How To Bet On NCAA Basketball

When it comes to college basketball betting, while most of the attention goes to the NCAA Tournament, also known as March Madness, you would do well to get some wagering in throughout the season. Let’s get familiar with the four different types of bets you’ll encounter in your sportsbook in terms of college basketball betting.



A moneyline bet is when you wager on the outcome of a game. The winning side of the bet is determined by who wins the game straight up.

Let’s take an example of a matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels, arguably the biggest hoops rivalry in the United States. You might see UNC as the NCAA Basketball odds favorite at -135, which would make Duke the underdogs, let’s say at +120. The favorite will always be shown with a positive sign and the underdog will be listed with a negative sign. This means that in order to win $100 on UNC, you would have to wager $135 but on the other hand, you would win $120 on Duke on a bet of $100.

You’re not tied to betting $135 on UNC or $100 on Duke; you can bet whatever amount you want. That’s just the equation that gives you an idea of the odds and what you’ll earn win betting on each side.

Point Spreads

Point spread betting is when you are betting on the margin of victory, which adds a little extra intrigue to the wager. For example, North Carolina might go into their matchup with Duke favored by three points, which you would see as listed as -3. Duke, on the other hand, would be shown at +3 as the underdog. This means North Carolina would have to win by more than three points in order to give you the win while Duke can lose by less than three – or win outright – to win your wager for you. If the margin of victory lands on exactly three points, that is called a push, and that means you just get your money back. You’ll often see half-points used, such as UNC -3.5 and Duke +3.5, so that ties can be avoided.


Total betting is when you wager on the combined score in a game. Your goal is to decide whether the two teams will score enough points to go over or under the set total in the sportsbook.

For example, North Carolina and Duke could have a total of 163 points and you have to pick to go over or under that amount. In short, the strategy here is focused on whether you believe the game will be a high-scoring showdown or a defensive affair.


Finally, there’s futures betting, which is when you bet on more long-term propositions. That can include bets like which team will win the ACC or any other conference, which team will win a division or which team will win a championship. You can find NCAA Tournament futures when the field is finalized after the conference tournaments are done, but you’ll also see odds to win the NCAA Championship throughout the year with the top teams in the mix. The odds are usually listed in fractional format, such as 5/1, 25/1, 500/1. That just means that you’ll win $5/$25/$500 for every dollar you bet on the team.