Betting On College Basketball
College basketball is one of the most wagered-on sports in the United States. Other than the NFL season, sportsbooks see more wagering action during March Madness than any other time of year. It is easy to understand the appeal to bettors, as college basketball possesses a unique combination of comprehensive media coverage and an immense variety of teams to bet on—347 in Division I. With the 2019-2020 season reaching new heights of parity and chaos, the NCAA’s flagship tournament could see an even larger volume of bets than usual. After all, everyone loves a good underdog story.
College basketball bets function much the same as football bets. The most popular wagering options are bets against the spread, moneylines, over/unders, and futures. Parlay bets are also very popular in college basketball because of the sheer volume of games; this season features at least one college basketball game every day from November 5 until March 9, with the exception of Christmas Eve. Recent rule changes regarding player transfers have shifted the balance of the sport slightly away from perennial powers, which has made things more unpredictable and potentially profitable for savvy bettors.
It depends on which sportsbooks you frequent, but in general, it is legal to place wagers on college basketball games with most major betting platforms. If you are betting with an overseas sportsbook, your wagers are not subject to state or federal law, meaning that as long as you meet the minimum age requirement, you can place college basketball bets to your heart’s content.
If you plan on using domestic sportsbooks, rules about college sports betting vary from state to state, so it is important to read up on your state’s laws before attempting to bet on your favorite team. In New York, for example, land-based sports betting is legal at a few different locations, but it is illegal to bet on in-state college teams like Syracuse or Buffalo. In Oregon, the state-sanctioned Scoreboard app provides a full sportsbook experience for betting on professional sports but offers no college sports gambling options at all. However, all these myriad legal quirks can be sidestepped by simply using online books instead.
Today’s College Basketball Betting Action
The Kansas Jayhawks host the Iowa State Cyclones in a Big 12 Battle tonight. Kansas is coming into tonight’s game with an 11-1 record in the conference, a 12-1 record at home, and are currently on a 10-game win streak. The number 3 ranked Jayhawks are -1900 favorites in tonight’s outing as opposed to Iowa State’s +900 longshot odds. The spread favors Kansas at -16.5(-105) and the Over/Under for tonight’s matchup is 143.5 with both the over and the under set at -110. Kansas should make easy work of the Cyclones who have yet to win an away game this season.
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Current College Basketball Futures Odds
College basketball is a volatile sport, with teams playing two or three games most weeks. Because of that volatility, championship odds can experience titanic shifts over a short time period. Despite the potential for huge changes in small time frames, listed odds are only adjusted once a week—every Saturday at 12 p.m. EST. Current odds for the national championship are as follows:
- Gonzaga +700
- Kansas +850
- Baylor +850
- Michigan State +900
- Louisville +950
- Duke +950
- San Diego State +1200
- Dayton +1400
- Auburn +1500
- Kentucky +1600
- Maryland +1800
- Oregon +1800
- Ohio State +2000
- Seton Hall +2000
- Florida State +2200
Most books only publicly list odds for roughly 90 of college basketball’s 347 teams, but some offer bets for unlisted teams by request. Considering that the listed teams are those most likely to win the national title, and some listed teams face odds as remote as +100000, most people probably won’t consider this option.
Betting On College Basketball: Online Vs. Land-Based
Land-based, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks offer a wide variety of college basketball bets. Depending on where the book is located, these may include everything from the traditional moneyline and futures bets to more niche options like bets against the first and second-half spread. Land-based books also offer an exciting atmosphere in which patrons can enjoy watching college basketball, but that upside is countered by the limited, cumbersome nature of placing bets with a live bookie.
Online sportsbooks can’t offer the same experience of watching college basketball with three hundred other heavily invested bettors, but they make up for it with a bevy of different wager types. For regional, small-conference games, these might include a first and second-half over/under or combined bets on which team will lead at the half and which will win the game. For major, nationally broadcast games, many online sportsbooks will even offer individual player prop bets.
Bettors, regardless of whether they prefer land-based or online sportsbooks, should be aware of their state’s laws regarding wagers on college sports. Some states in which sports betting is legal still have prohibitions on some or all forms of betting on college sports. If you use online sportsbooks rather than domestic ones, these state laws do not apply. As they are not covered by the Federal Wire Act, placing bets with overseas sportsbooks is completely safe and legal.
Depositing Into A Sportsbook To Bet On College Basketball
While depositing money with a brick-and-mortar sportsbook is as easy as checking out at a grocery store, online sportsbooks are a bit more variable. Every online sportsbook has its own rules governing things like minimum and maximum deposits and what payment methods it will accept, but there are some commonalities. Most major sportsbooks accept deposits via credit or debit card. They also support cryptocurrency deposits, most commonly via Bitcoin. While cryptocurrency has been used as a scary media buzzword over the last few years, it actually represents a safe, secure, and untraceable method of depositing money into your account.
Every major online sportsbook also offers unique promotions to encourage people to deposit, most commonly in the form of a percentage match on a customer’s first deposit. In other words, when a bettor deposits money, the book will deposit additional money in their account, based on this pre-arranged percentage.
