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.


Is It Legal To Bet On College Basketball?

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 in all states that offer legal sports betting. 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 no matter where you are.

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 – COVID-19’s Impact On College Basketball

The NCAA canceled all remaining postseason events for the 2019-2020 season on March 12 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the first-ever cancelation of March Madness. As the pandemic is a global crisis of an unprecedented scale, it could also impact the traditional November start of the 2020-2021 season. The timetable for a nationwide recovery is still highly uncertain, and it’s possible that large gatherings of people won’t be deemed safe until a vaccine can be rolled out, which won’t be until 2021 at the earliest.

Professional sports have returned to action but with no crowds, but college basketball is in a tenuous position. It is a billion-dollar industry, but college athletes are legally classified as amateurs. Continuing the season as scheduled without clearance from nationwide health bodies would put the NCAA at risk of class action lawsuits from student-athletes, as well as greater judicial scrutiny of the notion of college athletes as amateurs. A more likely scenario would be a delayed start to the season—possibly several months into 2021. This will be an interesting dilemma to monitor as the pandemic continues to evolve.

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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. Unfortunately, the most chaotic part of the 2020 college basketball season turned out to be a global influenza virus that canceled both conference tournaments and March Madness. Luckily, sportsbooks have already begun offering odds on who will win the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The current 2021 championship odds look like this:

  • Villanova +900
  • Iowa +1000
  • Kentucky +1000
  • Gonzaga +1000
  • Virginia +1100
  • Baylor +1400
  • Kansas +1400
  • Michigan +1400
  • Creighton +1600
  • Duke +1800

Betting On College Basketball: Online Vs. Land-Based

NCAA BasketballLand-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 legal sports betting 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

One of the biggest features of online sportsbooks is the ability to wager on college basketball games live. Live in-game betting is one of the premier ways to bet on college basketball games as the action continues well into the game. There will be betting lines for every key possession, making the game even more exciting. These betting lines will come and go quickly so you have to move fast in order to capitalize. Live betting is the best way to hedge your bet as well as there are so many betting lines you can cancel out any betting losses as the game goes on. Live college basketball betting is the best way to play.