College Basketball Betting Tips


Written by: Natasha

Last Updated:

Read Time: 4 minutes

For sports fans, college basketball season is one of the most exciting times of the year. From November to April, fans are on the edge of their seats watching their favorite teams and players in action. The excitement culminates with the NCAA tournament, which starts in mid-March and ends in early April with the Final Four.

Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan State, and Villanova are just a handful of the college basketball programs that are expected to contend for national championships every year. UCLA has won the most national championship of any school, with 11 to their name.

The NCAA tournament is an extremely popular event for basketball fans and for basketball betting enthusiasts, with the annual quest for the biggest prize in college basketball drawing a lot of eyes and a lot of bets. But throughout the season, there are many games to bet on and many ways to win if betting on college basketball is something you are interested in. There are also many factors and tips to keep in mind that can help you achieve success with college basketball betting.

Ways to Bet On College Basketball

College basketball bettors have no shortage of options to consider. Here is a look at popular college basketball betting options.

Point spread betting: Betting on the spread means that you are taking one side to achieve a result by a certain amount. Spread betting is a good option if you are confident that the favorite will win by a certain amount or if you think the underdog will perform well enough for the margin to be inside a certain amount, whether or not they win.

Here is an example using Duke and Kentucky.

  • Kentucky +2.5 (-110)
  • Duke -2.5 (-110)

For Kentucky to win you the +2.5 bet and cover that spread, they would have to achieve a result that is no worse than losing by two points. For Duke to cover the -2.5 spread, they would have to win by three points or more.

Moneyline betting: A moneyline bet is a bet placed on who wins a particular game.

Here is an example of moneyline odds:

  • Kentucky +125
  • Duke -145

Moneyline betting is a good option if you are confident that the favorite will win but may not cover the spread or if you feel that the underdog will win straight up and not just cover the spread.

Total betting: A total bet is a bet on how many points will be scored. In college basketball, you can bet on how many combined points will be scored in a half or in the full game. Some sportsbooks may even offer bets on how many points one team may score.

Here is an example of a total bet:

  • Over 145.5 (-110)
  • Under 145.5 (-110)

For the over to win, 146 points or more would have to be scored. For the under to win, 145 or fewer points would have to be scored. So, say Duke beats Kentucky 76-70, the over 145.5 would be a winner.

Futures betting: Futures betting involves betting on a future outcome, like which team will win the national championship or a conference championship, or which player will win an award. These odds are regularly updated to reflect recent results.

Prop betting: Some sportsbooks offer proposition bets on particular outcomes that will occur in a particular game. It could be the point margin in which a team will win by, if the game total will be odd or even, which team will reach a certain point target first, and more.

Live betting: Live betting is an exciting way to pad your bankroll while the action is taking place. It is also a great way to potentially hedge your bets if you picked an outcome that doesn’t look like it will occur.

For example, if you bet on the over 145.5 in the Duke-Kentucky game, but with 10 minutes left in the game it looks like it will not achieve that outcome, you can place a live bet on the total that is projected based on the current state of the game.

For more terms, see our Sports Betting Glossary page.

How to Choose A Sportsbook for College Basketball Betting

Reputation: Choosing a sportsbook that has a good reputation should always be at the top of your list. Is your money safe there? Are you going to get paid in a timely manner if you win? Is there a history of complaints or positive reviews?

Juice: Finding the best odds available is most important to many bettors. -110 is the standard you will find for spreads and totals at a lot of sportsbooks, but there are books that offer lower juice to entice players. That extra coin saved or earned from getting lower juice can be worth as much to some players as good bonuses are to others.

Say you put $100 USD on a bet at -110 odds. Your winnings would be $90.91. But if you put that same amount on -105 odds, your winnings would be $95.24. Over the course of a month, that adds up.

Live Betting: College basketball is a sport where live betting can be very lucrative due to how much action occurs and how many games there can be on a given night. Finding a sportsbook that has a reliable, fast live betting platform that has a variety of available games and bet options can make a big difference.

Bonuses/Promotions: Deposit bonuses and other freebies and extras are a big draw for many players. The NCAA tournament is often a great time to find big bonuses and bracket contests that pay out big money. Many sportsbooks offer contests and promotions throughout the season as well.

Higher bonuses often come with high rollover requirements, so if you are looking to cash out sooner rather than later, finding the bonus that gives you the most free money without a high rollover is key.

College Basketball Betting Tips and Strategy

There are many helpful tips that can help college basketball betting be a profitable endeavor. Here are a few of those tips.

Use caution with spreads and totals early in the season. With teams breaking in new players or even coaches, it is best to exercise some restraint early in a new season.

Do your research. Stay up to date on the latest injury news. Is a hot shooting team going up against a team that gives up a lot of three-pointers? Does a team struggle on the road? Shop around for the best odds. It is always good to have a few outs, even if you do have a favorite sportsbook.

Keep an eye on lower seeds in the NCAA tournament. Lower seeds frequently pull upsets or play close games against higher seeds. Be careful about putting too big of a stake behind a higher seed.