Our college basketball odds page is designed to direct you to the best bet available so you can maximize your betting profits. Using our odds comparison engine, we post the betting lines from all the major sportsbooks. It's transparent, free, and better yet, you can capitalize on our sign-up deals if you're new to the sports betting game.
That's the first number you'll see beside the matchup between two teams. A basketball point spread is a commonly deployed bet, particularly for beginners, because it's designed to level the playing field regardless of which of the point spreads you bet on.
Favored teams will have a minus sign next to their spread (e.g. -6), and underdogs will have a plus sign (e.g. +6). The numbers represent the number of points the favorite must win in order to pay out a winning bet. The greater the favorite, the more points they must win in order to cover the spread.
On the other side, the underdog team has a bit of a cushion. They don't have to win to give you a successful wager. Rather, they must lose by fewer points than the proposed betting line in order to yield a winning bet.
If you see a half-point rather than a whole number (e.g. +6.5), all that's doing is eliminating the possibility of a push, which occurs when you pick the exact scoring margin. That is, if you bet on, say, Michigan State to win by six points, and they beat North Carolina by a score of 76-70, your bet is refunded; you don't win.
Every college basketball game will feature slightly different spreads and will change leading up to the opening tip-off from what the opening lines are. In NHL or MLB odds, the spreads are fixed at plus or minus 1.5, so it's nice to have a greater margin for error and variance when it comes to college basketball betting lines.
The advantages of wagering on these contests are similar to those of football odds. NCAA basketball is also markedly different than, say, horse racing, where you're betting on individual horses' odds to win or to finish in a particular place.
What's perhaps most unique and exciting about college basketball betting, though, regardless of what line you choose to wager on, is the year-end annual March Madness NCAA tournament. This is where underdogs pull off all kinds of epic runs and write Cinderella stories that are immortalized in their program's history. It's simply not the same sort of situation in the College Football Playoff and makes this sport most special.
Be sure to do your homework before filling out that bracket, because there's bound to be excellent value on the lower-seeded teams in the NCAA tourney.
When you look at the betting odds, lines for NCAA basketball games will have a number that's approximately at -110. What is this, exactly? It's what's known in sports betting lingo as "juice" or "vig" (short for vigorish). All this means is the sportsbook is shaving a little bit off the top of your wager as a sort of tax that you pay on your bet.
The reason for this is the sportsbook is already offering you a bargain by posting point spreads. That's typically easier than picking an outright winner, especially if it's an underdog. In the case of betting the favorite, the oddsmaker is providing the bettor a chance to win more than a moneyline wager. Thus, you don't often see "even money" or +100 odds attached to a spread unless the sportsbook is encouraging action on that side of the spread.
Online sportsbooks do a lot of the calculations for you, which is nice. The aforementioned -110 "juice" figure relates to bets of $100. On an "even money" or +100 spread line, you'd win $100 on a $100 bet. But because the sportsbook is charging a tax, that $100 wager only results in a $90.91 win. You'd therefore need to bet $110 to win $100. Odds change once a game is live, but shouldn't be outside the +100 to -120 range prior to tip-off.
If you're not crazy about betting on the spread, don't worry about it. When it comes to moneyline odds, they're a little easier to follow. No "juice" to be concerned with, nor scoring margin. A moneyline bet means you're simply selecting the outright winner of the game, regardless of the score.
Going this route is certainly a little less forgiving than picking the spread when you're betting on the underdog. If you feel really good that an upset is going to happen, though, go ahead and take the flier on the less favored team's odds to win. Perhaps you'd consider hedging a bet on the spread if you go the underdog moneyline route. That way, there's some built-in insurance in case the outright win doesn't happen.
Moneyline odds are designed to reward bold underdog picks. Say there's a huge favorite, and the spread is something like -7.5 points. That'll usually translate to a -300 moneyline - or even shorter odds. To circle back to our spread bet example in relation to $100, you'd need to wager $300 to win a mere $100 in that scenario or $30 to win $10, and so on. It's a big risk for not such a great reward.
The phrase "any given Sunday" really does apply to the NFL, and it translates to the college hoops, too. The phrase essentially means that even the worst teams can beat the best in any given contest.
If you do go for a big favorite with -300 odds, it may be worth making that part of a larger parlay that features multiple wagers that all must hit for a win. If you have a three-team parlay of heavy favorites, the odds will lengthen, although if you're going that route, it might be worth just picking one winner for a single game.
In the last column of each game, you'll see the Over/Under or Total. This figure is the baseline the oddsmakers have set for the betting lines, and you have to predict whether the teams will combine to hit the Over or the Under of that total. Bear in mind a college basketball Total will be far lower than the NBA. If you're new to the NCAA hardwood betting scene, it's important to be aware of that.
We mentioned the push phenomenon a little earlier. That's possible if the Over/Under is a whole number, but there will usually be a half-point in there to avoid that scenario. Say the Total for a game is at 149.5. It'd take a final score of, say, 75-74 (149 points) or less to hit the Under, whereas a more decisive 85-65 final tally, or a higher combined point total, would result in an Over winning bet.
That juice/vig concept from earlier comes into play pertaining to the Over/Under. The lines will usually be in the neighborhood of -110 odds, but in live betting, you can get slightly better odds. Savvy bettors look to see how teams are trending and which side of the Total they hit more often.
Betting live on the spread, moneyline or Total can be advantageous if you're watching the contest unfold on TV. However, it's also a challenge to process the myriad of variables in a college basketball game that is constantly in flux in real-time. It requires experience to navigate all those elements, along with expert knowledge of the teams involved.
It used to be that friends would take trips to Las Vegas and bet on their favorite team to win the national championship while frequenting the casinos. Now that legal sports betting is picking up across the U.S., that's no longer really the case, because major sportsbooks offer what are called futures, which are, to put it succinctly, long-term investments that won't pay off until a while into the future.
When it comes to college basketball odds, futures wagers are most frequently placed on who will win the championship. There are other types of futures props such as team wins, but those are more prevalent in professional sports, especially in the NFL. A futures bet on an NCAA tournament winner betting is the most common.
It takes a disciplined and patient bettor to take the plunge on futures betting lines. They're very different from regular betting lines because when you're betting college basketball on a regular basis, you get the instant gratification of a winning payout. The action is happening now, and the wagers pertain to what's going on in that particular game or week of the league's schedule.
The odds for futures are far longer than single college basketball lines. It's a lot harder to predict who will win the championship than, say, who will win an individual game. Futures are constantly shifting throughout the season, but the sooner you jump on an eventual winner, chances are, the better bargain you'll get, which will increase your payout in the end if that program wins March Madness. You can also hedge by betting on multiple teams on college basketball national championship futures, whereas you're betting on a singular outcome in an individual game.
For more on all kinds of sports betting teaching points and tutorials, check out our "How to Bet" hub for more online sports betting articles that cover many of the other major sports leagues to help you increase your betting upside.