How to get started betting College Basketball

Every year the NCAA basketball season serves up some of the hottest action the betting market has to offer. Maybe you thought that football had a lot of teams and options? Well, college hoops boasts over 350 NCAA Division I squads across 30 conferences.  This makes betting on college basketball both very exciting and easily overwhelming. For anyone who is looking to make consistent profits on NCAAB betting, you have come to the right place.

The 2019 season tips off Nov. 5 with the 2K Sports Classic, which means there is still plenty of time to get your knowledge on and prepare for the betting season. This betting guide is aimed at educating new bettors on how to read and interpret odds, the types of bets which are common in college basketball and some tips and tricks on beating the sportsbooks.

Understanding NCAAB Betting Odds

Before you head out to your local sportsbook or hit up your offshore account, the most important thing to learn is how odds work and how to read them.  Until you are able to understand NCAAB odds you will be hard-pressed to find even a modicum of success when making wagers.  Lucky for you, getting up to speed isn’t all that difficult. 

There are three main ways in which NCAAB betting odds will be presented:

American Odds (+200)

American odds are the most popular and prevalent with sportsbooks within the USA for NCAAB betting.  The listed number in American odds for a favored team displays how much money you would have to wager in order to win $100.  Say the Duke Blue Devils are -110 to win against the North Carolina Tar Heels and you bet $100 on the game.  If Duke wins, you bank 90.91 plus your original $100 back for a total payout of 190.91.

Things change a bit when betting on college basketball underdogs.  First off, instead of a negative symbol in front of the number, it is a plus sign.  That number shows home much you would win off a bet of $100. UNC is +110 in that game vs. Duke and you laid $100 on them as a slight underdog.  If the Tar Heels pull the upset you would win $110 plus the original $100 bet for a total payout of $210.

Some games against teams who are considered evenly matched may have the letters PK alongside the odds. This means that neither team is favored and the odds are even, sometimes written as +100.

Fractional Odds (2/1)

Fractional odds are more popular in Britain but many sports on the European side of the pond use them, specifically horse racing.  Also known as UK odds, they show the total net payout relative to their state.  Say Gonzaga and Texas-El Paso are playing with UTEP set as 2/1 underdogs.  A $100 bet on them to win would $200, plus the original bet, or 2x your stake. Gonzaga then could be a ¼ favorite, with a $100 bet profit just $25.00, or a quarter of the $100 stake.

Decimal Odds (3.00)

Decimal odds are most prevalent in Europe and Canada and might be the easiest to wrap your head around. Most books offer the option of displaying odds in multiple formats so it’s best to brush up on them.  When reading odds in decimal format, the number quoted represents the percentage of payout based on the original bet.  Syracuse and St. John’s are facing off, with the Orange as (3.00) underdogs to the Red Storm (1.50).  A $100 bet on ‘Cuse would win you $200.00 for a net total of $300, or 3.00 x your stake. That same winning bet on St John’s would net a total of $150, or 1.50x your stake.

Frankly, once you start reading NCAAB betting lines on a daily basis, you will pick all of these up rather quickly. Many sites also offer handy odds calculators to which calculate payout based on odds and are very helpful when starting out.

Now we can go over some of the more common types of bets you will encounter when starting out:

Against The Spread Betting (ATS)

ATS betting or betting the spread is the most common type of NCAAB betting wager.  The spread finds a middle ground between the favorite and underdog and puts a numerical value to it.  Simply put, it sets a number of points on each team which represent how much they are expected to win, or lose by. It is designed to encourage bettors to spread money evenly on favorites and underdogs. 

Say San Diego State is playing Kansas, the spread lines would look something like this;  San Diego State Aztecs (+.18.5) vs Kansas Jayhawks (-18.5). This tells us a few things: That the Aztecs are 18.5 point underdogs with Kansas an 18.5 point home favorite. So SDSU must either lose by less than 18.5 points or win outright. The addition of the half point (.5) is done to avoid a tie or push and ensures that one team will cover the spread without fail. 

Spreads this big represent a great opportunity to bet against (or fade) a team that is heavily favored.  The Aztecs just need to keep the deficit under 18.5 points to win your bet and it’s a lot of room for San Diego State to wiggle into a cover.

