If the phrase “March Madness” gets you salivating with excitement, you’re in the right spot. College basketball season comes to the rescue for sports fans feeling lost towards the end of the NFL regular season. There really is nothing like the excitement of watching collegiate athletes compete on the hard court.
For those of you that are sports bettors or are interested in getting into the action, college basketball is the best. There are a ton of games, lots of excitement, and not to mention March Madness. Whether you’re brand new to the party or you’re a seasoned better, we’ve got something for you here. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to get started with college basketball betting or to take your current betting strategies to the next level.
Best College Basketball Betting Sites
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Betting on college basketball has gotten easier than ever thanks to the technologies of online sportsbooks. You no longer have to leave your house or your favorite chair to get your bets in. Not happy with the line? It only takes a few seconds to check the line at another sportsbook for the exact same bet. Don’t want to wait in line to get a bet in during the crazy rush of March Madness at the brick and mortar sportsbook? There are no lines online. The convenience is incredible.
That being said, you still need to pick a sports betting home to take your action. If you’ve ventured onto Google, you’ve already seen that there are an overwhelming number of options to choose from. It can seem like an impossible task to find a worthy site that you can trust with your bets and your money.
Insert us, riding in on a white horse dressed as a knight. We’re here to save the day with our list of the best college basketball betting sites available on the web. Did these sites pay us to be on this list? Nope. Can they pay for a better review or higher ranking? Nope. The only way that we’ll recommend a sportsbook on this list is if they offer the best and most-trusted college basketball betting experience imaginable
Our Expert Picks
At The Sports Geek, we’re all about trying to help you make money betting on sports. To help you do that with college basketball, we’ve compiled a crack team of betting experts with a ton of experience betting college hoops. Our experts release daily picks during the season in real-time to help you find the smart bets.
Not only do our experts give you their picks, but they’ll break down why they chose that bet and how they arrived at their conclusion. This will not only give you an expert insider tip, but it will give you a view into the brain and thinking process of professional bettors. You’ll be able to see what they look at, why they look at it, and how they interpret it. This will, in turn, help you to become a stronger bettor and able to make your own expert college basketball picks.
College Basketball Betting Strategy
Most of you probably found your way to this page to try and become better college basketball bettors. To help you on your quest, we’ve picked the brains of our experts and compiled a detailed write up of the most important college basketball tips and strategies, that you need to be a successful sports bettor.
Some of these tips will seem basic and are aimed at those new to the game. On the other hand, some of the tips will be complex and be aimed at those already with experience in college hoops betting. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, we’ve got tips and strategies that can help you take your college basketball betting strategy to the next level.
If you’re ready to go back to college and get your sports betting education, click the link below to access our free dedicated strategy page. Take your time and make sure that you fully understand the how and the why of each tip. Your wallet will thank you later.
The Most Popular College Basketball Bets
Did you know you can bet on more than just the winner of a college basketball game? If you didn’t, buckle up because we’ve got a lot of important information for you. Within the sport of college hoops, there are a ton of different bets that you can make on a game, tournament, or the season.
Why is this important? It’s important because betting flexibility is key to leveraging all of your knowledge. If you happen to have a prediction that does not have a direct outcome on the winner of a particular game, you’re out of luck without some of these bets. Take your time and read through these bet types, so you know what tools you have at your disposal.
As a word of caution, don’t think that just because all of these bet types exist that you must use them all. There are plenty of college hoops betting pros that make money hand over fist by only betting on game winners. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
If you’ve ever bet on college basketball before, you’ve probably made a spread bet. A spread bet is a bet where you are placing a wager on which team will perform better than the sportsbook expects them to. Confused? That’s ok. Let’s take a look at an example from the Big East that will make things clearer.
Let’s say that Cincinnati and Providence are playing in an upcoming game. As we all know, college basketball teams are not all equal. For this particular game, the sportsbook thinks that Cincinnati is going to win. More specifically, they think that they are going to win by 3 or 4 points. They decide to average their prediction and say that they think Cincinnati is going to win by 3.5 points (even though we don’t have half points in college basketball). On the flip side, this also means that they think Providence is going to lose by 3.5 points.
