College Basketball Playoffs come at the end of the season in one big tournament where the winner is the National Champion.
The NCAA Tournament is called March Madness and the National Championship and there is a lot of betting action that takes place when the madness of March rolls around for the NCAA Tournament.
How the College Basketball Playoffs Work
In College Basketball, there are 353 Division 1 teams and for those teams their goal is to make the Big Dance and win it all. For the NCAA Tournament, it was expanded to 64 teams in 1985 and now there are even more than that with the First Four play-in games.
For the NCAA Tournament 32 teams qualify automatically by winning their conference tournaments and the other 38 teams are chosen by a tournament selection committee. After Selection Sunday, the bracket for the single-elimination tournament is set. After the First Four play-in games there are 64 teams in the main bracket.
The NCAA Tournament bracket is divided into the four regions in the East, South, Midwest, and West with 16 teams in each seeded 1-16 with the stronger teams seeded higher. The tournament is then played out and the team that wins their respective region advances to the last four, which is called the Final Four.
Those teams then face off in the semifinals of the tournament with the winners playing in the National Championship game.
Betting Types for the College Basketball Playoffs
For the college basketball playoffs, there are many betting options available. They are the same ones available throughout the season, but there are many more wagering options for the Big Dance when it comes to futures bets and proposition bets, which are simply called prop bets.
The spread and the totals bets are the most popular bets during the season as well as during March Madness.
In the spread bet on a game the favorite will be giving points and the underdog will be getting points. Here is an example of a point spread bet in college basketball.
Indiana -3.5 vs. Michigan +3.5
In this example Indiana is the favorite shown by the – in front of the number and on the other side of the coin Michigan is the underdog shown by the + in front of the number. In this game Indiana has to win by at least four points to cover the spread and Michigan has to win or lose by fewer than four points in order to cover.
So, if the final score of the game is Indiana 75 Michigan 70 Indiana would be the winning bet for the game since they covered the spread winning by five points with them favored by 3.5 points.
Of all the sports bets the totals one is the easiest to understand. For a game, the sportsbook will post a total for the game in how many points will be scored in the game by both teams and you simply bet over or under that amount. Here is an example of a totals bet:
Indiana vs. Michigan 130.5
The total for this example is 130.5 and you bet the over or under that number for the number of total points scored in the game. If the final score is Indiana 70 Michigan 65 the total number of points scored is 135, so with the total posted at 130.5 the over would be the winning bet and the under would be the losing one.
For the spread and the totals bets sportsbooks will, often, place a .5 at the end of the number. This takes the tie of the bet out of the equation. However, if there is no .5 the game can end in a tie in terms of betting.
If the total of a game is posted at 140 and the final score of the Indiana vs. Michigan game is 72-68 the total of the game is exactly the same as the posted total, so the game is a push and you will get your original stake back.
College Basketball Parlay Betting
In a parlay bet for college basketball, there are multiple games in one bet. You can pick as many games as you like, usually up to 10, and you have to pick the winners of all the games, where you can bet totals and spreads, for the full parlay bet to be a winning one.
The more games in a parlay bet the higher the payout will be, but also harder to win. If you make an 8-game parlay bet and you win seven and lose one the bet is still a losing one.
In terms of parlay betting there are also teaser and pleasers with multiple games in the bet where you can change the totals and the spreads. These are less common and more difficult to understand and not all sportsbooks offer them.
College Basketball Futures Betting
In a futures bet you are betting on the future outcome and you can make them during the regular season and for the NCAA Tournament. A few examples of these are which team will win the NCAA Tournament, which team will win the Big 10 Conference tournament, which player will win the John Wooden award for the player of the year, and for the NCAA Tournament which team will win the South Region.
You can make futures bets before and during the season, but you need to be aware that during the season the odds will change depending on how that team is doing. So, if you bet on Michigan to win the Big 10 Conference tournament getting solid odds and they get off to a horrible start or lose a key player to injury their odds will change.
The odds you get at the time you make the bet are the ones that you will be locked in on no matter how much they change.
College Basketball Playoff Prop Bets
There are prop bets available in the regular season, but not nearly as many as there are for March Madness.
A prop bet has nothing to do with the outcome of the game and there are both player and team prop bets.
A few examples of a prop bet are will a team score over or under 35 points in the first half, will player A score over or under 20 points, will team A or team B have more 3-pointers in a game?
For the season and for the NCAA Tournament, the bigger the game the more prop bets will be available. This is especially the case for the Final Four and National Championship game for the NCAA Tournament.