bets will have little bearing on the result of the game itself.
Team prop bets are wagers on specific team totals. Props can include wagers on points for specific quarters or halves. These bets include:
- Team 1st Quarter Total Points Over/Under
- Team 2nd Quarter Total Points Over/Under
- Team 1st Half Total Points Over/Under
- Team 3rd Quarter Total Points Over/Under
- Team 4th Quarter Total Points Over/Under
- Team 2nd Half Total Points Over/Under
College Basketball Player Props
Some U.S. college basketball betting sportsbooks provide odds on individual player points. You should always check the version of the app or site where you live to see what’s allowed.
Typically, player props are Over/Under bets on markets such as Total Points and Total Rebounds. For instance, a star player for Baylor might be -125 to score over 20.5 points in the game. If they score 20 points, you lose. You’ll win if the player bags 21 points or more.
Some additional examples include:
- Total Points
- Total Assists
- Total Rebounds
- Combined Points/Assists/Rebounds
- Total 3-Point Shots Made
- Total Blocks
- Total Steals
College Basketball Live Betting
Some US sportsbooks also allow in-play betting on college basketball. Live betting is wagering on NCAA basketball games as they happen. You can follow the action live on TV or track the graphic visualizer to study key plays. The basketball odds will change in real time before your eyes!
In-play betting is a great way of securing a profit when you have more information on how a game is playing out. You may have a feeling about Vermont vs Hartford before the game, but you decide it’s better to wait for the game to start.
As it turns out, Vermont race into a 1st Quarter lead and their moneyline odds drop. But as the 2nd Quarter starts, Hartford make a strong comeback. There could be some value in betting on Hartford to win the 1st Half at +240, even if you don’t think they will win the game.
Other in-play markets will open up too. By the end of the 1st Half, 89 points have been scored in the game. The game’s Total Points odds have changed and now read:
- Over 136.5 (-130)
- Under 136.5 (+100)
The college basketball oddsmakers predict a high-scoring game and makes Over 136.5 the favorite. However, watching the game, you notice the action is beginning to slow. You think there won’t be too many more slam dunks and sense a value bet in Under 136.5 at +100.
Popular live-betting options include:
- Point Spread
- Total Points (Over/Under)
- Team Total Points (Over/Under)
- Will There be Overtime? (Y/N)
College Basketball Public Betting and Betting Percentages
It’s important you work out how you are going to choose your college basketball bets before you make them. You may study the form or recent head-to-heads. You may look at which stars are slam-dunking for fun right now, or you might look for underdogs being undervalued in the markets.
You can make clever college basketball picks by knowing how the public is betting. Statistics websites track how the public is betting on NCAAB markets. These stats show the consensus, or betting percentages.
Essentially, college basketball odds and trends help you decide whether you want to bet with the public or against them. You may agree with the public money and want to follow it. However, the college basketball betting site's odds will certainly be lower because of the risk to their overall returns.
Alternatively, you may want to ‘fade the public’ and deliberately bet against the college basketball consensus. This ‘contrarian’ method is common among professional gamblers. They look for value in markets where most of the money has gone on the home side or a hot favorite. The smart cash, the pro gambler feels, should go on the other team.
College basketball betting apps and sites will usually alter their odds to save their position. A heavily-backed home side may end up odds-on. That doesn’t mean they have a better chance of winning but it could just represent the sheer amount of money being bet on them. This can happen if a home team attracts a large number of bets from gamblers in the same state. This is the ideal time for a savvy gambler to bet the other way.
College Basketball Betting Strategies
NCAA basketball offers gamblers a wealth of betting options. You’ll have hundreds of college basketball betting markets to choose from on individual games, and not just on the straight moneyline, totals, and point spread markets. Here are a few simple tips to get you started.
Look for Individual Matchups
Most good U.S. college basketball sportsbooks offer in-depth stats and analysis on individual matchups in college basketball. This information is free and provides an insight into how well teams perform against one another.
Statistics also provide records on how star players perform against each other. You’ll find average points, assists, and shooting percentages. All this information is vital when calculating moneyline bets or props.
Look for Homecourt Advantage
Home advantage is often overlooked when making college basketball bets. Players perform better on home turf and also benefit from being surrounded by a full house of their own fans.
NCAAB sides enjoy a bigger percentage of home wins compared to their professional NBA counterparts. While some teams enjoyed a home win percentage of 66-67%, others had winning percentages of 80% or greater.
Learn to Bet Against the Spread
There’s little value in NCAA basketball moneyline bets. That’s why it can pay to find decent prices in the point spreads. Betting against the spread (ATS) can reap dividends if you know where to look.
You will get much better college basketball odds on hot favorites who have a heavy point handicap prior to the start of the game. This is where you can make profits if you know which favorite to back.
Similarly, an NCAA basketball underdog may have a better chance of winning you your college basketball bet if they start with a healthy points advantage. You may not like the look of Syracuse at +200 on the moneyline, but with a +6.5 point headstart, the odds-on price looks more appealing.
Legal College Basketball Betting in the USA
Many US states offer legalized betting on college basketball. Some restrictions do exist so it’s important you know the rules before placing any bets. For example, some US states carry no restrictions at all, while others prohibit in-play wagering and gambling on games involving home sides.
|No Betting on In-State College Teams||
|No In-Play Betting||
|No Prop Betting||
Where to Find NCAAB Betting Lines
All of the top U.S. betting sites now offer college basketball odds. Back your favorite teams on the moneyline or watch the game and bet in-play on dozens of markets. You can even find value in long odds on the winner of the next NCAA Basketball Championship game.
Best of all, you can open multiple accounts and spot betting trends across several sites. Plus, you can claim a welcome bonus at every U.S. betting app or site. Just open your account and receive free bets to use on college basketball games of your choice. You’ll be able to unlock your winnings as long as you meet the simple wagering terms.
College basketball betting is here to stay in the US. As more and more states come online, the range of markets and offers will only grow bigger. That also means more competitive odds on the biggest NCAA basketball games.
Find out where you can bet today with our exclusive US sports betting guide. We only rate and recommend the best legalized NCAA basketball betting sites in the USA. Sign up with a trusted online betting app or site where you live, use the promo code, and claim a risk-free bet or deposit match bonus.
As the current Product Coordinator and Fact Checker editor for EmpireStakes.com, Matthew Asher has nearly a decade of experience working in public relations and digital media marketing with the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers.Matthew is passionate about the sports betting industry and has been known to explain how to bet on the NFL, College Football and other major sports leagues. He is passionate about making sure you have the most up-to-date and correct information about New York betting regulations.