NCAAB Betting – Moneyline

Also known as betting straight up (SU) moneyline betting is a close second in popularity to ATS betting in college basketball.  It is favored by new and casual bettors alike.  When betting the moneyline your goal is simple, pick a winner.  There are no spreads or handicaps so the exact scores are of no consequence, just who comes out on top. As mentioned above in the American odds section, moneylines us a scale of $100 when expressing the odds.

So betting $100 on a team at +500 would net you a payout of $600 while a team at -500 would net just $120.00.

Totals Betting

More commonly referred to as Over/Under (O/U) bets, a total is one of the easier bets to get a grasp on.  When betting totals in college basketball all you need to choose is whether the total number of points scored by both teams combined is above or below the set number. That simple really, no worrying about who wins or loses, just how many points are scored.

Over/Under betting lines are usually right around -110 with the fluctuation coming in the number of points posted and not the odds.

Miami and Kentucky are playing with a game total of 89.5.  Anyone laying money on the over needs at least 90 points scored between the two teams, while those betting the under need a total score below 90.  Again the half point negates the possibility of a push.

A very popular way to bet totals is live or in-game betting on them as they move up and down during the game’s action.  An unusually high scoring first half might leave an exploitable 2H live betting line.

Total bets in college basketball can also cross over into the proposition category, or prop bet.  The total number can be set to things like cumulative team rebounds or even individual player stats on points, rebounds or steals.  This really makes totals betting more diverse than the other popular options and gives you a ton of opportunities to make some extra bank during the season.

Other Types of NCAAB Betting

As mentioned above, prop bets are a popular addition to any bettors daily card.  Not only can you bet totals props but anything that doesn’t have a direct tie into the final score is considered a proposition. In college basketball, for example, you can bet who wins a particular half, which team is first to score 10 points or even if a player fouls out or not.  Pretty much if you can think it, a sportsbook might let you bet on it.  Some of these bets still require some predictive skills, but others are just random and more for entertainment purposes.

Parlay betting is when you combine one or more bets together to both make your chances of winning less but your return on investment will be much higher.  The larger payouts are obviously the draw, where putting multiple teams together can significantly drive up potential profits. According to UNLV gaming, sportsbooks also have a reason to like parlays because they win 31.7% of those placed at sportsbooks in Nevada, compare that to 7% for ATS betting.

Teasers are also a popular bet for college basketball and rounds out or exotic betting guide.  They offer the ability to bet on spreads or totals and adjust or “tease” them to better your chances at winning.  Now teasers have the opposite effect as parlays due to the fact that potential profits are lessened as the odds on winning go up of course.

An example of this would be SMU +3.5 vs Baylor, with the total set at 100.  A teaser of 5 points on this game would adjust the lines to make SMU a +8.5 point underdog and raise the total to 105.  The rules to win are still the same but the odds of winning have risen while your payout lessens. This is a great way for people who prefer to bet safe and win more at the expense of total profits.

So you know how to read odds and which types of bets to look for when starting out.  Which brings us to our final step.

Planning Your Attack

Much like any other financial venture, you must formulate a plan which will provide a foundation for your wagering success. If you have any aspirations of making sports betting a long-term part of your life, it is paramount that you create a system and stick to it.  These tips can be applied to many different sports so get to know them well.  So, will you be betting spreads and totals? 

Maybe you want to focus on road underdogs?  Do you prefer to give priority to game totals?  Only you can answer that question, but the important thing is that you find a specialty and run with it.

The next step in the path to college basketball betting success is to properly manage your bankroll.  Ultimately this might be the most important tip in this whole article and applies to sports betting across the board.  Generally speaking, you want to keep all wagers to just 2% of your total bankroll. If you have $1000 dollars in the account, keep your bets to $20.  Simple, but a pillar of any sports bettor worth his salt. The life of a sports gambler is full of peaks and valleys and proper money management is the only way to survive the rough patches.  They will happen, so best be prepared.

Going hand in hand with your bankroll management is keeping good records and financials.  Keeping track of your bets helps you to keep to your system and keep from going off the rails. College basketball bettors specifically will benefit, especially if you want to bet consistently for the whole season, due in fact to the sheer volume of games and the temptation to overbet.

Hopefully, at this point, you are feeling confident enough with the basics to start betting on college basketball come November. We’re provided you will all the fundamentals and tools you will need to build a winning and successful betting strategy. So keep up the research and keep an eye on this blog for more articles on how to bet your favorite sports.