How to Bet on College Basketball

Line Sniper
8 min readMar 22, 2021


college basketball betting

There are fully 32 Division I conferences in the NCAA and more than 350 universities that play men’s basketball. It’s almost impossible to find a day during the season when you can’t bet on college basketball.

And of course, college basketball ends with the single biggest event on the sports betting calendar — the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The tournament is better known as March Madness, for the Cinderella stories and buzzer-beaters, and the 50 million Americans who bet an estimated $8.5 billion on the 67 games.

How to Bet on College Basketball

As with betting on professional basketball, and most other American team sports, college basketball betting is broken into single-game bets, futures bets, and player and team propositions. And how to place sports wagers on college basketball works like these other sports.

Single-game wagers include money line bets, point spread bets, and totals bets and all of these types of bets can be combined into parlays and teasers. In-play wagering is also increasingly popular for college basketball fans.

The NCAA, as an organization, is officially against betting on its games and athletes, and some universities have implemented policies that prevent their own student-athletes from participating in college sports wagering. But college football and basketball betting enjoy widespread legality in the United States.

Online Sportsbooks for NCAA Betting

As with other sports, one of the best ways to place college basketball wagers is through an online sports betting site [Link to Best Online Betting Sites]. Almost all online sportsbooks offer college basketball wagering, but some sites clearly stand out above the rest.

1. William Hill — Featuring a $500 free bet, up to a $500 deposit match, a full slate of college basketball wagering, and in-play betting. William Hill is based in the UK, but when it comes to wagering on this most American of sports, you wouldn’t know it.

2. BetMGM — The long-time betting experts at MGM offer deposit matches of up to $500 and free weekly $10 bets. MGM’s college basketball betting features a full schedule of games, proposition wagers, and in-play betting.

3. PointsBet — A newer company from Australia, PointsBet makes betting on college basketball a user-friendly experience. And different from any other online sportsbook, they have PointsBetting — which increases a player’s winnings with bigger margins of victory.

4. DraftKings — The daily fantasy sports pioneer awards $25 upon registration and up to $1,000 in deposit bonuses. And no matter what type of college basketball wager you’d like to place, DraftKings has it.

5. 888sport — They built their experience and reputation in Europe, but when it comes to wagering on college basketball, 888sport offers a full and friendly experience. Plus you get up to $500 in free bets.

6. FanDuel — With offers for up to $1,000 in risk-free bets, FanDuel also excels with in-play wagering, which includes a huge variety of college basketball games.

7. FOX Bet — Betting boosts and custom bets highlight the best aspects of FOX Bet’s college basketball offerings. They also have a fast and responsive app that makes for great in-play wagering.

Is College Basketball Betting Legal in the U.S?

As sports betting becomes legal in more states across the country, betting on college basketball is also becoming legal. Some states have placed restrictions on betting on games involving local teams, and some others have made it illegal to bet on propositions involving individual college athletes. But by and large, if betting is legal in a state, it is also legal to bet on college basketball.

But all states do have different laws, and it’s important to research the local laws before placing any sports wagers, including on college basketball. Not all states have legal wagering, and not all states that do allow sports betting have passed the same laws.

The following states have legal sports betting [Link to Where is Sports Betting Legal]:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Virginia

States With Sports Betting Laws But Not Yet Taking Bets

  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington

March Madness Betting & Odds

When people in college basketball talk about March Madness they are specifically referring to the 68-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. But with 32 automatic bids to the tournament, the madness actually begins in the previous two weeks, as conferences around the country have their own tournaments.

All of the games, from the small tournaments to the main tournament, are great for basketball betting. The excitement is unmatched, and so is the volume. So many games, and taking place all day long.

The first big weekend of the tournament, usually set for the third weekend in March, is one of the biggest weekends of sports betting anywhere. Beginning with 16 games each on Thursday and Friday, and another 16 over Saturday and Sunday, it’s one of the busiest times for the hotels and sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

The following Thursday through Sunday the tournament goes from the Sweet 16 to the Final Four, providing some of the best basketball you’ll see all season. The stakes are huge for the teams, and the betting dollars match the intensity. This weekend has only 12 games, vs. the 48 games from the opening weekend. But while the first weekend has its share of blowouts, the dozen games that decide the Final Four are the best of the best.

