How to Bet on College Basketball – College Basketball Betting Strategies

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OddsJam StaffJune 1, 2022 at 12:04 PM

How to Bet on College Basketball

College hoops can be one of the least profitable sports to bet on. For starters, you are betting on college athletes as opposed to professionals. There are also roughly only 30 regular season games as opposed to 82 in the NBA. But, most importantly, there are over 350 division 1 teams to bet on! 

What this means is that not every team and every game is going to be created equal and should be viewed the same. Betting on UNC vs Duke is going to have much more action and a tighter market than betting on James Madison vs Delaware. In the latter game a sharp bettor can move a total or point spread by 3 points with one large bet. This illustrates the importance of ensuring you are getting the best lines and using all the data at your disposal to make the most informed betting decisions. 

In this article we will detail how to bet on NCAAB while also providing profitable CBB betting strategies so you can stand out in one of the more difficult sports to bet on.

Similar to the NBA, there are 3 main markets to bet on when you are betting on college basketball, detailed below.

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College Basketball Points Spread 

When you bet on a point spread you are no longer betting on who you think is going to win the game, but instead how much a team is going to win or lose by. So, instead of a team needing to win the game straight up, if you bet on the spread you need the favorite to win by over the spread amount in order to win that bet. Conversely, if you are betting on an underdog’s point spread, they no longer need to win the game straight up in order to win your bet- they can either win, or lose by less than the spread amount. 

College Basketball Moneyline

Another of the main markets to bet on in college hoops is betting on a team’s moneyline. This is first because moneyline betting is the easiest concept to understand in all sports: all you do is bet on who you think is going to win the game. It doesn’t matter how they win, just that the team you bet on wins the game. You can bet on either the favorite or the underdog, with the payouts being different depending who you decide to bet on. 

College Basketball Total Points

Betting on the total, or also called the over/under, is another popular college basketball market to bet on. When you bet on the total, you are betting on the number of points scored in the game, combined between both teams. In a totals bet you are betting on that score being over or under the set amount. Bettors love the total because it is a way they can get skin in the game without needing to back a specific team. NCAAB bettors love betting the over on games they know they are going to watch so all they need to do is root for points, which is fun!

Now that we have covered the 3 main markets, there are also other markets to bet on in college hoops. Unfortunately, one prop that is not allowed in college sports is player props. So, despite being immensely popular in professional sports, player props are not available to bet on. 

College Basketball Parlays

Parlays are fun because you can add a bunch of different bets, or legs, to a parlay for a sizable payout. Parlays are when a bettor ties multiple bets together to boost odds for a higher payout. The risk is if even one of those legs loses then the entire parlay loses.

Betting on parlays can be a way for NCAAB bettors to back multiple heavy favorites moneyline for increased odds.

College Basketball Futures

Another way to bet on college basketball is through a futures bet. A future is a bet that is not involved in a specific game at all, but instead on an event that will occur in the future- normally at the end of the season. 

Popular futures bets include: conference winners such as ACC, Big 10, or even smaller options such as Sun Belt and Mountain West. And of course, you can also place a futures bet on the NCAA Championship Winner. 

Can you bet on College Basketball Props?

The biggest difference between betting on college basketball vs the NBA is betting on player props is not allowed in college hoops. It is also not allowed in college football, and that is because of the NCAA. They forbid any prop betting on individual players due to the amateurism of college sports.

Most other types of props are available to bet on, though, including game props. So, bettors can still back or fade individual team totals and other types of game props when betting on college hoops, just not player props. 

How to Bet on March Madness

Of course, the most fun time to bet on college basketball is during March Madness. Luckily, how to bet on March Madness is the same process as regular basketball games: spread, moneyline, totals, futures, parlays, etc. Although, with that said, obviously the importance involved with the NCAA tournament makes the intensity at a much higher level. 

