Current College Basketball Betting Lines and Odds

College basketball has the distinction of offering the most betting action of any sport in North America. There are over 350 teams across over 30 conferences in NCAA Division 1 alone. You can wager on a marquee matchup between North Carolina and Duke all the way down to a Southern Conference matchup between Chattanooga and Mercer.

College basketball games also take place daily from early November through mid-March. Then, it’s time for one of the largest betting events in the United States each year: the NCAA Tournament, aka “March Madness.”

Every March, people pack retail sportsbooks in states where gambling is legal. With online betting, you can place wagers on both the tournament and regular-season games from the comfort of your home.

This college basketball odds guide will discuss common bets and betting strategies. Utilize this knowledge to place wagers on college basketball games from late fall to the Final Four.

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College Basketball Futures Odds

2023 NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament Odds

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Gonzaga
Houston
Kentucky
North Carolina
Kansas
Arkansas
Duke
Baylor
UCLA
Arizona
Creighton
Texas Tech
Michigan
Texas
Tennessee
Illinois
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Indiana
Alabama
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San Diego State
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Florida
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Chapters

  1. College Basketball Bets
  2. College Basketball Betting Events
  3. How to Bet College Basketball Events
  4. Popular Teams
  5. College Basketball Betting Strategies

College Basketball Bets

Point Spread

In both college and pro basketball, the point spread is the most popular way to bet on games. This is especially important in many college basketball games where the talent level of one team might be far above that of another. The point spread is a tool oddsmakers use to make every game competitive for the bettor.

A common misconception is that oddsmakers set the line at what they think the outcome of the game will be. That’s not the case. Instead, the line is set where the sportsbook believes it will get an equal amount of betting on each team.

Point Spread Example

St. Peter’s +17.5 -110
Kentucky -17.5 -110

This was a game in the 2022 NCAA Tournament featuring St. Peter’s as a heavy underdog against Kentucky. Considering that the Wildcats are one of the most popular teams in the nation and had come off a great 2021-22 season, they were big favorites against a St. Peter’s team that nobody knew about.

Kentucky was the -17.5 point favorite. That means if you bet on Kentucky, they would have to win by more than 17 points for you to win the bet. St. Peters was the +17.5 point underdog. Taking action on St. Peter’s gives you a 17.5-point head start. If the Peacocks win outright or lose by less than 17, a bet on the underdog would be a winner.

The -110 after each team are the odds on the bet. This is considered a standard odds bet in the sports-betting world, where you would wager $110 to win $100. The extra $10 is called the vig or the juice. This money goes to the sportsbook as a service fee for taking your bet, assuring a payout to the winners and providing a place to bet safely and legally.

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Totals Bets (Over-Under)

A sportsbook will set a total for each game. The total is the sum of both teams’ final score including any overtime play. You can bet that the actual result will be over or under the sportsbook’s total line. This is commonly referred to as a totals bet or an over-under bet.

Just like the point spread, the number isn’t the amount of points that the oddsmakers think the game will have. It’s the point total they think will get equal betting on both sides. Understanding how vigorish works helps you see how balancing action on both sides of a wager means a bigger profit for the sportsbooks.

Like the point spread, the goal of the sportsbook is to get 50% of bets on each side of a totals bet. Say that a sportsbook took $100,000 in bets on the over and $110,000 in bets on the under. If the under wins, they use the $110,000 collected from the losing bets to pay the $100,000 in winning bets, and the house profits $10,000 due to the vigorish. If the betting is lopsided on one side or another, then the house puts itself at greater risk of a loss.

Totals Bet Example

UCLA o154 -110
Kansas u154 -110

Here, the game between the UCLA Bruins and Kansas Jayhawks has an over-under line of 154. Betting on the over means that the actual total will be more than 154. An under bet means that you are betting on fewer than 154 points being scored.

A push is in play when sportsbooks set a whole number or integer line. A final score of 84-70 or 78-76, for example, would end right on the 154 mark. All bettors will have their original wagers returned. A push is not good news for the sportsbooks, as they don’t collect any vig on a push.