It all culminates with the three games to decide the national champion during Final Four weekend, scheduled for the first weekend in April. Two semifinal games on Saturday, and the final game on Monday night.

Each of the 67 games can be bet individually. They can be parlayed. You can place bets on a specific team to win it all before the tournament ever starts. Filling out a bracket for a little money at the end has become a national pastime. Essentially, if you can conceive a way to wager on March Madness, there will be someone on the other end who will take that wager.

College Basketball Odds & Spreads

When betting on college basketball it is paramount to understand the sports betting odds [Line to Betting Odds page] and point spreads you’ll be playing, and to make sure the odds and spreads you’re playing are the best available.

Moneyline bets, which are just bets on who wins and who loses, pay off odds. Bigger payouts for the underdog, and smaller profits for betting the favorite. While point spread bets pay off the same on both sides of the bet, the favorites must win by a set amount of points.

Types of NCAA Basketball Bets

There are multiple types of college basketball bets offered by online and retail sportsbooks. Depending on what strategy you want to take when betting on sports, and which areas you feel most comfortable with, there is a best bet for you.

As betting has become more sophisticated there are more ways to bet and more things to know, but don’t let that intimidate you. It looks more complicated than it actually is. When you understand where the odds come from, and which teams make the best plays, value bets can be found.

NCAA Point Spreads

Point spread betting [Link to Point Spread page] is the most common bet you’ll play, and it has the most straightforward payout. Two teams are rarely even, so a bookmaker will insert a point spread to even things out. Duke is better than East Carolina, so when these two teams play Duke will be favored by 12.5 points (as an example.)

If Duke wins by 13 points or more, a bet on the Blue Devils wins. But if Duke wins by 12 points or fewer, a bet on East Carolina wins. And since there was a point spread, both sides pay out the amount of the original wager — minus the bookmaker’s juice.

College Basketball Moneylines

A moneyline [Link to Moneyline/Reading Lines page] bet is simply a way to balance out the unevenness of a matchup without using a point spread. So instead of Duke laying 12.5 points, a bet on Duke pays out less money. All favorites payout negative odds, expressed as -150, as an example. That means that it takes a $150 bet to win $100.

The underdog in a moneyline bet pays positive odds, expressed as +150. In that scenario, a bet of $100 will result in $150 of profit.

Just as with a point spread bet, the bookmaker does take juice on a moneyline bet. The negative number for the favorite is always higher than the positive number on the underdog, resulting in the book making a profit.

NCAA Prop Bets

Not all bets on a single college basketball game have to involve the outcome of the game. With proposition bets, instead of betting on the winner of the game, you place money on an event that happens inside the game. These can include which teams make the most three-point shots if any players foul out, the over/under on rebounds, and almost any individual or team accomplishment you can think of.

NCAA prop bets do come with a caveat. Some U.S. states do not allow prop betting on individuals that are amateur athletes. So while you may be able to bet on team prop bets (which team hits the most free throws) you may not be able to bet on individual props (over/under on points scored by the starting point guard).

Bracket Bets

As mentioned when we talked about March Madness, bracket bets are an exceedingly popular way to wager on the NCAA Tournament. Chances are if you work in an office, you’ve entered a bracket. They are essentially a massive 68-team parlay that takes place over multiple weeks, ending with a single winner.

Warren Buffett once offered $1 billion to anyone that filled out a perfect bracket. With the odds of picking a perfect bracket at 1 in 9.2 quintillion, suffice it to say that Buffett did not give away any money.

But perfection aside, billions of dollars are wagered and won on brackets around the world. Some brackets just tabulate wins, and whoever is left standing at the end gets the pot. Other brackets award more points if you correctly pick a lower seed that wins its game. For example, if you correctly pick a 12th seed that beats a 5th seed, you get seven points.

No matter how your bracket works, making quality first-round picks is key. If a Final Four pick is knocked out on the first Thursday of the tournament, all the games they might have played become automatic losses.

NCAA Tournament bracket bets are fun and engaging for bettors of all skill levels, and even for people who have never bet on basketball before. As long as college basketball decides its champion by tournament, bracket betting will be part of college basketball.

Source of the content —



Line Sniper

For all of our analysis, betting tools and courses, and everything you need to be better at sports betting, check out