How To Bet On College Basketball Online

College basketball continues to be of the most popular sports to wager on in the United States and the growth of regulated sports betting across the country is only helping to expand its influence even more.

Typically, NCAA basketball is one the sports that helps us bridge the gap between the end of football season and the NBA playoffs, completely taking over the early portion of the spring. College hoops provides fans and bettors with the annual spectacle that is NCAA Tournament, one of the nation’s premier sporting events which brings in as much gambling action as any other throughout the year.

One thing that’s helped NCAA basketball to remain such a popular option is the advancement in mobile wagering. Online sports betting apps give you the chance to wager from your mobile device or computer, allowing for the highest level of convenience possible and opening the door to many additional betting markets. 

Basketball isn’t like football where most of the games are played on just one day of the week. At several points throughout any week during the season, there are dozens of games and betting options to choose from. Could you imagine having to travel all the way to the sportsbook to place bets on multiple occasions every week?

I know you can’t and neither can we, but luckily you don’t have to. Here, we’ll discuss the different aspects of wagering on the collegiate game online and provide some NCAA basketball betting tips for placing bets along with some optinos for different sites to use.

Is It Legal To Bet On NCAA Basketball Online?

Fans of the game that may be newcomers to the industry oftentimes ask: Is it legal to bet on college basketball online? The answer is yes, it is legal to be on, it just depends on where you are.

In the same vein as all other sports, the legality of betting on NCAA basketball is entirely dependent on your geographical location. In May 2018, the Supreme Court opened up the industry to states other than Nevada by striking down the PASPA law that had been in place since 1992.

The ruling meant that including sports betting was now up to the states, some of which have taken full advantage of the booming young industry. Betting on college basketball has never been easier in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where the business is booming and states are generating robust revenues thanks to legal sports betting and more specifically, the mobile aspect of it.

Betting has been legal for some time in West Virginia and Indiana, with additional states such as Colorado and Tennessee now squarely in the picture as well. In total, nearly half of the United States has legalized sports betting in some form, although only a select few have full mobile wagering, and more are expected to join the industry as 2021 rolls on.

There are also several states that have passed legislation to include the ability to wager from remote locations within the state that are currently waiting to be fully launched. Anywhere that accepts legal sports bets for other sports does the same for NCAA basketball and will be happy they do when March Madness rolls around and significant revenue is being generated.

Best Betting Sites For NCAA Basketball

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How To Pick The Best College Basketball Betting Sites

Betting on sports is supposed to be fun and part of what you take from it comes from the quality of the site you’re using. Of course, winning is the thing that will dictate whether you’re truly having fun or not, but user experience goes a very long way. Picking the correct site can make things much easier and actually help you win money at times.

Before blindly choosing an operator to go with, consider all the factors that go into making that decision. To help you out, consider following these steps:

  • List Your Preferences

It’s vital that before choosing a site to use, you know exactly what you’re looking for since some sites may be more conducive to improving your experience. So consider what’s most important to you when it comes to betting on sports. Is it an easy-to-use interface, a wide range of sports to choose from, the most beneficial lines, the best promotions, or the largest sportsbook bonus?

Chances are you’re (correctly) looking for a reliable site with a combination of all of those traits, and luckily plenty of them do exist. But once you boil it down to specific characteristics, you may prefer one site over another. Once you have at least some idea of what you want, there are more steps you can take to make the right decision.

  • The Internet Is Your Friend

Gaming industry websites like BonusSeeker and others that review the apps can be an invaluable tool for deciding the best college basketball betting site for you. We spend significant time on these sites comparing bonuses, promotions, and betting markets, and it’s given us a decent idea of what players are looking for when first signing up.

  • Sign Up For Multiple Sites

This is recommended for multiple reasons, but one of them is figuring out where to get the user experience you’re looking for. Perhaps the best way to figure out which site is for you is by using several of them yourself and comparing them to one another.

We’d recommend signing up for multiple accounts, which means multiple welcome bonuses and multiple sets of lines to shop from and start there. Venture deep into the site and get a feel for the layout and how easy or difficult it is to navigate from section to section. Use the apps back-to-back if you can and oftentimes, your preference reveals itself to you rather quickly once you get an idea of what each site offers.

College Basketball Betting Strategy & Tips

As is the case with most sports, gambling on college hoops isn’t something you can go into blindly and achieve sustained success with. Over the course of time, adopting certain NCAA basketball betting strategies and applying whatever tips you come across can be the difference between winning and losing your hard-earned money.

