How to Bet on College Basketball?

How to Bet on College Basketball?

College basketball is a favorite among sports fans. Whether you like college sports or if you want to follow the future NBA stars, college hoops are a must-watch. With hundreds of teams and games to follow every season, it also means lots of betting opportunities.


If you want to get into college basketball betting but don’t know how to get started, then you’ve come to the right place. We will gladly lend you a helping hand to understand the ins and outs of how to bet on college basketball, how college basketball betting lines work, the different markets, and everything else you need.


Understanding College Basketball


The first-ever college basketball teams were organized between 1893 and 1895. By the early 1900s, college basketball had already become popular across the US. In 1939, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) organized its first national championship. Initially, the NCAA tournament featured a mere eight teams, but the field quickly expanded over the next decades. In 1985, the Division I playoffs expanded to the current 64-team format. Then, in 2011, the tournament added a preliminary round consisting of eight teams to determine the last four spots, effectively expanding the number of participants to 68. The NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament is also known as March Madness.


College basketball has three divisions, although most operators only take bets on Division I games. There are 32 Division I conferences, and the champions automatically qualify for March Madness. The remaining 36 spots are determined by a selection committee, which ranks the teams according to a number of criteria. Before the start of the conference play, teams organize smaller out-of-conference tournaments, which count towards their overall record but have no influence in their respective conference standings. 


College Basketball Betting Explained


You can bet on all Division I college basketball games, right from the start of the season. Sportsbooks offer college basketball betting lines on all games, including early season matches. Of course there is also March Madness, which naturally draws the most attention from bettors.


Bookmakers offer a variety of college basketball betting markets as well. Wagering on different markets is always a good strategy for punters, allowing them to find better college basketball betting lines.

  • Moneyline: the most common and also the simplest betting market. A moneyline bet means wagering on the outcome of a game – which team will win.
  • Over/Under: usually the second most popular betting market, the over/under bet means wagering on whether the combined score from both teams will go over or under the sportsbook’s line.
  • Future Bets: wagering on a future event – the March Madness champion, the conference champions, which teams will make it to the Final Four, among others.
  • Point Spreads: at first glance, point spread bets look similar to moneyline bets. However, in a point spread, each team carries a number, which is negative for the favorite and positive for the underdog. To cover the spread, the favorite must win the game by a larger margin than the one indicated by this number. The underdog will cover the spread if it loses by a margin smaller than that number, or if it wins the game by any margin.
  • Prop bets: also known as proposition bets. Not necessarily related to the outcome of a match. Some prop bet examples include the top scoring player in a game, which player will get the most rebounds, the number of 3-pointers, and so on.
  • Parlay bet: a parlay is a high-risk, high-reward bet that combines multiple individual wagers into a single one. The odds are multiplied for a better payout, but you also need each individual bet to win. If one bet loses, then the entire parlay loses as well.


College Basketball Betting Tips


  • Explore all betting markets available. Even if you don’t like the moneyline odds, you can always find favorable college basketball betting lines with high-paying odds in different markets. Keep your options as open and varied as possible, which will naturally improve your chances of bigger payouts.
  • Compare the odds between different sportsbooks. For the most part, operators will have very close odds and lines. But that’s not always the case. Some bookmakers may disagree on the favorite or the spread for a game, and that opens many other possibilities for bettors.
  • There are many college basketball point systems available online. KenPom and Sagarin are two of the most famous. These point systems are frequently used by bettors, especially for point spread bets. You can also look for betting tips online.


College Basketball Betting Examples


  • Here is an example using the KenPom system for a college basketball spread bet: Kentucky (+29.77 AdjEM) is the early season favorite, followed by Texas (+28.4). If the Wildcats and Longhorns played in the 2023 March Madness, then Kentucky would be a 1.37 point favorite for the match.
  • The opening odds for the national championship have Gonzaga as the early favorite, followed by North Carolina and Houston. The Bulldogs are listed at +900, paying $900 for every $100 bet. Both the Tar Heels and Cougars are listed at +1000, paying $1,000 for every $100 bet.
  • North Carolina is also the early favorite to win the ACC title. The Tar Heels are listed at +130 for the opening odds, which means that a $100 bet will pay $130 if North Carolina wins the ACC title at the end of the regular season.


Pros vs Cons of College Basketball Betting



  • With 32 different conferences and 352 teams in total, college basketball has a lot of games and betting markets to wager on.
  • March Madness is one of the best times of the year for sports betting, and bookmakers understand that. During the NCAA Division I playoffs, operators increase the variety of bets available, offering additional props and many other wagers that aren’t usually up during the regular season games.


  • Since there are a lot of games and teams, some smaller games have a limited number of betting markets available. Prop bets in particular are usually only available for the bigger games.
  • Bettors need to keep up with over 300 teams during the regular season, making it a herculean task. Even though that number gets trimmed down significantly during March Madness, that’s still a lot of work to go through.




College basketball betting is one of the best options available in college sports. The NCAA Division I tournament is one of the top college sports events of the year. March Madness draws a lot of attention from bookmakers too, which means more betting markets available. There are 32 conferences and 352 teams in Division I, and that guarantees hundreds of games to wager on over the course of the season. Keeping up with all the action is difficult, but there are tools like points systems and betting tips to help you out. Of course, you can always bet on NBA, too. Just check out our How To Bet on NBA? section for great extra info.

FAQs: How To Bet on College Basketball?

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