So, what happens when you make a spread bet? You are betting that one team or the other will outperform their expectations. This means that if you bet on Cincinnati, you are predicting that they will win by MORE than 3.5 points which is what they are currently predicted to win by. If they win by 4 points, you win your bet. If they win by 40 points, you win your bet. If they win by 3 points, you lose your bet because they performed worse than the bet said they would.
If you were to bet on Providence, they would only have to perform better than losing by 3.5 points. This means that if they only lost by 3 points, you’d win your bet. If they lost by 4 points, you’d lose because they underperformed their projection. If they won the game, you’d win your bet because they way overshot their projection.
That’s all there is to a spread bet. People like to over-complicate things, but that’s the basis of the bet. Here’s what that would look like at a sportsbook.
The plus and minus signs indicate which team is the favorite and which is the underdog. The points after that indicate by how much. The minus sign indicates the favorite and the plus sign indicates the underdog. So, If you look at Cincinnati, you will see that they are (-3.5). This means they are favored to win by 3.5 points just like we talked about above. Providence is shown at (+3.5) which means they are an underdog and projected to lose by 3.5 points.
Why the half points? This is to prevent ties and pushes. Since there are no half points in college basketball, you’re guaranteed to win or lose your bet. You will see these spread betting lines in whole numbers when necessary, but the sportsbook will put them in halves when possible.
The last number on each line is the payout odds. You’ll notice that for Cincinnati and Providence they are both listed at (-110). This is because with spread bets you will be paid out evenly regardless of which side of the bet you take. If the sportsbook needs to push bettors to one side or the other, they will adjust the spread betting line.
For example, if too many people are betting on Cincinnati, the sportsbook will adjust the spread to discourage bets on them and encourage bets on Providence. To do this, they might move the spread to 4.5 points. Now Cincinnati will have to win the game by more than 4.5 points instead of only 3.5 points. On the other side, Providence can now lose by up to 4.5 points instead of 3.5 meaning that they don’t have to perform as well as the earlier wager. Payouts will still be the same, but since each team has to perform at a different level, more bets should come in on Providence to even things out. If not, the book will continue to move the line until they get the right amount of money on each side of the bet.
Remember, if you place a bet and then the line moves, you are locked in at what you bet at. If you bet at 3.5 points and it moves to 4 or 4.5 points, your bet is still locked in at 3.5 points. You can make another bet if you’d like, but you cannot get rid of your old bet.
Spread bets a little too confusing for you? Well, if you want to be able to bet straight up on who the winner is without any point spreads, you’re looking for a moneyline bet. All that matters with a college basketball moneyline bet is who wins. It does not matter if the team was expected to win or lose or by how many points they end up winning or losing by. All that matters is the checkmark in the W column.
Let’s take a look at how this would look in a sportsbook.
Again, the plus and minus signs indicate the favorites and the underdogs the same way as with a spread bet. You will notice, though, that the number behind each is different. These are the payout odds for each team if you correctly pick them to win. The sportsbook has to have a way of encouraging and discouraging bets on each team. With spread bets, they do this with the point spread. Since moneyline bets don’t have a point spread, they do this by altering the amount you get paid for a correct pick. The favorite is going to pay less than even money, and the underdog is going to pay more than even money. If the book needs more bets on one side, they’ll increase the payout amount for that team and lower the payout amount for the opposing team.
If you’d like to learn more about moneyline bets and how they payout, check out our money line bets guide for more information.
The over-under bet in college basketball is the only bet that allows you to cheer for both teams or against both teams. With this bet, you are betting on whether the total number of points scored by both teams combined will be over or under a certain threshold. Let’s take a look at how this bet would look in the sportsbook and break it down.