NCAA basketball handicapping can appear to be a bit overwhelming since NCAA casts such a wide net in terms of teams. Instead of there being only 30 teams in a league like the NBA, there are 32 separate conferences and 350 difference Division I basketball schools. On a given day thee could be anywhere between 50 and 100 collegiate games around the country.

It’s good to remember that some of these leagues and their respective schools won’t come into play very often from a betting standpoint. Many bettors focus on a small pool of larger conferences (although we’ll get into why that’s not always the best NCAAB betting strategy) and the research doesn’t have to be much more in-depth than wagering on other sports.

NCAA Basketball Betting Strategies

The point stands that there are far more contests to choose from when it comes to making college hoops picks compared to other sports and leagues. Below are some basketball betting tips for getting started and staying ahead:

Strategy #1 – Remember NCAA Basketball Isn’t The NBA

College basketball is like the NBA in that the point is to put the ball in the hoop and score more than the other team, but that’s about it. The collegiate game is system-based and puts heavy reliance on coaching and fundamentals, whereas NBA teams less on defense and structure, and more on talent since these are the very best basketball players in the world and can score with such ease.

Aside from the philosophical differences about how the game is played, the rules are what really set the two apart. The college game is two halves and 40 minutes long with a 30-second shot clock as opposed to fur quarters and 48 minutes with a 24-second clock. The three-point line is a closer distance in the NCAA, and college rules also award jump-balls with a possession arrow while the rules for personal and team fouls vary as well.

All of these differences need to be kept in mind, especially for those who go back and forth wagering on both sports on a regular basis.

Strategy #2 – Be Aware Of Line Movement & Bet Percentages

This might be the best college basketball betting tip one can give you. Monitoring line movement and what percentage of the public is on a certain side can be an extremely valuable tool for making NCAA betting predictions, and it can still be done without paying even tho some of the sites with this information do offer that service.

If you don’t have a subscription to a fancy sports data website that may just tell you where the sharps (professional bettors) are leaning, don’t feel bad. All that means is you need do a little research on your own via Google, which will help you make better gambling decisions anyway.

Public percentages aren’t an exact science since wherever you get the information will only have a certain portion of the public information, but how they correlate with the lines is what could give away valuable information.

Strategy #3 – Win/Loss Records Can Be Misleading

Because of the NCAA basketball schedule early in the season, records can be deceptive. Some upper-echelon play very weak out-of-conference schedules to begin the year, inflating their win total early on. For the smaller programs playing against power conference schools, their records can be skewed the other way.

All this means is, don’t go solely based on overall record when making picks, because you don’t always know where that team has been. For betting purposes, keep an eye on against the spread (ATS) records, as those records are more relevant, as well as how teams do in their own conference.

Tip #4 – Don’t Wager On Too Many Games

It’s important to narrow down the number of games and teams you’re going to wager on. There isn’t a set number, but know that the more wagers you place, the lesser the chances are of you actually making some money. This is especially true for straight bets since you’d have to post such an impressive win-loss record to finish the day winning anything.

On Saturdays, the college basketball schedule may have over 100 games in total and even a small percentage of them are way too many games to bet on. There isn’t a set number, but narrow your options and prioritize the wagers and teams you’re most comfortable with.

Strategy #5 – Look For Value In Smaller Conferences

The public is most comfortable with betting on teams they know about and have heard of, which means teams in the power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, Pac-12).

Aside from the influx of public action on these teams, these are also the games that professional bettors are going to wager on from the time it opens and apply their systems to. Lines, spreads, and totals for these games often go through changes before tip-off, and there can be quite difficult getting the line you want and determining where the value is.

Wagering on teams in smaller conferences does require a bit more research into their conference, roster, schedule, and home/away splits among other things. But remember the fingerprints of sharps and the public aren’t messing with the lines nearly as much, and there’s value to be found.

Strategy #6 – Sign Up For Multiple Sportsbooks

Line shopping plays a critical role in wins and losses, and belonging to multiple sportsbooks can be a way to prevent yourself from missing out on a potential win. Not all sportsbooks will have the exact same odds for every game, and comparing lines between multiple sites gives you the option to go after the odds that are most valuable to you.

For example, one site may Michigan -3 (-110) against the spread and -150 on the moneyline. Another operator could have Michigan -3.5 (-110) and -155 on the moneyline. Depending on whether you want to be for or against Michigan in this spot, one site gives you better odds against the spread and a better moneyline payout.

NCAA Basketball Betting Mistakes To Avoid

For nearly every tip regarding what to do when gambling on college basketball hoops, there’s a tip for what not to do. Here’s a couple of mistakes to avoid when trying to make money on NCAA hoops:

  • Betting Based On Name Brand/Ranking

Bettors are oftentimes too comfortable with only wagering on programs with esteemed college basketball pasts, but sometimes household names just aren’t the best bets. It doesn’t mean you have to bet against schools like Duke and Kentucky, but not every wager needs to be on the ‘best’ teams because those are the ones you see on TV.