As soon as the bracket is set and the 68 teams are announced, oddsmakers rapidly get started on pricing all the lines so the floodgates can open and sportsbooks can start accepting bets. Now that the stage is much higher, no longer can sharp bettors alone move a line by 3 points. The markets are going to be tight, and there are strategies on how to make the most out of betting on college basketball and March Madness.

Bet on ML Underdogs in the First Two Rounds

One of the most profitable, and also enjoyable, ways to enjoy March Madness is to bet on every underdog’s moneyline in the first two rounds of the tournament. Everybody loves cinderellas in the tourney, but every year there are multiple huge upsets that make it a profitable strategy to bet on every single underdog. 

Last year the 15 seeded Oral Roberts upset the Ohio State Buckeyes, and who can forget the 1 seeded Virginia becoming the first ever 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed? Examples such as these happen on a yearly basis to make betting on underdogs not only fun but also a way to make money.

College Basketball Betting Strategies

Here is where the fun begins. Because of how many games there are in college basketball, if you can identify profitable betting strategies, you can strike gold. In this section we will detail some popular and profitable college basketball strategies.

Assign Home-Court Advantage

Everybody has heard the term home-court advantage, and the general rule of thumb that is commonly thrown out for the NFL is that home-court advantage is worth 3 or 3.5 points. Unfortunately, for college basketball it is not that easy. We still don’t have a great way of calculating home-court advantage. The dirty little secret is that home-court is not uniform across all of CBB- it varies by team and by year. So, don’t automatically assume that each team has the same benefit of being at home. 

The unfortunate reality is that there is not one source of truth when it comes to calculating each school’s home-court advantage. So, college basketball bettors should keep a close eye on a team’s home-road splits against the spread (ATS) to determine the level to which they gain an advantage of being at home. 

What is universally accepted across college basketball experts, is that home-court advantage lessens as the season goes on. There is between half a point to a full point difference in home-court advantage in November-December and after the new year. This is mostly because all of those scared freshmen playing in their first college basketball games are no longer scared freshmen. 

Identify Early Season Trends

This is another strategy that is easier said than done, but incredibly profitable if able to be accomplished. The 2020 season for Kentucky was a trainwreck, but somehow they started the season ranked 15th in a pre-season poll. They ended the season 9-16, and even worse against the spread. It was a lucrative venture for those sharp bettors who identified at the beginning of the year that Kentucky was going to struggle and was able to fade them.

An easy, but albeit not perfect way to identify an early season trend is to pay close attention to the spread records. Some teams can start hot and fade off, but if you notice a team starts 12-1 or 13-2 ATS to start the season that probably means you are sitting on gold and the general public has not caught up to how good that team is.

Fade the Public

This is another strategy that applies to almost any sport, but consistently fading the public is a profitable way to bet on college basketball. This mostly applies to fading popular, top-ranked teams, or betting unders on big, nationally televised games. 

The reason for this is because the public naturally wants to root for the big-named teams. So, the favorite is so heavily bet on that the spread is too high and there is actually a lot of value betting on the underdog ATS. The same thought process applies to betting the under in big games. Viewers are going to be watching this game and inherently want to root for points. So, they bet the over to a point where the total is higher than it should be, and you can take advantage of this by betting the under. 

Research and Trust in the Data

There are tons of sources you can use to learn about each and every college basketball team. From Kenpom to ESPN, there are countless data sources out there that you can use to gather information. Important metrics such as offensive and defensive ratings from Kenpom can help you identify profitable bets to make. 

Line Shopping

This is important for every sport, but especially for the NBA where there are so many different lines and props you can bet on. The Ohio State spread above is listed at -6.5, but let’s say you looked at every sportsbook in your state and you found them at -6 on DraftKings. That bet should be placed on DraftKings. A half point might not seem like a lot at the time, but gaining a half point for every college hoops bet placed can be the difference between profiting or not

Using OddsJam, you can always find the best lines as well as the most updated lines on the OddsJam odds page. 