If you notice, for both Cincinnati and Providence the numbers are the same. The only difference is that one number has an “O” before it and one has a “U” before it. The “O” stands for over 122, and the “U” stands for under 122. Basically, you can bet on whether or not both teams combined will score more than or less than 122 points. Disregard the fact that each bet is on the same line as one of the teams. It DOES NOT matter which team scores the points or not.
For example, let’s say that you bet the over and are looking for a cumulative score of more than 122 points. If Cincinnati scores 100 and Providence scores 40, you win your bet because the total points scored is over 122. If Cincinnati scores 0 points and Providence scores 125 points, you win your bet. That would be the most boring college basketball game in history, but you would still win your bet.
If both teams combined score is exactly 122, then the bet would be a push, and everyone would get their money back. Yes, you should expect to see these totals numbers in half-point increments to avoid that as well. The payout for an over bet or an under bet should always be the same. If the sportsbook needs to encourage or discourage action on one side of the bet, they will adjust the points total and not the payouts.
Bets that don’t have a direct outcome on the final score of the game are usually classified as proposition bets (prop bets). Prop bets in college basketball are wagers where you will bet on whether or not a certain thing will happen during a game. For example, you can bet on which team will win a particular quarter. While this will have an indirect effect on the outcome of the game, it’s not the same as betting on the game winner.
Let’s say you bet on a team to “win” the first quarter. While it’s impossible actually to win a quarter, they are referring to which team scores the most points in that quarter only. It does not matter who wins the game, only who scores the most in that quarter. Yes, scoring the most in a quarter will help you win the game, but it’s not a direct effect on the outcome.
Other prop bet examples include whether or not a certain player will have more or less than a certain number of points/steals/blocks/rebounds, which team will win the half, or even how long the National Anthem will be before a game. Some of these bets will require skill and some of them are strictly for entertainment purposes. Make sure that you can recognize the difference before you get involved in prop betting, or you could be sending yourself down a bad road.
March Madness is the time of year when college basketball runs a 68-team bracket-style tournament to decide the National Champion. The tournament is run over a few weeks during March and into early April. The term March Madness refers to, of course, the month when most of the tournament is played and the absolute madness that goes on with so many games in such a short period of time. If you’ve never experienced watching it before, you are in for a treat this year.
A bracket bet is one where you select the winners of every single game of the tournament. Through different scoring systems, you will receive points for every correct pick that you make. You make your bracket after all of the teams are selected and set in their first bracket but before the first game is played. This means that you have to predict the winners of later rounds based on who you predict is going to be in that game. Obviously, by the end of your bracket, you will have some games where you can’t score any points because you didn’t predict either of the teams getting there.
Some scoring systems award equal points for all wins and some reward more points for wins in later rounds. Some systems also award extra points for picking upsets where the lower seeded team beats, the higher seed. This happens a lot in college basketball. The bettor with the highest total number of points at the end of the tournament wins.
Bracket bets can be made in a group amongst friends, or you can enter big tournaments on some of the online betting sites we listed above. If you’re going to make only one college basketball bet all year, please let it be a bracket bet. It makes every single game being played important and just makes the overall experience that much more exciting. Still to this day, no one has ever picked a perfect bracket. Are you going to be the first one?
The last college basketball bet type that we want to talk about is tournament bets. During the college basketball season (and March Madness), teams compete in small tournaments. You’ll have the option of picking the winner of these tournaments. This applies to small mid-season tournaments as well as the big March Madness tournament. Odds will be available on every team in contention with better payouts for the underdogs and lower payouts for the favorites.
These are fun bets to make if you think that a team is capable of going all the way. These bets can pay off extremely well if you pick a team to win a tournament when the public doesn’t think they have much of a shot.
The Big Picture
Hopefully, by now, you are starting to feel like an expert on college basketball betting. We’ve provided you with all of the tools and resources you need to build a winning strategy and succeed. It’s now up to you to take what we’ve given you and put it to work in order to start winning your college basketball bets. Remember to check back often as our college basketball expert picks are updated every day during the season with tons of new insight and picks.