There are three different answers you may want when trying to figure out how to bet on college basketball:
- “I see Clemson -180 and Syracuse +160. What on earth does that mean?
- “I know how to bet and what all those numbers mean, but I don’t know where to bet.”
- “I know how to bet, but I want to sharpen my handicapping skills and become a more profitable college basketball bettor.”
Let’s start with the basics.
A popular bet in college basketball is the moneyline, which requires you to pick the winner of the game. But it’s not a 50-50 proposition in most cases – you won’t get paid the same for taking Alabama to beat Vanderbilt at home as you would for taking the Alabama to beat Georgia on the road, given the ability of each team.
So each team is assigned moneyline odds by the sportsbook based on their ability, and bettors have to pay a corresponding price. Here’s how they work:
- Michigan -300
- Michigan State +250
American odds like these are centered around $100. So if you bet $300 on Michigan at -300, you’d win $100 if they wins. If you bet $100 on Michigan state at +250 and they win, you’d win $250.
You don’t have to bet $100, of course. If you bet $3 on Michigan, you’d win $1. Bet $1 on Michigan State, win $2.50.
In football and basketball (both in the pros and college), the most popular betting option is the point spread – it’s a bet on the margin of victory in that game.
Let’s use that same example from above.
- Villanova -10.5 (-110)
- Xavier +10.5 (-110)
Because Villanova is so much better than Xavier, sportsbooks are saying it’s about a 50-50 chance that they win by 11 points or more.
Another popular betting option in college basketball is wagering on the total (aka the over/under).
You’re betting on the total points scored by both teams going over or under the number set by sportsbooks.
The Kansas-UNC National Championship total on April 4, 2022 was 151. Kansas won 72-69. That means anyone who took the under cashed their bet because only 141 points were scored.
But depending on the teams and situation, you may have to risk a different amount on the over or under.
Kansas vs. UNC
- Total: 151
- Over odds: -115
- Under odds: -105
Like the moneyline example above, you have to pay more for betting the over than the under. Sportsbooks and bettors have determined the game going over 151 is more likely than it going under.
For every $1.15 risked, you’d win $1. For every $1.05 risked on the under, you’d win $1.
Duke vs. Texas
- Total: 151
- Over odds: -105
- Under odds: -115
Sportsbooks believe it’s more likely the game goes under than over, so you have to pay a bit more to take the under.
Totals are not just limited to the full game. You can bet the first quarter over/under, alternate totals, and more.
For additional explanation, you can explore the articles below.
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