The popularity of college sports in the USA is unique: there is no second country with such a large collegiate athletics fanbase. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, is the largest non-profit organization responsible for the most prominent college sports tournaments gathering thousands of viewers country-wide. Speaking precisely of the NCAA basketball, it is even more popular than the NBA in some regions — especially when a state has a strong college team and no local NBA franchise to back.
Since the US federal government has legalized sports betting, wagering on college sports started to associate with many limitations and restrictions. Most states, even those who willingly accepted new gambling laws and allowed sportsbooks to offer services statewide, hesitated about the legalization of college sports betting. There are many reasons for it: too many options for match-fixing, a desire to protect student-athletes, and more, but, after all, NCAA betting is here, and you can wager on various match outcomes. Sometimes you can’t back your local team, while the other states prohibit particular bet types — but you can make the most popular bets anyway.
This guide will tell you about the most popular betting options on NCAA basketball and will show you the wagering art essentials: how to understand various odds formats, where to find the best prices, how to tell a profitable bet from a lean one.
How to Read NCAAB Odds?
Before we share some betting insights with you, you need to know the basics: how the odds work and how you can understand your chances to win and a possible outcome using them.
When you enter a sportsbook and open college basketball betting lines (actually, any lines, but we will focus on NCAA in this guide), you’ll see teams’ names (colleges, in our case) and some figures next to them. These figures mean much for a bettor: they are called betting odds and help you estimate your possible winnings and make some predictions on the game outcome.
NCAA basketball odds are not different from the other ones, so once you get the principle, you will be ready to go far beyond college basketball lines.
There are three most widespread odds formats: American, Decimal, and Fractional. Since college basketball is hardly popular anywhere but the USA, especially when it comes to making sports wagers, you’ll most likely encounter traditional American odds, but knowing the other options won’t hurt, too.
Most Popular Odds Formats in College Basketball
So, what are the American odds? They look like three-digit numbers with a plus or minus sign. An example:
Who will win the match?
- Baylor: -120
- Gonzaga: +130
When you know how American odds work, a glance at this market will tell you: Baylor is a favorite, and Gonzaga is an underdog. How do we know it?
Negative odds mean a favorite and always imply a less generous payout than the one offered for an underdog. It’s logical: the more probable the outcome is, the less money you can win from betting on it. The number you see in the negative odds means how much you need to wager to get $100, so betting $120 on Baylor will bring you $100 plus your stake amount with the overall payout of $220.
Positive odds have another meaning: they mean how much you can win from a $100 stake. Thus, if you back Gonzaga and they manage to surpass a bookie’s expectations and beat their opponents, you will receive $130 as a net profit and the overall $230 payout.
NB! American odds reflect your net profits, but you receive your winnings plus the stake amount on your sportsbook deposit.
If you come across a European online sports betting sites offering NCAA odds, you might see the following figures given for the same market:
Who will win the match?
- Baylor: 1.83
- Gonzaga: 2.3
This format is called decimal odds, and it shows the overall payout you can get if your wager wins: your stake amount plus your winnings. To understand how much you can win, you simply need to multiply the stake on the odds. Thus, if you decide to wager $100 on Baylor and it wins, a sportsbook will give you back $183 and $230 for a won bet on Gonzaga.
British sportsbooks can also add NCAA lines to their portfolio, so you might find it helpful to know fractional odds, too. As the name suggests, they look like fractions, for instance:
Who will win the match?
- Baylor: 13/10
- Gonzaga: 5/6
The formula is very straightforward: the first number is your possible payout and the second one is how much you need to wager to win this amount. Some prefer converting fractional odds into decimal which is very simple: just divide the fractions and add one: 13/10+1=2.3
College Basketball Odds Legend
We explained to you the odds, and you are now equipped enough to go to a sports betting site and place your first NCAA basketball wager!
However, your enthusiasm might wear off quickly as you see tons of strange abbreviations and letters you’ve never come across before. You can consider this block as a glossary in any situation when you don’t fully get some words or abbreviations.
- Wager: the same as a bet that you place at the sportsbook;
- Bet slip: an analog of a shopping cart in an online store, where you add your betting selections, indicate your stake amount, and confirm your wager;
- Single Bet: a bet consisting of one selection: for instance, when you wager on who will win in the Texas Tech vs. Baylor matchup, you place a single bet;
- Multiple bet: a bet consisting of several selections picked from different games. For instance, you can bet on a team’s victory in one college basketball game and on total goals scored in another match;
- Parlay a multiple bet that wins only if all selections win; if at least one pick is lost, you lose the whole parlay. Some sportsbooks call it Accumulator or simply Acca;
- Consensus: the most popular betting line available at a sportsbook;
- ML: abbreviation for the Moneyline, a bet type;
- PS: abbreviation for the Point Spread, a bet type;
- O/U: abbreviation for Over/Under, a bet type;
- Live Betting or In-play/In-game betting: placing a bet while the game is taking place;
- Pre-match betting: placing a bet before the game starts.
Where can I get the best NCAAB Odds?
Traditionally, sharp bettors claim that the best NCAAb odds are the ones that a bookmaker publishes the first: they are the most accurate and reflect the actual probabilities. Still, the line fluctuation is inevitable after a bookie has accepted the first portion of bets, so you should stick to sports betting sites that offer NCAA basketball lines close to the opening one.
You can use various odds trackers that compare the best college basketball odds for various markets, or simply check out the SuperBetting.com college basketball betting odds section: we always have the most current and accurate odds taken from the most reliable sources on the Internet.
Brief Guide to the College Basketball Betting
College basketball betting has the same most popular markets as offered for professional basketball and actually most other team sports. When we explained to you how the odds work, we actually showed you one of the simplest and most widespread betting markets called the Moneyline: it’s when you predict who will win the game outright.