Moneyline

A moneyline bet is simply betting on a team to win outright. There is no point spread to consider. Instead of giving or getting points, you have to pay for the odds. A heavy favorite will cost more to win the same amount of money. Whereas an underdog gives you a chance to win more money without risking as much.

The good thing about a moneyline bet is that it’s straight forward. You’re picking a team to win–no worries about covering a point spread or a team going over or under a total. These two results are important to bettors, but if you just want to bet on the pure outcome of the game, a moneyline bet is for you.

Moneyline Examples

Due to the disparity of competition in college basketball, here are two moneyline examples from the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina +200
Duke -170

St. Peter’s +1400
Kentucky -4000

Based on the odds, you can see how the North Carolina vs. Duke game was expected to be much closer than St. Peter’s vs. Kentucky. In each case, the underdog won outright. However bettors who backed the Peacocks got a much better payout.

When you see the “minus” sign in front of an odds number, they are the favorite and it tells you how much you have to bet to win $100. A “plus” sign indicates the underdog and the number that follows is what you can win on a $100 bet. In the North Carolina vs. Duke game, you would put $170 down on Duke to win $100, while a $100 bet on North Carolina would pay $200.

Now let’s look at the latter game. Kentucky’s -4000 moneyline means they were heavily favored to win. You needed to drop $4,000 on the Wildcats in order to win $100. Big upsets happen more often than you think. A moneyline bet on the Peacocks at +1400 means bettors who risked $100 on a St. Peter’s win walked away with $1,400 in winnings.

Futures

A futures bet is a long-term bet on a result to be determined at a later date.

Popular futures bets include the winner of the NCAA Tournament Final Four (National Champion), winners of conference tournaments, conference regular-season titles, and individual awards like Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament.

You can typically place futures bets at any point from the offseason up until the winner of a bet is decided.

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Futures Example

At the start of the offseason, not much is known about how new recruits will play for their teams. So, some of the futures predictions are based on the past. As the season progresses, teams’ results and records are taken into account and more accurate odds are provided.

But there is plenty of value in preseason futures if you can predict winning teams.

Here are the futures odds to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament going into the 2021-22 season:

Example NCAA Tournament Futures Odds
Team Odds
Gonzaga +600
Michigan +1200
UCLA +1200
Villanova +1200
Duke +1400
Kansas +1400

The top four

Three of the four teams from the 2021 Final Four are here. 2021 champion Baylor had odds of +2000. North Carolina, the eventual runner-up in 2022, was at +3000.

It turns out that the oddsmakers were quite accurate in their projections from this year. Villanova, Duke, and Kansas all made the Final Four, with Kansas eventually winning the championship. A preseason bet on the Jayhawks would’ve paid out at 14-1 odds. That’s a $1400 payout for betting just $100.

College Basketball Betting Events

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March is one of the best months of the sports calendar for college basketball fans. Unlike college football, every Division 1 team technically has a chance to win the NCAA Tournament.

Conference Tournaments

The excitement begins with conference tournaments. Some conferences allow all teams to play. Others only allow teams that meet a certain standing. In both cases, higher-seeded teams rest through early rounds before their first matchup against a much lower seed.

The winner of each conference tournament earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. There is plenty at stake, especially for smaller conferences that will just get one team into the Tournament.

NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Tournament is referred to as March Madness because of its propensity for upsets and thrilling finishes. It’s also a gambler’s paradise. The first two days of the single-elimination tournament feature 16 high-stakes games each day.

After the first two rounds, the 16 teams remaining play in the “Sweet 16” round. The winners advance to the regional finals, commonly called the “Elite Eight.”

Final Four

The winners of the four regional finals advance to an event called the Final Four, which is played at a site determined years in advance. The remaining four teams meet in the national semifinals that are held on a Saturday night in the host city. Then, the winners of those two games meet on a Monday night to determine the national champion.

