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NCAAB Odds & Lines

Understanding NCAAB Odds

The purpose of this piece is to provide even the most novice sports bettor a look into the different aspects of NCAAB odds for sports betting. The focus of this particular article is to be an overview guide for you to understand how to bet college basketball. When it comes to gambling, NCAA basketball is a slightly different animal than its NFL counterpart. College basketball betting provides gamblers with an insane slate of games every day of the week, including usually 20 plus matchups on Saturdays alone.

“In gambling, the many must lose in order that the few may win.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

We will prepare by starting with the basic college basketball betting types, including: reading NCAAB odds, spread bets, moneyline, totals, parlays/ teasers, 1st quarter, 1st half and half-times.


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NCAAB Odds – Spread Bets

In general, point-spread betting is the most popular way to gamble. The point-spread, or line, is a type of bet that equalizes the chance of winning a wager (see example below). An underdog team’s spread will be accompanied with a “+”, while a “-” indicates a team that is favored. The spread bet in college basketball is the most common bet that is made, because most gamblers just want to pick a team to bet on. This bet is interesting because it allows you to bet on either team, regardless of how mismatched they may be. 

Let’s use a hypothetical North Carolina-Duke game to look at the NCAAB odds and a “pretend” result to further understand betting on the spread:

North Carolina +6.5

Duke -6.5

In this scenario, imagine Duke is the No. 2 ranked team in the country, while the Tar Heels are unranked. Even though the Blue Devils are ranked No. 2, this is a rivalry game, so the spread is a little lower than it would be vs another team. Duke is almost certain to win this game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but what helps neutralize this game from a betting perspective, is the line itself. The point-spread for this game is 6.5 points. 


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Bettors who want to wager on Duke -6.5 would be betting on them to win by 7 or more points. For those that wanted to bet on North Carolina, you’d want them to either win the game outright or to lose by less than 7 points. 

Another result that can happen is push. Let’s say that hypothetically the spread for this game was Duke -7 instead of -6.5. If the Blue Devils were to win exactly by 7 points (in that scenario), the wager would be deemed a push, and you’d get your money back, regardless of what side you bet on. 

Now, imagine the final score of the above mentioned game ended: North Carolina 70 — Duke 74

Basically, if you had Duke -6.5, you would’ve lost your bet. And, if you had North Carolina +6.5, you would’ve won, because despite losing the game, the Tar Heels covered the spread by losing by less than 7 points.


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Again, spreads make every game more evenly matched in terms of betting, regardless of how lopsided the game actually looks on paper. 

NCAAB Odds – Moneyline Betting

The easiest way to think of a College basketball odds with a moneyline bet compared to a point-spread bet is that the moneyline wager involves simply picking the winning team. The Moneyline takes the spread out of the equation. Different odds are placed next to each team, those odds will quantify the payout of betting on either team on the moneyline.

For example, using the same North Carolina-Duke game, let’s look at another example scenario.

North Carolina +200

Duke -240

Just like the minus and plus values on the point-spread, those values designate favorites and underdogs in moneyline betting. In this case, Duke is favored at -240 (bet $240 to win $100), and North Carolina is listed as the underdog at +200 (bet $100 to win $200). 

Because the Blue Devils are favored, the sportsbook needs you to risk more to bet on them. After all, they should win this game. So wagering on College basketball favorites with moneylines calls for you to risk a certain number ($240 based on -240) in order to win $100. 

On the other side, the sportsbook is also willing to reward you for taking the underdog, so they give you an incentive to bet on North Carolina. Remember, in our example scenario, North Carolina is unranked, so in this case, the sportsbooks understand that and want to make it worth your while if you bet on UNC to win straight up. In this case, you would risk $100 in order to win $200 (+200) on the Tar Heels.

College Basketball Over/ Under Betting (Totals)

Sportsbooks determine what they believe will be the total points scored by each of the teams combined. Once the Total is set, bettors place wagers on the Over (or Under) of that specific point total.

Basically, Over/ Under bets are wagers made on the combined number of points scored by both teams during the game (this includes overtime). For example, let’s take a look at another hypothetical scenario between the Louisville Cardinals and Marquette Golden Eagles

Imagine that the Total for that game was set to 160 points. If you were to bet the OVER, you would need the Cardinals and Golden Eagles to score a combined number of points of 161 or higher to win your wager. If you were to bet the UNDER, the teams would need to score a combined number of points of 159 or lower to win. If the final total fell exactly on 160 points, the bet would be graded as a push, and you’d get your money back.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical result. If the final score of the game ended: Louisville 80 – Marquette 81. This result would give us a total of 161 (80+81) points. This combined total is over the oddsmaker’s prediction. So, if you bet on the Over, you would win your wager. On the flip side, if you bet on the Under would lose your money.