How Do I Withdraw My College Basketball Winnings?
Again, withdrawal from a land-based sportsbook is relatively foolproof. Winners are directed to take their bet slip to a cashier’s window. Upon verification of their winning bet, the cashier will walk them through their various payout options and just like putting money in, withdrawing from online sportsbooks is also quite simple. As with deposits, every online sportsbook offers its own options for bettors to withdraw their winnings, each of which has its own stipulations about the minimum and maximum withdrawal amounts.
Because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), bettors cannot withdraw money directly from overseas sportsbook accounts into their bank accounts. Because of this, the easiest method of withdrawal is usually the aforementioned cryptocurrency. Featuring the lowest minimum withdrawals and deposits and near-instant processing times, cryptocurrency represents the ideal method of facilitating transactions with online sportsbooks. If for whatever reason cryptocurrency isn’t practical or ideal, books offer alternative methods like wire transfers and courier checks, but these methods usually have additional fees associated, as well as higher minimum withdrawals.
Ways To Wager On College Basketball
The moneyline is the simplest way to bet on college basketball. Moneyline bets are simply bets on who you think will win the game. The simplicity of the moneyline makes it an attractive option for new players, but the formatting of moneyline bets could still use some explanation. With all wager types, the favorite will be listed with a minus sign in front of their line, while the underdog will be listed with a plus sign. With the moneyline, the line represents payouts based on a standard wager amount of $100. Moneylines for a game will be listed like this:
- Pittsburgh +210
- Notre Dame -250
To translate, Notre Dame is the favorite to win the game. To win $100 betting on Notre Dame, you would need to wager $250. If you bet on Pittsburgh to win, a winning bet of $100 would net a $210 return in profit.
The over/under is a great way to bet on college basketball even when you don’t have a vested rooting interest in a game. When a sportsbook lists the over/under for a game, it represents a projection of the total number of points that will be scored in that game between both teams. The final margin of victory doesn’t matter, nor does the manner in which points or scored. The total number is all that matters. Bettors wager that the total will either go over or under the designated amount. In a real online sportsbook, the over/under will be formatted something like this:
- Iowa O136.0 (-110)
- Purdue U136.0 (-110)
To reiterate, the actual result of the game doesn’t matter in this situation. If Iowa wins the game 135-0, the total will still be under. If Purdue grinds out a 70-67 win in eight overtimes, the total will still be over. If the final total is exactly the same as the over/under, the bet is a push, and bettors will receive their money back.
For more seasoned bettors, the spread offers more favorable odds for the college basketball season’s many lopsided matchups. When betting against the spread, you are betting not just on who will win, but on what the margin of victory will be. As with the moneyline, favorites will be listed with a minus sign next to their line, while underdogs will be listed with a plus sign. When betting on a favorite to cover the spread, they need to not only win the game but win it by more points than the spread for your bet to cash out. When betting on an underdog, they can either win the game outright or lose by fewer points than the spread for a winning bet. A college basketball spread might look something like this:
- Villanova +3.0 (-110)
- Butler -3.0 (-110)
In order for a bet on Butler to win, the Bulldogs would need to win by at least 4 points. A Villanova bet would cash out if Villanova either wins the game outright or loses by 2 points or fewer. If Butler wins the game by exactly 3 points, the bet is a push.
A parlay bet is a risky alternative to conventional betting that maximizes potential returns by drastically reducing the odds of getting a winning ticket. Rather than being a bet on one specific outcome, a parlay is a bet on multiple specific outcomes occurring together. While this increases the payout of a winning bet exponentially, even one incorrect pick in a parlay causes it to become a losing ticket. Parlay tickets can include bets of multiple different types from multiple different sports. A college basketball parlay ticket might look something like this:
- Florida over Georgia (-550)
- Virginia -7.5 vs. Clemson (-110)
- Butler vs. Villanova – O131.5 (-110)
- Total Points for Ty-Shon Alexander – O16.5 (-140)
- Oklahoma State over TCU (-150)
While all of these events individually have odds of 50% or greater, the hypothetical bettor who makes this parlay needs all of them to occur for his or her ticket to pay out. Florida must beat Georgia, Virginia must beat Clemson by 8 or more points, Butler and Villanova must total 132 points or more, Ty-Shon Alexander must score at least 17 points and Oklahoma State must beat TCU. If all of these things happen, this bettor could see a return on investment well over 1,000%.
Live Betting On College Basketball
Basketball features more moment-to-moment change than any other sport, and college basketball, in particular, is a game that can experience massive momentum swings throughout a game. Consequently, live betting on college basketball is a popular endeavor. Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are limited in the live betting options they can provide because it takes time to process bets in person. Online bets don’t suffer from such limitations, and most major online sportsbooks have algorithms that recalculate the odds of various live bets from moment-to-moment throughout a game. For example, an early explosion of points might increase the live over/under. Live betting via mobile wagering platforms, including online sportsbooks, is also a popular pastime, and can be a great way to place bets while watching a game with your friends.