Since 1997, the national semifinals and championship game have been contested at indoor football stadiums that can hold around 70,000 fans. The 2022 Final Four, for example, was held at the Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

College Basketball Betting Events

Futures Bet

Futures bets are a great way to get in on the action for the major events in college basketball, especially for conference tournaments. With over 30 conferences to choose from, you can have something to root for just about every day in the month of March.

When to Bet

When it comes to futures, timing is everything. If you choose to bet in the preseason, you won’t have as much information at your disposal. But you could stand to win more money if you can pick national champions in the preseason versus just before the tournament starts.

For example, we mentioned that Kansas’ odds to win the national title in 2022 were +1400 to start the season. Prior to the tournament, however, that number was +1100.

In the year prior, the gap was even more pronounced. Baylor, who won the 2021 championship, had preseason odds of +10000. Going into that year’s tournament, the Bears’ odds shrunk way down to +250.

The 2018-19 season was more like 2021-22, as Virginia went from +1350 before the season to +800 before the 2019 tournament began.

There are always exceptions, but in most cases, picking the NCAA basketball champion before the season starts will pay more than doing so prior to the tournament.

Single-Game Alternatives

Most games throughout the regular season and tournament will allow you to bet on the result of a specific half. Point spread, totals, and moneyline bets will be available for both the first and second half of a game. Remember that second-half betting lines will open up at halftime of each game.

Prop bets are available for bigger games. These are bets that are made independent of the result of the game. You can bet on how many points a certain player will score, whether a player will outscore another player on the opposing team, how many 3-pointers a team will make, and much more.

Note about College Sports Betting

Many states, like New York, New Jersey, and Illinois, currently prohibit betting on games with in-state schools. For example, Illinois residents cannot bet on Illinois basketball games. Similarly, New York residents can’t bet on Syracuse or Seton Hall. Some states also expressly forbid college prop bets. See our sportsbook review and state betting pages for more information.

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Popular College Basketball Teams

Duke Blue Devils

The Duke Blue Devils, who play in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in Durham, North Carolina, made four Final Fours from 1960-78, but their real success started once Mike Krzyzewski took over as head coach in 1980. Known as “Coach K,” Krzyzewski led Duke to five national championships, 13 Final Four appearances, and 16 ACC tournament titles.

Christian Laettner and Grant Hill led the team to its first two championships in 1991 and ‘92. Some of the biggest names in college basketball over the last 30 years have suited up for the Blue Devils, including Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, J.J. Reddick, Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Zion Williamson.

After falling in the 2022 Final Four, Krzyzewski retired with 1,202 wins (most all-time by a college basketball coach). Former player Jon Scheyer took over as new head coach.

North Carolina Tarheels

The University of North Carolina is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, just 10 miles away from Duke’s campus in Durham. The two are fierce rivals, but UNC has a history of great success that dates back further than that of Duke.

North Carolina has played in the most Final Fours in NCAA men’s basketball history with 21. They also have six national titles to their credit. Roy Williams was the head coach for the team’s three most-recent titles (2005, ‘09, ‘17), and Dean Smith was in charge for the 1982 and ‘93 championships. In total, Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961-97. The team’s home arena is named after him. Williams retired after the 2021 season. Hubert Davis then led UNC to the 2022 national championship game in his first season as head coach.

The most famous North Carolina Tar Heel and perhaps most famous basketball player ever was Michael Jordan. He was a part of the 1982 championship team, as was future basketball Hall of Famer James Worthy. Other famous former Tar Heels include Vince Carter, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Kenny Smith, Eric Montross, Antawn Jamison, and Tyler Hansbrough.

Kansas Jayhawks

The Kansas Jayhawks had a clean sweep in 2022. The team won the Big 12 regular-season title, the Big 12 conference tournament, and the NCAA tournament, coming back from 15 points down at halftime to beat North Carolina for its fourth national championship.

Kansas’ first title and first three Final Four appearances were under head coach Phog Allen, who is the namesake of the team’s arena in Lawrence, Kansas. In 1988, Larry Brown led the team to a title, and he is the only coach to win a championship in the NCAA and NBA. Bill Self has been head coach since 2003 and is the only coach at Kansas to win more than one title (2008 and ‘22).