That’s honestly all there is when it comes to college basketball Over/ Unders Betting. Totals betting is really that easy on paper. This ease of Total bets appeals to a lot of gamblers, especially for those that are new to sports betting. Newer bettors are drawn to Over/ Unders because it is a simple entry point.

Another reason Over/ Under betting is a popular bet overall, is because you’re not forced to choose a team. You don’t have to bet or root against your favorite team or player. If you are a Duke fan, you don’t have to put your money on the rivals at North Carolina. The only thing you’re interested is the sum of the teams’ total points. 

NCAAB Teasers

For those that don’t know what a teaser is and how it works, here’s a quick explanation. The basic principle of a College Basketball teaser is moving the line in your favor. By definition, a teaser is a special, multi-leg bet in which you are able to adjust the point spread or total for a game. 

The most common types of basketball teasers are two-team, four-point or two-team, four and a half-point. Also, two-team, five-point teasers. These points are added to the underdog or subtracted from the favorite. Teasers are considered favorable bets because they give bettors extra points, but as with parlays, you must win every individual leg of your bet to win your wager. You can also do three team teasers, or more. But remember, the more teams you include the larger the payouts, but also the less likely you are to win.

Let’s take a look at some teaser examples. To do so, let’s again use the North Carolina-Duke example we used above.

Again, the NCAAB odds for that game sit at (hypothetical):

North Carolina +6.5

Duke -6.5

Total: 170

First, let’s start with a two-team, four-point teaser. Since the line is -6.5, and you are betting a 4-point teaser, your new line would be -.2.5 if you take Duke. On the flip side, betting the underdog in that situation would bump that number up to North Carolina +10.5.

If you did a two-team, five-point teaser in the same game, your new lines would either be Duke -1.5 or North Carolina +11.5

If you were looking to tease the Total in the aforementioned game you would be able to manipulate the line to either Under 174 or Over 166 (two-team, four-point teaser).

Typically, the price on a two-team, four-point teaser is -120 (bet $120 to win $100) while a three-teamer pays out at +180 (bet $100 to win $180). Be mindful that if a game falls on the adjusted number, the bet is reduced by one (i.e.: a three-teamer becomes a two-teamer). Note that in the event of a tie in one leg of a two-teamer, the bet is a push, no matter if the other selection wins or loses.

NCAAB Parlays & Odds

With parlays, bettors can bet that two or more point-spreads, over/ unders, or moneylines will win, earning a higher payout if all of their picks win than they would have betting each one individually.

Using the same North Carolina-Duke above, if you did a NCAAB parlay bet, you’d be taking odds of say North Carolina +6.5 or Duke -6.5 and Over/ Under 170. Whereas if you use the teaser example above, you are getting more favorable lines as we discussed.

Because of that fact that a parlay line stays the same, they pay out at much better odds than a teaser. Because of the better payouts, parlays also seem to be more popular with bettors overall. 

A two-team parlay generally pays out at +260 (bet $100 to win $260), 6-1 for a three-team parlay, 10-1 for a four-team parlay, and the numbers go up exponentially from there. That is, because the wagers become tougher to win with the more teams you add. 

1st Quarter/ 1st Half Lines

Basketball is broken down into quarters and halves, so naturally, the oddsmakers have made available wagers for these partitions. For NCAA basketball, they are known as the 1st quarter and 1st Half lines. As one might expect, the 1st quarter line is generally a quarter of the entire game’s line, while the first half line is usually about half of the entire spread. These NCAAB lines are available at mostly all reputable sportsbooks.

Halftime Bets

Halftime wagers are only available during halftime of the game. Halftime lines use the events of the 1st half to help determine how the rest of the game will play out. Halftime action can be a good way to capitalize on middle plays.

So there you have it, folks. As you can see above, there are a lot of ways to wager on college basketball. But, there is still a lot to consider if you want to make regular and consistent profits when betting on college basketball lines. The bookmakers are very good at setting these lines, so you’ll rarely find spots where it’s obvious which way you should bet. You’ve got to do your research and try to make genuinely informed judgements. You need to be patient too, and wait for the right opportunities. Now, go get them!

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