Betting on NCAA Basketball? College Basketball Betting Guide

College basketball is one of America's most beloved sports and one of the most exciting betting markets. Read our full guide to wagering on NCAA basketball.

College basketball is much more than just junior athletics: it's a sport at the heart of American culture and has led to the formation of the sprawling world of NCAA basketball today. With more than 350 NCAA Division I teams spread out over a staggering 30 conferences, it's not like fans of the sport are left lacking when it comes to what to watch.

If you're a college basketball fan and want to get a piece of the action with some online college basketball betting, you're in the right place.

With this expert and easy-to-follow college basketball betting guide, you'll have what you need to improve your strategy and make informed bets on everything the NCAAB offers. Read on to learn everything you need to know about betting on college basketball!

Parlays, Point Spreads, and the Rest: College Basketball Betting Guide

Let's get down to it. The most important thing to know from the get-go is that college basketball betting is similar to NBA betting, with the exception being around player trades. However, where betting on NCAA basketball differs from the NBA betting concerns strategy, we will get below.

The first and foremost thing to burn into your memory is the betting system and options for NCAA basketball. These don't differ wildly from NBA terms. Still, it's helpful to know how they apply to college basketball and basketball in general.

In NCAA basketball, the games are shorter, and the shot clock runs longer than in the NBA, meaning the scores are generally lower. Knowing this, you'll need a solid understanding of the fundamentals to rack up a set of bets that can make you a real profit.

Another thing to consider is that research goes a long way when betting on NCAA basketball. Sportsbooks won't have the same granular stats as in the major leagues, so you might have opportunities to level the playing field.

 With that in mind, let's get into our college basketball betting guide:

Betting on NCAA Basketball: 


A moneyline is simply a straightforward bet on the outright winner of the game. Point spreads do not matter here (see below), and the sportsbook decides on the risk attributed to each wager.

The actual "moneyline" tells you how much you have to wager on a team to collect $100 in profit or how much you stand to win from a $100 bet. 

The favourites get a (-) sign, whilst underdogs receive a (+) sign.

Point Spreads

The point spread makes the underdog more attractive by making it harder to cash out if the favourite wins by adding point requirements for a winning bet.


A parlay in college basketball wagering is a combination of bets and side bets, all of which need to win for you to cash out. As you can guess, a successful parlay can have massive payouts.

Prop Bets

These are player-focused wagers that allow you to bet on the number of points, assists, rebounds, etc., a specific player will have in the game.


Like prop bets zoom in on individual players, futures zoom out to allow you to bet on the bigger picture. Want to wager on the overall NCAA tournament winner? The regular-season conference title? Place a futures bet now and see if it pays off at the end of the season - the payouts can be potentially huge.


If you are short on time, you could place a bet on either the first or second half of the game. 

You can even place completely opposing bets for the first and second half of the game if you like to play both sides (you little Machiavellian, you...).

Totals (Over/Under)

This is a straight-up bet where you wager on whether the game will be low-scoring or high-scoring. The sportsbook will typically set a total points threshold for the game in question - say, 150. If the total points scored by both teams is over 150, the "over" bet pays out. If the total is less than this, the "under" bet pays out.

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Read This Before Before You Bet

While college basketball betting is a game of blind luck, you'll need more than a rabbit's foot or rusty horseshoe to get an edge on the bookies. Before placing that first bet, read these golden rules of NCAA basketball wagering to get off to the best starting position.

Know Your Odds

Know your odds for the love of all that is good and holy! A well-meaning and potentially successful wager will be wasted because the bettor didn't understand how point spreads work. If you doubt anything, refer to the betting explainers list above.

Gather Your Intel

As we've already covered, information is your most potent weapon in college basketball betting. Read up widely on different teams and players from trusted, highly professional sources.

The NCAA's official site or news platforms, such as, provide a complete breakdown of all the stats you'll need to place an informed bet.

Suppose you really want to dig deeper, though. In that case, advanced analysis sites such as KenPom offer arguably the most comprehensive research available. However, this comes with a subscription fee.

Look for Patterns

Finding trends to exploit will not only lead to better betting but also make the whole thing a lot more fun. There are countless trends to identify to help you structure your bets. Does one team only ever win at home? Is there a benched player that isn't getting enough use? Look for trends and see if you can discover something others have missed.

Essential College Basketball Betting Strategies

Specialize Quickly

This one is essential, so you don't start drowning in a mass of numbers, teams, and dates. Choose a division, choose a conference, or choose a region. Stick to this one for the current season and focus your attention here.

Go Against the Grain

In college basketball betting, it can pay to support the underdog. Do your research to see if you can spot a potential underdog winner to help you make the most of those moneylines.

Find Futures That Look Promising

At the beginning of the NCAA season, many odds across major sportsbooks look the same. You'll see the blue-blooded heavy hitters such as Duke and North Carolina are at the very top of the board, with those odds barely moving as the season unfolds.

With college basketball, a good goal is to find some March Madness "sleepers" that might be undervalued. If you can place a futures bet ahead of March Madness on a true underdog, your payout could be pretty chunky.

NCAA Gamechangers

Don't forget that college basketball is a unique sport strongly influenced by several important factors. Keep these in mind when betting:

Rivalry Games

The most significant betting events of the season are usually major rivalry games between two colleges that have been rivals for decades. Duke vs North Carolina. Louisville vs Kentucky. UCLA vs Arizona. You get the picture. Look at your stats carefully when wagering on rivalry games. Look at how heated the rivalry is and the home-court advantages for each rival team.

Home Court Advantages

The home-court advantage plays a huge role in calculating NCAA odds, so they should factor into your betting strategy. The home-field advantage in basketball is typically considered worth 6 points in the spread. Compare this to the 3.5-point advantage in college football. According to the bookies, how much-disadvantaged basketball road teams are is evident.

Choose Your Sportsbook.

When betting on college basketball, choosing the right sportsbook makes all the difference. Some books have a much better college basketball product than others - that means you will get more accurate information and more entertaining betting options. We've done the hard work for you, so simply check out our reviews of the biggest online sportsbooks today to get started.