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College basketball is one of the most popular sports, especially in America, and on top of that it is also one of the most popular sports to bet on. When it comes to betting on college basketball we are mainly talking about the 353 teams that are in Division 1.

Out of the 353 D1 teams they play in 32 conferences around the United States. Teams play out of conference games in the beginning of the season and then in conference ones culminating in the conference tournament. The ultimate goal of the college programs is to advance to the NCAA Tournament, which is referred to as the Big Dance or March Madness.

In 1985 the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams and there are four regions, East, West, Midwest, and South with 16 teams in each. They are seeded #1 – #16 depending on how strong they are, as, for example, the top ranked teams in the nation will be the top seeds while teams from minor conferences are the lower seeds.

College Basketball Betting
The best players play in the National Tournament. (Getty Images).

In the 32 conferences, they are bigger ones and smaller ones with the bigger ones having tougher teams and competition. The winners of the individual conference tournaments receive automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament with a special selection committee handing out 32 at-large bids.

There is a bracket for the 64 teams in the National Tournament with each region having 16 teams. They face off in a winner-take all tournament, which first culminates in the Final four and then the NCAA Championship game.

The Final Four is the winner of each of the four regions and then the winner of the championship game is the National Champion for that season in college basketball. Not only is the NCAA Tournament truly March Madness, but also gives people tons of betting options as well as many throughout the regular season.

College Basketball National Tournament structure

64 teams qualify from around the US.

  • First Four
  • 1st Round
  • 2nd Round
  • Sweet 16
  • Elite 8
  • Final Four
  • National Championship Game

College Basketball Bet Types

There are quite a few bets for college basketball during the regular season and many more when the tournament takes place in March. The most popular bet types for college basketball games are the spread and the total.

College Basketball Spread Betting

In the spread the favorite will be giving points and the underdog will be getting points.

An example would look like this:

Duke -3.5 vs. North Carolina +3.5

Duke is the favorite denoted by the – in front of the number and North Carolina is the underdog denoted by the + in front of the number. In this example, Duke will have to win by four or more points to be the winner of the bet.

Conversely if North Carolina wins the game or loses by three or fewer points they are the winner. If Duke beats North Carolina 75-70 they won by 5 points so they covered the spread and Duke would be the winning bet and North Carolina would be the losing bet.

College Basketball Moneyline betting

The moneyline is also available at many sportsbooks for college basketball where you simple pick a winner, but there will be inflated odds to show the underdog and favorite. So, since you are only picking the winner you will have to bet more to win less betting on the favorite and bet less to win more betting on the underdog since you are not getting any points.

College Basketball Totals Betting

The totals is a simple bet to understand, as you are betting over or under the amount of total points in the game set by the sportsbook. For example, they have the Kansas vs. Oklahoma game with a total of 122.5.

If the score of the game is Kansas 65 Oklahoma 60 the total number of points scored is 125 so the over is the winning bet and the under is the losing bet.

College Basketball Parlay Betting

Parlays are popular in college basketball and a parlay bet is basically several in one. You can bet various games all in one bet, for spreads and totals or both, and all of the bets in the parlay have to be winners for the bet to be a winning one.

The payout is greater the more games you wager on in a parlay bet, but it is also harder to win since every game in the parlay has to be a winner. In parlays, there are also teasers and pleasers where you can sway the point spread and total and what you can do in these bets will depend on the sportsbook’s rules for those bets.

College Basketball Exotics

For more exotic type of bets there are proposition bets and futures bets, which are the two most popular ones. There are also many more of them during the NCAA Tournament.

A proposition bet, called a prop bet, is one that has nothing to do with the final outcome of the game. A couple of examples of a prop bet would be will Duke score Over/Under 40 points in the first half? Will Player A for one team score more than Player B for the other team? Will Kansas have more 3-pointers than Oklahoma State?

There are tons of prop bets to make and while there are not so many available during the regular season they are tons available for the NCAA Tournament, especially when it gets to the Final Four.

In a futures’ bet you are betting on the future outcome of something. A couple of examples of a futures bets are will Kansas win the Big Dance? Will Duke win the ACC Tournament.

You can make futures bets before and during the season, but the odds will change in season depending on how that team is doing. For example, if you bet on Kansas at +1000 to win the Big Dance and they are having a bad season their odds will reflect that.

As stated before, you can make futures bets before and in the season and the odds you get when making the bet are the odds you are locked in on no matter how much they change at the sportsbook. The most popular futures bet is betting on who will win the National Championship meaning what team will win the NCAA Tournament.