Also consider than NCAAB top 25 rankings can be unreliable, as some big-name schools can be overrated by its inclusion as one of the country’s best teams based on its name. Plus, against-the-spread records should matter far more than a simple ranking or overall record.

  • Chasing Money

Along the same lines of not making too many wagers, don’t chase your money betting basketball NCAA. There will be dry spells and cold streaks, but there will also be another 100+ games next Saturday and dozens throughout the week. Don’t box yourself into chasing a bet late at night because the early games didn’t go well one day.

  • Blindly Trusting Betting Systems

If you search the web for basketball betting strategies, you’ll find a few websites trying to tell you one system or another is what you should use for gambling on college hoops. The truth is, many systems are dug up over sample sizes that span a large range of time. So even if they’re profitable, you’d have to follow that model for a given number of years to win at the rate it’s showing you.

You can stick to one of these systems for a longer period to bear fruit as the data suggests, but a normal bettor will have a hard time sticking to hard-and-fast rules that don’t apply on a daily or weekly basis. Use the information from betting systems to inform yourself, but don’t blindly pick a random Tuesday game because a system that covers the past 10 years told you to.

How To Read NCAA Basketball Odds

how to read college basketball odds

For bettors that may be new to space, it’s worth creating a short breakdown on how to read college basketball odds the right way. It can appear complicated at first glance, but reading these lines is the same as any other sport and is actually simpler than it seems. Here are a few things new bettors need to remember:

  • View all NCAA basketball betting lines relative to the number 100
  • Favorites have a negative (-) symbol next to their odds while the underdog has a positive (+) sign, and that goes for both spreads and moneylines
  • The higher the moneyline or spread, the bigger the favorite or underdog a given team is

To help further explain how to read and wager on NCAA basketball odds, we’ll use the example above to go through all the most popular wager types that bettors take advantage of throughout the season.

Popular NCAA Basketball Online Bets

There aren’t only a ton of NCAA games to choose from, but there’s also a wide range of bet types that are available as options. Whether it’s standard wagers like moneylines, spreads, and totals or more exotic categories like parlays and futures, most online betting sites offer college basketball markets that cover all the bases of other sports.

Check out the following popular types of wagers as we use odds from FanDuel Sportsbook to provide easy-to-understand examples of how each bet type works:

College Basketball Moneyline

Those first getting into college hoops, generally around the time March Madness predictions are being made across the country, sometimes ask: what is the moneyline in college basketball?

The moneyline (ML) is the most basic way to wager across all sports, including this one since it’s a bet simply on which side will win the game regardless of any point spread. If you’re selecting favorites, think of the moneyline as the amount you’d have to risk in order to win $100. For underdogs, the line is how much you’d win for every $100 wagered.

Using our example above, Michigan State is a huge favorite at -500. This means that in order to win $100, you’d have to wager $500. This is a bit of a drastic example since most teams aren’t favored by quite so much, but it accurately represents the inherited risk of betting favorites on the moneyline.

On the other side, Wisconsin is the underdog at +370. This means a $100 wager could net $370 in profit, but it requires to win a game that oddsmakers find it unlikely they do. Betting underdogs on the moneyline definitely gives you a great return on your investment.

NCAA Basketball Spread Betting

The most popular way to wager in all sports is against the spread (ATS). But you might be wondering: what is ATS in betting? Well, not all college basketball teams are created equal and spreads are oddsmakers’ way of evening out the game from a wagering perspective.

This is a great alternative to the moneyline, which can be risky on both sides. If you’re looking for a modest risk and payouts, bet against the spread since you’ll oftentimes be looking to win around the amount you’re putting on the line.

In our example, Michigan State is the favorite at -9.5 (-110). This means MSU not only needs to win, but the margin must be 10 points or more to cover this spread and make you a winner. The odds attached to the spread (-110 in this case) dictates your risk and your potential payout. It would be a $110 risk for every $100, which are the standard odds you’ll see most often.

College Basketball Totals Betting

Anyone who wagers on NCAA basketball can tell you that totals are just as easy as moneylines to understand. Simply put, oddsmakers set a total for a combined number of points between the two teams and bettors select over or under that amount.

In our example, the total is 131.5 points. A wager on over needs 132 or more combined points between Wisconsin and Michigan State, while the under would require 131 or less in order to win. Since both sides come with -110 odds, either choice requires a $110 wager for every $100 in winnings.

