How to Bet on College Basketball – College Basketball Betting Strategies

College basketball betting overview, strategies and upcoming matchup odds. Learn how to bet on college basketball! Tutorial discusses spread, total and moneyline bets. You’ll also learn about parlays and if bets. Diversify your wagering portfolio with March Madness props. Catch up on the latest National Championship futures odds below.

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How College Basktball Betting Works

Our college basketball betting guide is broken into two sections. The first has the most common college basketball bets: spread, total and moneyline. The second outlines exotic bets. These are riskier and intended for more advanced bettors. They’re usually not ideal for generating long-term profits. Instead, use exotics for fun or highly favorable situations.

Easy College Basketball Bets

1. College Basketball Spread Betting

Your bet is made on the expected score difference.

Add the spread to the underdog’s final score. The underdog wins if the sum is greater than the favorite’s final score.

Subtract the spread from the favorite’s score. The favorite wins if the difference is greater than the underdog’s final score.

The spread is the smaller of two numbers next to each team. The larger number is the total.

Odds tables indicate the juice to the right of the spread. This is the amount of money you bet to win $100. Assume -110 when no number is given. -110 is standard odds.

College Basketball Spread Example

Kentucky 150
Duke 3½ -115

  1. Bettor chooses favorite Duke Blue Devils. They must win by 3.5 points.
  2. -115 is non-standard juice. Duke bettors lay $115 to win $100. Kentucky bettors lay $105 to win $100.
  3. Duke wins game 78-75.
  4. Bet wins if favorite score minus spread is greater than underdog’s score.

Result: Duke 78 – 3.5 = 74.5. 74.5 is less than Kentucky’s 75. Kentucky covers spread.
Duke bettors lose. Kentucky bettors win.

In this example, Duke came up 1 point short. They needed to win by 4. This matchup would not produce any tie bets because the spread included a ½ point. Therefore, all bets either win or lose.

More Info

Review our spread betting video and tutorial page here. You’ll also find a host of valuable insights, stats and betting strategies.

2. College Basketball Total Betting

Sportsbook estimates a point total combining each team’s projected final scores. Players bet whether the result will be over or under this number. Sportsbooks include overtime results when “grading” or evaluating wagers.

The total is the larger of two numbers next to each team. The smaller number is the spread. Sportsbooks display the total bet’s juice to the right of the line. One side of the bet may have different juice than the other.

College basketball odds will abbreviate over as “o” and under as “u”. The more expensive side will be provided. For example, 168o-112 means anyone betting over 168 will lay $112 to win $100. -108 is the under juice. Under bettors would lay $108 to win $100.

Assume -110 when no number is given. That means the juice for both the over and under would be -110. Bettors taking either side will lay $110 to win $100.

College Basketball Total Example

UCLA 166½ u-116
Marquette 4

  1. The total line is 166½. The under has -116 juice. -104 is the corresponding over value.
  2. Over bettors believe the final total will be greater than 166.5. They lay $104 to win $100.
  3. Under bettors believe the final total will be less than 166.5. They lay $116 to win $100.

Result: Final total is 163. This number is less than 166½. That means all under bettors win.

Note: No tie bets are possible with a ½ point spread. The final result will either be over or under the sportsbook’s line.

More Info

Watch our total betting video and review our over-under tutorial page here. The reference section explains how to calculate the value for the opposite side of the line when sportsbooks charge more than -110 juice.

3. College Basketball Moneyline Betting

Bet is made on outright winner. A positive number represents the underdog. A negative number represents the favorite. Two -110 numbers indicate no specific favorite. This is a PK or pick’em bet.

Sportsbooks include the juice in each line. A -220 true odds favorite plus juice may cost -230. A +350 true odds underdog minus juice might pay +330.

That means underdog bettors are rewarded with smaller wins compared to true odds. Favorite bettors must risk more than true odds.

Negative numbers indicate how much you risk to win $100.
Positive numbers indicate how much you win for risking $100.

Sportsbooks don’t display moneyline odds with spreads and totals. You’ll find moneylines on a different table or page. Look for “ML” or “Moneylines” on your sportsbook’s odds page.

