6 Dangers of Betting NCAA Basketball Point Spreads

Danger NCAA Basketball Betting Point Spreads

I like to bet on NCAA basketball games because there are so many games on the schedule. With so many games, it’s easier to find a few games that offer good gambling value.

College basketball point spreads are challenging because of all of the variables you have to predict. But smart bettors are able to wade through all of the variables and identify value.

Here are six dangers you have to learn how to avoid when you’re handicapping NCAA basketball point spreads. Number one is a killer, so make sure you pay special attention to it.

1. Coaches Couldn’t Care Less about Point Spreads

If you’re a sports gambler, the odds are good that you’ve had this experience. You’re winning a point spread bet late in the game, and a coach takes out his best player, or the winning team lets up and lets the losing team make the final score closer than it should be.

You end up losing a bet that looked like a winner until late in the game.

It’s extremely irritating when this happens, but the only way to deal with it is by trying to evaluate games, knowing that these things can happen. And the main reason they happen is that college basketball coaches don’t care about the point spread.

He still had a great season if a college basketball coach goes 25 – 5 and never covers the spread.

And the odds are good that he’s going to be paid well. NCAA basketball coaches get paid to win games. They don’t get paid to cover the spread. You can’t afford to forget these facts, no matter how much you wish they weren’t facts.

But these facts also have a silver lining.
What if you could figure out how to identify underdogs that have value instead of focusing on favorites on the point spread? In games where one team is a big favorite, they’re likely to win the game, but they’re also likely to rest players late in the game.

Underdog coaches don’t care about point spreads either, but they do care about making games they lose as competitive as possible. So keep these things in mind when you’re evaluating NCAA basketball point spreads.

2. Big Favorites Rest Players with a Big Lead

Though the NCAA basketball season isn’t as long as the NBA season is, it’s still a grind for the players. Coaches know they need their best players to be in the best possible shape late in the season.

So when a team gets a big lead, the coach is likely to rest his best players.

Resting good players with a big lead keeps the best players fresh and gets younger players more game experience.

Please Note:
You can’t afford to ignore this information anytime you’re evaluating a game with a big favorite. I’ve been burnt by this so many times that I’ve stopped betting on the point spread on big college basketball favorites. Likewise, if I can’t find value on the big underdog, I don’t bet the point spread.

When I do find value on the underdog in one of these games, I often also bet the moneyline n the favorite. Of course, the moneyline on a big favorite is expensive, but you can win two wagers on the same game as long as you win.

3. Road Team Point Spread Danger

Road teams in NCAA basketball are about as unpredictable as you’re going to find in sports. I bet on road teams in college basketball, but less than 25% of my wagers are on road teams.

College basketball players are young and in good physical shape, but this doesn’t mean that travel doesn’t influence how they play. And basketball is such a feel sport that a player might have an off game simply because he doesn’t feel as comfortable in another arena as he does on his home court.

If I’m betting on a college basketball road team with the point spread, I have to have a clear picture of value. So when I evaluate the game, I have to see at least four or five points of value that the line is off. In other words, if the spread is – eight, my evaluation needs to show at least – 12 or – 13 for me to make the wager.

4. In-Game Point Spread Betting

When I started betting on college basketball, you had to make all of your point spread bets before the game started. But now, many online sportsbooks offer in-game point spreads on these games. In-game point spreads can be quite valuable in college basketball.

For example:
When a big favorite jumps out to a big lead, the point spread can go up during the game. But you know that the odds are good that the winning team is going to let down in the second half and rest some players, so the final score is likely to be tighter than it looks in the first half.

There’s usually a lot of value in taking the in-game points on the underdog in this situation. And if the underdog is playing at home, there tends to be even more value.

Most of my work during the week is evaluating teams and games before the games. But I also spend some time tracking the in-game point spreads during each game, looking for additional value. Of course, you won’t find value on every game during the game, but you need to find value wherever it’s available.

If you’re ignoring in-game point spreads, you’re missing out on some value.

5. Home and Away Rims Are Different

It seems like the rims in the NBA are pretty much uniform. The rims should be the same because the NBA can afford to use the exact same rims and boards for each team.

But in NCAA basketball, the rims are often different at home and on the road.

It’s not that the rims aren’t the same size and height because all of the rims are the same height and size. But the stiffness of the rims can vary a great deal from court to court. You need to track the performance of every visiting team based on where the game is played.

For example:
You need to compare the normal production versus the actual production for every team that plays at Duke during the season. And you also need to make adjustments based on the individual players. For example, a dominant big man who makes 90% of his shots within a few feet of the basket is less affected by the rim than a three-point shooter.

When so many point spreads, bets are decided by one or two baskets, knowing which rims teams struggle with is valuable.

6. Comparing Moneyline and Point Spread Lines

After you lose your sixth game because of a late point spread swing, it’s easy to overreact and make more bets on the moneyline and fewer bets on the point spread. But you have to learn that the moneyline and the point spread are two different things.

You have to evaluate each for value.

Once you learn that on some college basketball games, there’s value on the moneyline and not on the point spread, and in some games, there’s value on the point spread and not on the moneyline, you’re on the right track for long-term profits.

Sometimes there’s value on both the moneyline and point spread, and in some games, there’s no value on either line. The only thing you want to do is find value and bet on the value. Stop trying to find value where there isn’t value or trying to force your handicapping to show value where none exists.

I never evaluate the moneyline and point spread at the same time. I evaluate one and then evaluate the other. I place bets based on where the value is, and if both show value, I place two bets.

The other place to look for value is on the total line.

I haven’t talked about the total line in this post, but you need to evaluate college basketball games for the total as well, or you’re missing yet another opportunity to find value.


Making a profit betting on NCAA basketball point spreads is challenging. But there are so many games during the season that learning this skill is valuable.

The most important thing to understand is that coaches don’t care about the point spread. Once you learn this, you can evaluate games better. Though it’s fairly new, being able to bet on point spreads after the game starts is one of the most valuable tools NCAA basketball bettors can use.

You can still bet on the moneyline and totals, but once you master point spreads, you’re going to make a lot of money.


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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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