College basketball totals betting can be tricky, live betting on college hoops is even more difficult, because certain teams and conferences have reputations for run-and-gun styles of play that lead to points, and others play games at a slower pace. This causes a wide range for totals to be set by sportsbooks, with most games falling between 120-160 points.

College Basketball Parlays

Parlays are an extremely popular bet across all sports and college hoops is no different. NCAA basketball parlays allow you to combine two or more sides (moneylines, spreads, and totals) into one wager in exchange for enhanced odds and a larger payout.

In order to hit a parlay, each one of the individual sides needs to be correct. The entire wager is a loss if one side falls short, which is what makes parlays tough to win consistently. The potential payout balloons with each added side in a parlay, but the wager also becomes more difficult to win and actually increases the sportsbook’s edge.

Odds and payouts are determined by the number of teams in the wager and the odds of those selections. Online sportsbooks calculate these payouts for you since these wagers can become pretty mathematically complicated to figure out on your own.

Bettors enjoy building parlays because it’s a great way to earn a juicy return on your original investment if all selections are correct. For more information that can help when building college basketball parlays, visit out parlay betting guide!

College Basketball Futures

NCAA basketball futures are exactly what they sound like: wagers centered around NCAA hoops that will be settled at some point down the road. Most of these wagers are placed before the season but plenty of bets are also made as the schedules are played out and odds continuously shift. Here are the basketball futures betting markets you’re most likely to come across as legal online betting sites:

  • National Champion
  • Final Four Teams
  • #1 Seeds In NCAA Tournament
  • Conference Champion
  • Wooden Award Winner (MVP of NCAAB)

The dramatic college basketball postseason also helps these futures wagers take on new life at the endo ft he season, as even more markets are added to the space as March Madness betting starts to heat up.

It begins with conference tournaments, but futures bets on certain regions and the performances of specific teams to reach the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, and championship game become increasingly popular once the NCAA Tournament bracket becomes public as well.

For a more in-depth explanation of bet types, please visit our sports betting guide for information that will be useful when it’s time to make college basketball picks and NCAA bracket predictions!

March Madness Betting Tips

Wagering on the postseason is an entirely different ballgame than making picks throughout the regular season. Whether you’re making NCAA tournament bracket predictions or traditional betting picks using lines from sportsbooks, there are definitely some rules to follow for the best chance at achieving success.

Take these March Madness betting tips and apply them to your NCAA Tournament strategy once the end of the season comes around:

  • Don’t Bet Based On Seed

The easiest thing to do is look at the seed line next to a tournament team and pick based on which squad has the lower seed. That’s your first mistake because one team being seeded higher than another isn’t the sole basis for making March Madness betting picks. Especially when making March Madness predictions against the spread, since the quality of both teams is already built into the line.

Once you get beyond the opening round where some of the matchups can be lopsided (1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, and 3 vs. 14 mostly), there are no hard-and-fast rules about wagering on the lower seed. Take seeding into account but use line movement, betting percentages, results from the regular season, and conference tournament performances to help inform your decisions.

  • Not All Trends Are Worth Following

When it comes time to make March Madness bracket predictions, people tend to harp on NCAA tournament trends and commit to them without checking the facts. When it comes to including top seeds in the Final Four or even the final game, history suggests that’s a smart move, but not all trends have the same track record.

Take No. 12 seeds defeating No. 5 seeds, a matchup that receives tons of attention every year. In 2019, No. 12 seeds did go 3-1 in the opening round and actually covered the spread in all four games. But the four years prior, the No. 12 seed was 3-13 in opening-round games against the fifth-seeded team.

Need another example? From 2015-18, the No. 11 seed went 10-6 against the No. 6 seed, but 2019 saw that flip and the sixth-seeded teams went 3-1.

The truth is, it’s a committee of people creating these seed lines and trying to create compelling tournament matchups. Being placed as a No. 5 or No. 6 (or any seed for that matter) doesn’t magically mean that the team is going to advance because some NCAA tournament trends are coincidental more than anything else.

  • Account For Neutral Court

It’s important to know that college basketball is filled with plenty of teams that prosper in front of their own fans but struggle mightily away from home. You must remember that programs don’t get to play home games during the tournament, as everything is played on a neutral court, so fading teams that struggled outside of their home floor can be a profitable March Madness betting strategy.

It’s also worth checking the location of the region to see if it’s more geographically friendly toward one school or another. If wagering on tournament games against the spread and not merely making NCAA bracket picks, oddsmakers will include geography and the neutral court into the betting line.

Current March Madness 2024 Odds

2021 CBB Champ Odds

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