College Basketball Moneyline Example

Miami -425
Seton Hall +325

  1. The Miami Hurricanes are the favorite. The Seton Hall Pirates are the underdog.
  2. Miami bettors lay $425 to win $100. Seton Hall bettors win $325 for risking $100.

Note: A tie means all bets push. Your wager will be refunded.

More Info

Our Moneyline Betting video explains this bet in detail. The complete moneyline tutorial also includes useful tips and strategies. The reference section contains odds conversion calculations between Moneylines, Fractional and Decimal odds plus break even percentages.

Exotic College Basketball Bets

1. College Basketball Parlay Betting

Combine 2 or more spread, money line or total selections. Parlay wins if all selections win. Parlay loses if any selection loses.

Each tie reduces the total number of selections by one. Therefore, a 6 leg parlay with 1 tie becomes a 5 leg parlay. An 8 selection parlay with 2 ties becomes a 6 selection parlay. Your payout will correspond to the adjusted parlay size.

College Basketball Parlay Directions

  1. Select 2-15 spreads, money lines, totals or combinations of all three.
  2. Include matchups from other sports like football, hockey or baseball.
  3. All selections must be correct to win.
  4. Each tie reduces parlay size by 1 selection. Review your sportsbook’s parlay rules carefully.

More Info created a parlay betting infographic here. It explains how to place a parlay bet in a graphical format.

The complete parlay tutorial provides examples and recommended bets. Also, a thorough discussion about what happens when one or more parlay legs tie. Learn the difference between standard parlay odds and true odds in the reference section. Finally, see why parlays benefit the winning bettor more than separate straight bets.

2. College Basketball Prop Betting

Sportsbooks offers odds on various events related to sports, entertainment or politics. Bettor decides whether an event will occur, in what quantity or both. Prop bets are considered side bets. They are not dependent on the game’s final outcome.

March Madness and the Final Four will offer the most prop betting opportunities. Major conference championships and the NIT may also get prop bets. Monitor your sportbook’s wagering menu carefully.

College Basketball Prop Betting Directions

  1. Visit sportsbook’s college basketball odds page. Select “Props” or “Specials”.
  2. Most props are announced before championship events. Others will be available throughout the season.
  3. Each prop has moneyline odds.
  4. Make selection and bet desired amount.
  5. Sports props win or lose after applicable game, season or playoff has concluded.

Note: Some Props cannot be added to parlays. Bets will be graded “no action” if the prop cannot be resolved. This commonly happens when a player with a game point total prop gets injured before tip off. Or, some other intervening event disrupts the prop bet entirely.

Example March Madness Prop Bets

Will a #4 Seed win the NCAA Men’s Championship?

  • Yes +1000
  • No -2500

Will Gonzaga make the Sweet 16?

  • Yes -600
  • No +350

More Info

Prop bets are easy to play once you understand how moneylines work. Read our expansive prop betting article here. You’ll find multiple examples and tips. Also, a brief explanation about season win totals and why they’re a combination prop and future bet.

These bets are popular with knowledgeable sports handicappers if the numbers are right.

3. College Basketball If Bet Win Only Bet

Player combines multiple bets into simple If-then sequence. Next bet sees action if previous one wins. Up to 7 bets can be combined.

Make multiple bets when you only have money for one. The maximum amount of the next bet is the prior bet’s risk + win. That makes If bets ideal for players with small bankrolls.

The If-Bet is a single action wager. Subsequent bets cannot be more than previous bet’s risk + win.

College Basketball If-Bet Win Only Example

Player combines 2 bets taking favorite UConn Huskies -3 -110 vs Providence Friars and underdog Florida Gators +6 -110 vs Texas A&M Aggies.

  1. Player risks $220 to win $200 on favorite UConn.
  2. If UConn wins then player takes underdog Florida Gators.
  3. Maximum second bet is $420. $220 risk + $200 won from UConn game.
  4. Player risks $330 to win $300 on Florida Gators.
  5. Total potential win $200 + $300 = $500.

More Info

Read more about the if bet win only on our extensive reference page. Our helpful infographic explains how to place this bet. It’s much easier than you think!

Experienced Gamblers: The reference section compares the performance of 2 straight bets versus a 2 part If Bet win only. Hint: Straight bets are better for winning bettors. If bets are bettor for losing bettors.

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