Track Your Bets

This one is obvious, but another important thing a sports bettor can do is just keep track of their bets. OddsJam offers a bet tracker completely free of charge, and it is one of the most useful things you can do.

Tracking your bets can help you stay disciplined with your system if you have a bad night or couple days, or it can help identify pitfalls in your strategy that you might need to update. Either way, you need to keep track of your bets so you know whether you are profitable or not, and take the next steps from there. 

Profitable College Basketball Betting Systems

We have gone over strategies, but there are also systems to follow that can help you become a profitable sports bettor on college hoops.

Fade Top-5 Ranked Teams

This was mentioned in the fade the public betting strategy, but fading top-5 ranked teams is actually a profitable betting system. Since 2005, if a bettor put $100 on every conference underdog vs a top-5 ranked team, they would have profited over $5,000. 

Back Conference Road Dogs

This is another example of fading the favorites, but specifically in conference games where the underdog is 10+ point dogs. This is a betting system that wins at a rate that would have profited over $1,200 if you bet $100 on every underdog that fits this criteria. 

Bet on Neutral Court Unders

These mostly occur to start the season, most notably the Maui Invitational. They are played on neutral courts, and are generally higher profile games. Because of this, it falls in the category of totals that are bet up by the public and it can be profitable to bet on the under to go against the public. 

Mistakes to Avoid Betting on College Basketball

Now that we have gone over strategies, it is just as important to identify and refrain from pitfalls that you can fall into if you are not careful.

Understand That You Don’t Know Everything

One of the biggest mistakes people make when betting on sports is that they think that they know everything, or more importantly know better than the sportsbooks. If you are looking at college basketball lines and immediately a line jumps out to you as incorrect- don’t blindly assume that you are correct and bet that line. Instead, you should take a step back and do some research to see if your intuition is correct or not. Also, there are literally over 350 teams. Of course you aren’t going to know everything.

When to Trust a Trend or Not

This goes in conjunction with the betting strategy of identifying early season trends. It is important to understand when to trust a trend or not. A team starting 12-1 ATS to start a season? That’s a trend. Kentucky going 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games, all against lower competition? Not quite a trend. 

So, the moral of the story here is to do some research when looking at trends and make an educated and knowledge based decision on whether the trend is legit or just noise. 

Don’t Chase Losses

This is a general betting advice statement, but is even more important when betting on a sport such as college basketball that has a higher variance than most professional sports. You could place the best bets in the world that consistently beat the closing line, and still have a bad night. It isn’t fun and hurts when these things happen, but rage betting games without doing the proper research is just going to make the night worse. It sucks, but in the sports betting world you have to accept that you will have some bad nights. 

How does College Basketball Overtime Work?

College basketball OT rules are the exact same as the NBA. If the score is tied at the end of regulation, then the teams will play 5 minute overtime periods until a winner is decided. So, a game could theoretically go on forever if the score is continually tied at the end of the 5 minute periods. I’m sure the diehard college hoops fans remember the legendary 6 OT game between Syracuse and Connecticut back in 2009.

One thing to note here is that all points scored in overtime do count towards most bets, such as an over/under, spread, or moneyline. So, if you bet on a teams moneyline and they win in OT, that bet would still be counted as a win. Conversely, if you bet the under and the point total only goes over the total amount in overtime, you would have lost that bet. This doesn’t necessarily impact any betting strategies because of how unlikely it is for games to go into overtime, but definitely something to keep in mind.  

Where to Bet on the College Basketball

Most importantly, in order to bet on the NBA you need to be signed up for sportsbooks to be able to actually place some bets! List of our favorite sportsbooks are below:

  • Caesars Sportsbook
  • BetMGM Sportsbook
  • BetRivers Sportsbook
  • PointsBet Sportsbook
  • Unibet Sportsbook
  • FanDuel Sportsbook
  • DraftKings Sportsbook

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