However, it’s not the only option: in fact, there are many outcomes that you can try to predict in a game. As we have mentioned in the very beginning, college sports, including NCAA basketball, are a bit limited in terms of betting markets.
Thus, you can wager on Props — miscellaneous bets on various events that may happen or not happen during the game.
Props are an essential part of sports betting in the USA and worldwide and sometimes make the largest part of the betting line, but there are still things left to do even when props are not available.
College Basketball Moneyline Betting
As we already mentioned, Moneyline betting is the most straightforward type: you simply make a wager on a match-winner. Obviously, Moneyline becomes more profitable if you are lucky enough to bet on the underdog and they manage to win in the end: the payout might be significantly more than if you back a favorite. Of course, betting on favorite is less risky, but college basketball statistics show that underdogs win in more than 25% of cases, so why don’t you give it a try?
A small hint for novices: sharp bettors are keen on using the ‘Betting against the spread’ strategy. It’s when you wager on a team that everyone else finds an absolute underdog, but it still has a pretty good chance to defeat the opponents. Statistics say the public is more often wrong than right, so it seems reasonable to avoid trends sometimes.
Still, it’s a bit hard to make a good decision that will bring a considerable profit when you have only two straightforward outcomes, after all. What are your alternatives, then? Let’s take a look at the next very popular market.
NCAA Basketball Point Spreads
Points Spread betting is similar to Moneyline but is a bit more complicated. In this case, you bet on the winning margin, so it’s not enough for a team you wager on to win: it’s essential if this team covers the spread instead. Let’s look at a simple example:
- Stanford +6.5 -107
- Washington State -6.5 -107
These are the real NCAA Spreads you can easily find at Caesars sportsbooks and other similar legal online betting sites in the USA. As you see, the odds are both negative: it’s also possible and means that both outcomes are equally probable.
What do the extra figures (+6.5 and -6.5) mean? They have suggested spread points that show a margin between the total score of each team. Suppose you place a spread bet on Washington, and they win with 89-77. The winning margin is 11, which is more than 6,5, so your bet wins. However, if they won with a score of 89-87, your bet would not work out: the winning margin, in this case, is less than 6,5.
The positive point spread is given to an underdog and implies that the team must win or lose with no more than a 6,5 margin. Thus, if you wager on Stanford and they lose with 72-74, your bet will still win.
Obviously, spread betting gives you better chances to win, especially when it comes to college sports where teams are more or less equal.
College Basketball Total Bets
Total is the third of the most popular sports bets in college basketball Vegas odds. It is the same as Over/Under Betting in College Basketball, so don’t be confused if you come across both terms: they mean the same.
Such bets are also very straightforward: you don’t need to predict the winner but must suppose how many goals both teams will score altogether.
Luckily, nobody asks you to guess the accurate total score (there is an Exact Score bet, but it’s a completely different story).
Instead, a bookmaker suggests some number, and you must bet if the overall score goes over or stay under this number.
To avoid a tie situation, when the suggested totals number fully coincides with the actual total points scored, bookies, offer decimal numbers like 105.5 or similar. A Totals betting market might look the following in a sportsbook:
Holy Cross vs. Lafayet
- O 140.5 -107;
- U 140.5 -107.
College Basketball Futures Betting
Futures are predictions made on some large events. Usually, Futures are related to the season’s finals, trophies, and titles teams, players, and coaches receive. The most popular Futures bets in college basketball are, of course, the March Madness winner: this event beats all the records in views and bets annually.
The Futures odds can be really impressive: just look at a small part of the current offering with the top favorites:
Odds to Win 2021-22 NCAAB Championship
- Gonzaga +750
- Baylor +800
- Duke +1000
- Kansas +1200
- Purdue +1200
- Kentucky +1800
- Arizona +1800
- Houston +2000
How to understand college basketball betting lines?
A college basketball line is simply a collection of the most standard betting markets — the ones we discussed earlier. A standard NCAAb line involves the following:
- Spread Betting.
When you enter a sportsbook, select basketball, and click on the NCAA markets, you will see the schedule of the upcoming events and odds for the three most popular markets. To make a bet, simply choose an outcome: it will automatically appear in your bet slip. Most sports betting sites allow you to create parlays: in this case, you can check out college basketball betting lines for several games and add multiple picks from different matches. Your parlay will win if all the bets win — and your payout will be significantly more than from a single wager, as all the odds are multiplied by each other.
Wagering on college hoops is fun, even if you are not a pro: even a rookie gambler can dare to try their skills and luck. Everything you find in this guide is more than enough to start: if you are in love with basketball and think you know who’s the next big star, you are sure to make the right picks and have fun!
Still, responsible gambling must be a part of your experience — from your very first steps in the world of sports betting. There are some simple universal rules that you need to follow to keep your experience healthy and fun, not turning it into a gambling problem. In short, they are budget control, the limit of bets made daily, and calculated decisions.
We hope you treat this seriously and wish you luck!
Sometimes. The odds usually reflect betting trends and show which outcome is the most probable. However, sportsbooks shift the lines, making the betting money distribute evenly, so you still should pay attention to statistics and other factors that can impact the actual outcome.
Yes, they are. We use reliable third-party providers who send us the latest updates from the sportsbooks odds, so you can be sure that you will find the most accurate and up-to-date NCAAb odds at our website.
At the moment, Gonzaga Bulldogs are the favorites of the current season, and their forward, Drew Timme, is one of the first candidates for two major NCAAb awards: Naismith College Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award for College Basketball Player of the Year.
You can opt for all American legal sportsbooks, including the most popular ones like DraftKings, Fanduel, PointsBet, and more. Remember that you won’t be able to place props on college teams and players and wager on games involving local teams in some states.
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