Several basketball greats suited up for Kansas over the years, including Wilt Chamberlain. The star of the 1988 team was Danny Manning, and NBA great Paul Pierce also played for the Jayhawks, as did current NBA stars Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga, who plays in the West Coast Conference out of Spokane, Washington, burst onto the basketball scene in 1999. Despite not having won a national championship, the Bulldogs are college hoops’ most successful team not to play in a power conference.

The Bulldogs reached the championship game of the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and ‘21, losing both times. In 2021, they were trying to become the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to finish an entire season undefeated, but they fell one game short of that goal.

Head coach Mark Few took over after the Bulldogs reached the Elite Eight round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament. Few has amassed a record of 630-125 from ‘99 to 2022. The Zags have won 18 WCC tournament titles under Few and have reached the Sweet 16 on 11 occasions from 2000-22.

While Gonzaga hasn’t had any legendary NBA players, they have had plenty of NCAA All-Americans, including Dan Dickau, Adam Morrison, Kelly Olynyk, Jalen Suggs, and Drew Timme.

Villanova Wildcats

One of the most successful basketball conferences of the last 40 years has been the Big East. Since 1985, the league has won nine championships. Villanova is tied with Connecticut with three of those championships. The Wildcats have won the two most recent titles for the league.

In 1985, Wildcats won the national championship under head coach Rollie Massimino, becoming the lowest seed (#8) to win the NCAA Tournament. Jay Wright became head coach in 2001 and led the team to four of its seven Final Fours and won national titles in 2016 and ‘18. After reaching the Final Four in 2022 and losing to eventual champion Kansas, Wright retired and Kyle Neptune took over as head coach.

Ed Pickney was the star of the 1985 title team. However, the most successful player in Villanova history was Kerry Kittles, who has scored more points than any other Wildcat. Former Wildcats in the NBA include Kyle Lowry, Josh Hart, and Mikal Bridges.

College Basketball Betting Strategies

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Focus on the Smaller Conferences

As we mentioned, there are more than 350 teams and 32 conferences in Division 1 college basketball. The majority of the bets being placed on college hoops will surround the popular teams and conferences–Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, and the Big East.

Since there will be less action on smaller conferences like the Southern Conference, Patriot League, Horizon League, and dozens of others, your best bet is to focus on a couple of these conferences. First, study and get to know the teams. By doing so, you will likely know more about them than the people setting the odds. This gives you a big advantage.

One popular small conference handicapping method is to set your known odds. Carefully handicap a game and determine a point spread, total, or moneyline. Then compare your numbers to a sportsbook’s odds. If there’s a big disparity in your favor, bet on those games. Your analysis just might be better than the sportsbook.

Key Statistics: Offensive/Defensive Efficiency and Turnover Rate

Because college basketball teams may play opponents that are much higher or lower in skill level–especially early on in the season–you’re better off not focusing on records or points per game as much as offensive and defensive efficiency statistics.

These statistics give you points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. The pace of a particular game or opponent isn’t part of the equation. Look for these numbers and other analytical insights at basketball statistic sites. For example, KenPom.com will further adjust them to account for the pace and strength of each team’s opponents. This creates a more accurate picture of a team’s ability beyond their raw stats. Use this data to make informed bets.

Shooting is the most important factor in how a team wins a basketball game according to the KenPom model. Turnovers are second. When combing through stats prior to betting on a game, check each team’s turnover rate. It can be a big factor in how the team performs.

Recent Trends More Important Than Overall Record

Remember that college basketball is generally played by people from 18-22 years of age. Immaturity and inexperience means teams will be more susceptible to both good and bad stretches during the course of a season. Moreover, player emotions can greatly impact a team’s performance.

Comparing a team’s recent form to their full-season statistics helps identify potential betting opportunities. Visit BartTorvik.com, a free college basketball analytics site. Focus on the five-game moving average. It’s a good snapshot of a team’s recent performance.

A team that’s recently outperforming versus its overall record might be a good betting opportunity. Equally, identifying underperforming teams helps you spot weak favorites.
Use the results of your analysis to make informed wagers.