The college basketball betting market can be overwhelming. With more than 350 teams, all lined on a regular basis, there can be a lot of games and a lot of scrolling on days like Thursday and Saturday. It can be a challenge to keep everything straight when it comes to college hoops, but the starting point is knowing what the odds mean and what the different bet types are.
Note that college basketball is often abbreviated CBB, NCAAB, NCAABB, or CBK in the interest of saving space.
Let’s take a look at the different odds and bet types you will see here at ATS and explain what they mean.
Carefully choosing the right sportsbook(s) for your college basketball betting is important. Not all sportsbooks will list all of the conferences and the teams. If you want to bet the more obscure, smaller conferences because they are local or because you feel like your best edges come there, you will have to figure that out by looking at the odds on a daily basis.
Some of the suggestions that we have would be BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, William Hill, and PointsBet. Each state also has its own sportsbook operators and offerings and we encourage you to look under the Sports Betting menu at the top of our website to see what is available in your jurisdiction.
Spread betting is the default setting for our odds page. Teams are not created equal in all sports, but there are certainly some very big talent gaps in college hoops. A spread is essentially a handicap placed on the better team. It would be too easy to pick the better team to win. Instead, the better team will be the “favorite”, identified by the minus (-) sign in front of the spread. The other team is the “underdog”, identified by the plus (+) sign in front of the spread.
A team might be -7.5 in a college basketball game. The other team would be +7.5. In this scenario, the favorite would have to win by eight or more points to “cover the spread”. The underdog would have to lose by seven or fewer points or simply win the game outright to cover the spread.
To see which team covered the spread, you would either subtract 7.5 points from the favorite or add 7.5 points to the dog. You do NOT do both. It is one or the other, either based on the team that you bet or based on whichever one you choose to use when looking the final result.
The -110 behind the spread is called the vigorish, also known as vig for short or “juice” as a slang term. This is a way for bookmakers to balance risk and is also part of the house edge. The vig will not always be -110. It could be -115 or -120 or some other number from +120 to usually as high as -130 on the spread before the spread itself is adjusted.
If you add or subtract the spread and the two teams are tied, the bet is a “push” and your bet amount is refunded.
College basketball totals can be all over the map. There are so many college basketball teams and conferences that there are wide variances in totals lines. There can be totals as low as 100, but totals as high as being in the 180s. It all depends on the team and conference.
No matter the line, the objective is always the same. You either bet over the total or under the total. If the total is 150 and 151 points are scored by the two teams combined, the game is an over. If 149 points are scored, the game is an under. If exactly 150 points are scored, the bet is a “push” and your wager is refunded.
Like spreads, totals also have vigorish. Once again, the industry standard is -110 and the vig can vary based on how the sportsbooks are looking to balance action.
The goal with this bet type is to pick the winner of the game. As mentioned, there are some very big differences between teams in college hoops. There is no spread with a money line wager, but the vig is much different than it is for spread and total betting.
In a money line wager, you might see a favorite of -260 and an underdog of +220. The size of the money line is correlated to the spread on the game. The bigger the spread, the bigger the minus price on the favorite and the larger the plus price on the underdog.
With all bets that have vig, you will decide between betting “To Win” or betting “To Risk”. For example, you might bet $26 To Win $10 on a -260 favorite. You might bet “To Risk” $10 to win $3.85.
Favorite money lines are higher risk, lower reward and underdog money lines are lower risk, higher reward.
Futures betting is very popular in college basketball because of the postseason tournament format and how easy it can be to hedge. Futures betting entails betting on something to happen in the future, like Duke to win the ACC or Michigan to win the Big Ten. It could mean something like betting Florida State to win the NCAA Tournament or Syracuse to win the NIT.
Those bet types are bigger plus prices because of the variety of different outcomes and the risk involved with making a bet so far into the future.
Prop betting is less prevalent in college basketball because of the number of teams, but that would consist of something like Over/Under Zion Williamson points or Over/Under Ja Morant rebounds. Those will have something resembling standard vig.
You can also usually bet on futures like Player of the Year or Most Outstanding Player for the NCAA Tournament. Some people consider these props, but some also consider them to be futures.