NCAA Basketball Odds Explanation: Understanding College Basketball Betting Lines
We’ve entered a new era in college basketball where freshman dominate and the one-and-done talents quickly move up to the NBA. Even so, the sport is as popular as it has ever been, which has generated a lot of betting interest. If you’ve never bet on the college hoops, here’s your basic guide to understanding NCAA Basketball odds, which work much the same as NBA odds. (For explanations on how NFL odds work, as well as odds for other sports, explore the links at the bottom of this page.)
In college basketball there are a lot of teams, and some are much stronger than others. That’s why the point spread was invented as it allows bettors to bet on a game even though the two teams might not be evenly matched. The difference is the bettors has to predict whether or not a team will win by the margin listed on the NCAA Basketball odds boards.
For example, let’s say you see Duke listed at -8.5 points on the NCAA Basketball odds board. With the minus sign in front, that means they have to win by nine points or more to cover the spread and for you to win your bet on Duke. If they win by eight or less, or their opponent wins, then Duke does not cover the spread.
While spreads focus on the margin of victory, moneylines only focus on the outright result. In this case, it doesn’t matter what the margin of victory is. All you care about is who wins the game.
For example, Duke might be a -300 favorite over North Carolina State. What that means is if you bet $300 on Duke and they win, you collect $100. On the other side of it, North Carolina State might be something like +250. With the plus sign in front of their betting odds, that means that if you bet $100, you would win $250.
When it comes totals, this is just the combined final score between the two teams. When you look at the lines, the NCAA Basketball odds makers set an over-under which asks whether the final score will be 'over' or above that number, or 'under' and below.
For the Duke-N.C. State game, you might see a line of 139.5. So if the final score is something like 70-50, then the 120 combined points is less than the 139.5, which means the game went under. If the combined score is 71-70 or 85-82, then the game has gone over the number and everyone who bet on the over wins their bet.
Futures bets are wagers that focus on events that will happen in the long term future. So while the above three bets focus on nightly action where the bets will be resolved by the end of the evening, futures focus on results that will take some time to decide. For example, in the preseason, you might want to bet on who will win March Madness or which team will win a certain conference.
In these cases, you’ll likely see NCAA Basketball odds that entice you with a big payout. For example, Duke might be 15/1 to win the NCAA Tournament before it starts. However, remember that you’re picking just one team in a big field, so the risk is high. However, if you’re right, you can early a big payout.
In this case, 15/1 means that for every dollar you bet, you win $15. That can prove to be quite profitable if you make the right selections with your NCAA Basketball picks.