NCAA Basketball Betting Tips – NCAA Basketball Picks and Parlays

Basketball is one of the most popular and exciting sports in the world. Second only to the Super Bowl, opening weekend of the NCAA’s March Madness tournament is one of the biggest sports betting events in the US. March Madness is terrific, but college basketball actually starts in November and provides many opportunities to find some betting value while the sportsbooks and everyone else are focused on football. Football is only one day a week, but you can bet on college basketball pretty much every day for five months. What a deal!

Betting on NCAA basketball can be a little intimidating for first-timers. Between all of the sportsbook bonuses, there are many ways to get your NCAA basketball betting journey off to a good start. This NCAA basketball betting tips guide will help you overcome any pregame jitters and walk you through placing your bets on NCAA basketball.

NCAA Basketball Betting Odds Explained

Before we get into the specifics of wagering, you must first understand the odds. Every bet comes with certain odds that determine what the payout will be if you win the bet. Odds will be a number with a plus (+) designating the underdog or minus (-) sign ahead of it that designates the favorite. So when you see odds of +150, that’s the underdog. If you see odds of -200, that’s the favorite.

All betting odds are based on a $100 bet. For example, if Marquette (-200) and Murray State (+165) are playing a hypothetical game, Marquette is the favorite. So if you were to bet $100 on Marquette to win, your return would be $150. This includes your original $100 bet plus $50 of winnings. If you were to bet on Murray State, the underdog, your returns would be $265: your $100 bet plus $165 in winnings.

But don’t worry, you’ll never need your calculator. All the best online sports betting sites will automatically do the math for you, and any teller at a retail sportsbook will tell you your payout before accepting the bet.

Types of NCAA Basketball Bets

NCAA Basketball Moneyline Bets

This is the most straightforward bet that you can place on a college basketball game. An NCAA moneyline bet is simply a bet on a team to win the game. However, different teams will have different odds based on the matchups. The bigger the underdog, the more you would collect if they win, but if a team is a huge favorite, you will only get a fraction of your wager back in profit.

For example, if you believe that Abilene Christian (+3600) can beat Kentucky (-6400), then you can make a very large profit on a smaller bet. On a small $20 bet, your returns will be $740. However, if you bet the same $20 on Kentucky you will only get $20.31 back for a measly 31 cents profit.

Moneyline bets are best used for underdogs that you believe can win, or games that are fairly close in odds. For example if you believe Wofford (-150) can beat Seton Hall (+135), it may be worth placing that same $20 bet. You would be betting on the more likely outcome, and although you won’t double your money, you still get a significant return of $33.

NCAA Basketball Point Spread Bets

Wagering on the point spread is the most popular form of betting on basketball. It is essentially a form of handicap betting. You are betting on a team to win by a certain number of points determined by the sportsbook in order to make the game even.

Using the screenshot above, Villanova is a 5.5-point favorite in their match-up with St. Mary’s. To win your bet on Villanova, the Wildcats would have to win by 6 or more. The half-point is included so there are no ties. Villanova will either win by 6 or more or they won’t. If the spread was 5, the bet would be a push if Villanova ended up winning by exactly 5. If you bet on St. Mary’s +5.5, the Gaels would have to outright win, or lose by less than 6.

Typical odds on spread bets are between -105 and -120, but the standard is -110. This is referred to as “the juice” on the lines resulting in you having to wager $105-$120 to earn $100 profit. Some sites offer less juice on their spread bets, and some offer more friendly lines (point spreads) so it is usually a good idea to shop around.

NCAA Basketball Totals (Over/Under) Bets

A total wager is a bet placed on the combined score of both teams. Sportsbooks will offer a total number and you are betting on the total score to either be over that number, or under that number.

For example, in the above screenshot, the game between Belmont and Temple has an O/U line of 155.5. If the final score is 80-75, resulting in a total score of 155 between the two teams, the under bet would win. But if the score is 81-75, resulting in 156 points total, the over bet would win. Similar to spread betting, there are typical odds of -105 through -120, resulting in the sportsbook taking “juice.” Also, it is recommended to shop around as different mobile sportsbooks will offer more friendly O/U lines and sometimes less juice on the bets.

NCAA Basketball March Madness Futures Betting

Future bets are a form of prop bet where you are wagering on who will win the championship. For NCAA basketball, both conference and national championship odds are usually available for most teams. Depending on who the favorites to win are, you will get different odds.

For example, if you believe that Duke is stacked this year and has a good shot to win the NCAA championship, you can bet on that outcome at any time before the NCAA Tournament. Right now on FanDuel, Duke has +1300 odds to win the championship. This would mean that on a $100 bet, you would receive a $1400 total payout ($100 bet back + $1300 in winnings). If you are a fan of Gonzaga winning it all, your $100 bet will earn you a $950 payout with Gonzaga’s odds of +850.

Be sure to shop around as different sites and sportsbooks will have varying odds on your favorite teams. As the season progresses, the odds will change as teams win and lose. With some of the teams offering a payout of over 5000/1 to win it all, futures bets can be a fun way to place bets on a few longshots and really root for the underdog.

March Madness Tips – Rollover Betting

In some cases, rollover strategy might be a better March Madness betting strategy than betting on March Madness futures odds. This is especially true as we inch closer to the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

What is rollover betting strategy, you ask? We break it down here.

NCAA Basketball Half Betting

If you don’t want to wait for the full game to be played, or think a team is a better 2nd half team and want to bet on one half of the game, there is the option on most sites and sportsbooks to break an NCAA game into two. All of the previous betting options are available to bet on including half moneyline, point spread and totals. When betting on the second half of a game, it’s like resetting all stats from the first half.

For example, if you bet on Temple first half moneyline, and they are winning 36-25 at the half, you would win the bet. However, if you bet on Temple second half moneyline, and Temple wins the game 70-65, you would lose the second half moneyline because Temple scored 34, and Belmont scored 40 in the second half.

NCAA Basketball Prop Betting

This is where sports betting gets really fun. Prop betting is anything outside of the normal betting markets. Each site or sportsbook will offer different “prop” bets.

A few examples of popular NCAA Tournament prop bets are:

There are no limits to what different prop bets will be offered. Online sportsbooks will offer more prop betting options, so be sure to shop around to find the right prop bet for you. Many states do not allow prop betting on college basketball, so be sure to check to see if the sportsbooks in your state offer college props.

NCAA Parlay Betting

Parlays are bets that combine two or more point spread, total, or moneyline bets onto one betslip. To win the parlay, all bets on the parlay bet must win. With the higher risk, comes higher rewards.

For example, most sportsbooks offer odds of +260 on two-team parlays. This means that if you bet $55 on Belmont spread at -110 and $55 North Carolina spread at -110 separately your total profit on the two bets would $100 for a total return of $210. If you were to place a $110 bet on the two same games in a parlay, this would increase the odds to +260, netting a $286 profit. You would earn a higher payout on the same total bet, but only if both win. You would get no return if only one or both lose.

The more games you add to a parlay, the more the odds increase. With the bigger odds increase comes more risk that something could go wrong.

Tips for First-Time NCAA Basketball Bettors

About the Author

Ryan Gutzler (rgutzler)

Ryan is a former two sport collegiate athlete who now relives the glory days through men’s leagues, coaching and of course, writing about sports. He is also a poker player, sports bettor and avid Sixers, Phillies, Flyers and Duke homer.