How to Bet on College Basketball – NCAAB Betting Guide and Tips

Whether you’re just into March Madness, follow your local state team religiously, or have just watched your first NCAA game, our guide on how to bet on college basketball will help you find that all-important edge.

Our experts provide the latest college basketball betting tips and will outline the best way to learn how to bet on NCAAB games. We’ll teach you the finer points of NCAAB betting strategies and reveal the 10 best sportsbooks for betting on college basketball in the US.

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How to Bet on College Basketball

You can learn how to bet on college basketball on two different platforms: retail sportsbooks and online US sports betting apps. Retail sportsbooks are located all over the country and are typically found within licensed casinos. Online sportsbooks can be accessed via desktop, mobile browser, or a native app.

The college season begins in November and culminates with the March Madness tournament which determines the national champion and is well-known for its notable upsets where the underdog has overcome the favorite.

How College Basketball Odds Work

You’ll need a basic understanding of odds to fully understand how to bet on a college basketball game. For each market, there will be a favorite and an underdog. The favorite will have the shortest odds providing the lowest payout, while the underdog will have long odds and the higher payout.

For example, looking at this Final Four Futures market, we can see that Kansas is the favorite at +350 while Duke is the underdog at +400.

Let’s look at the math. Positive American odds depict how much you can win from a $100 bet. So, +350 means a $100 bet would net a $350 profit while +400 odds would see a $400 profit from a $100 bet.

Final Four Futures market - NCAAB betting odds

Examples of How to Bet on NCAA Basketball

Let’s take a look at the futures market ahead of the NCAA basketball season. This market allows you to pick a team and bet on whether they will win the entire championship.

BetMGM has provided odds for each team with Kansas State the current favorite at +1,000. You would need Kansas to win for the bet to be successful.

NCAA basketball futures odds.

Next, we’ll take a look at a simple moneyline bet for a game between Michigan State and Houston.

Michigan State Houston
-480 +335

To bet on this market, you would simply need to pick which team you think will win the game. For example, if you were to bet $100 on the favorite (Michigan State), you would win $120.83 which is a profit of only $20.83. However, if you bet on the underdog (Houston) and they manage to pull off an upset, a $100 bet would stand to win $435 – a profit of $335.

How to Bet on A College Basketball Game

Betting on any NCAAB game is remarkably simple if you choose to bet at any of our recommended sportsbooks. The sign-up process is quick, and placing a bet is highly intuitive.

BetMGM is one of our most trusted partners, so we’ll use the top mobile sports betting app in our example below.

1. Register at BetMGM

Use one of our provided links to go to the BetMGM homepage. Click on the gold “Register” button that can be found at the top of the screen. Enter your personal details, including your social security number (SSN).

BetMGM sign up screen.

2. Download the BetMGM app

You can also download the BetMGM mobile betting app if you prefer. Simply head to either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and search for BetMGM sportsbook. Click “Get” or “Install” to download and install the platform to your home screen.

Google Play Store showing BetMGM betting app.

3. Claim the welcome bonus

The welcome bonus available to you will depend on which state you reside in. In most cases, you won’t need to do anything other than complete your first deposit and place a qualifying bet.

4. Deposit funds

Select the gold “Deposit” button found at the top of the screen and then choose a payment method from the numerous available options. Choose a deposit amount and provide your payment details as needed. For example, you can enter your credit card details or provide banking numbers.

BetMGM payment method logos

5. Bet on an NCAAB market

Consider our top NCAA basketball betting tips when reviewing the available markets. This will help you find an edge. Choose a market and then make your selection. Your selection/s will appear in the bet slip. Add your stake, make any adjustments such as creating a parlay, and then hit “place bet”.

Bet slip at BetMGM displaying NCAAB bet.

Types of College Basketball Bets

To learn how to bet on college basketball and be successful depends on the range of bet types you feel comfortable covering. Sometimes it simply isn’t valuable betting on the moneyline but the points spread might provide an edge. That’s why we have explained the most popular bet types available for college betting at the best US online sportsbooks.


This is the most basic of NCAAB bets which simply requires you to choose which team will win a single game. For example, UConn to beat Duke at -185 would be a moneyline bet. If UConn wins, the bet is a winner but if Duke was to be successful the bet would lose.


A futures bet covers a long-term outcome, typically the final result of a tournament, championship, or series, and is usually placed before the tournament or season begins.

Some futures markets may continue throughout a season with the odds adjusting as teams win and lose. For example, the Duke Blue Devils to win the NCAA Championships is a futures bet.

Futures market at BetMGM

Point Spread

Spread betting is like adding a handicap to the favorite. This bet asks you to choose who will win the game and by what margin. So, a bet on the favorite, UConn at -7.5 would mean UConn needs to win by eight points or more for the bet to be classed a winner.


Totals betting lets you bet on the total combined number of points scored in a single NCAAB game. Rather than betting on the exact number, you’ll instead get to choose whether you think the total will be over or under a certain number. For example, Over 220.5 or Under 220.5.

The combined score in this scenario would need to be 221 or higher for the Over bet to be successful. Conversely, a score of 220 or lower would see the Under market as the winner.


Legally, props are a contentious market as several states have banned prop betting on in-state teams as a means to prevent match-fixing. Props come in two forms – player and game props.

These are a special bet type that covers individual player performances or specific game outcomes that have no bearing or relation to the final outcome of the game.

For example, a game prop of “Ohio State to score first points” is a bet on a specific game outcome but not the final result like a moneyline or point spread would be.

NCAAB prop market.


You can significantly boost your odds by pooling several individual bets into a single parlay. The odds of every selection you add to your parlay will multiply the odds. However, every selection – or leg – of your parlay must be successful for the parlay bet to pay out. For example, if you place a parlay with three selections, all three selections must be correct.

Typically, parlays cannot contain more than one selection from a single game. But same game parlays (SGPs) are available at some US online sports betting apps.

How to Bet on College Basketball – Tips & Strategies

We rounded up our best basketball tipsters for our college basketball betting guide. These top college basketball betting tips can help you make more accurate predictions and aid in finding an edge by spotting valuable odds where a novice bettor might miss the opportunity.

  • Consider historical data – Certain states do play a certain way. This is because a style of basketball has been ingrained at that school or a particular coach has been leading a team for some time. This means that past performances will likely be a good indication of future performances too, so use the data to your advantage.
  • Bet against the spread – Moneyline odds are notoriously tight but point spreads are far more valuable. You’ll be able to get much better lines when betting on a clear favorite this way when compared to the moneyline, and you can receive a handy payout by backing the underdog to cover the spread when the bookmaker misses how close the game will really be.
  • Follow March Madness trends – According to statistics provided by Fox Sports regarding March Madness, underdogs only win 25% of the time but cover the spread 51% of the time. Furthermore, the no.1 seed has a staggering 99.3% win rate in the Round of 64. If you follow the trends, you’ll be able to use this knowledge to your advantage when betting on basketball.
  • Watch college basketball – This applies to experienced fans and bettors who don’t think they know how to bet on college basketball yet. Watch as many games as you can to fully grasp the unique rules that do differ somewhat from the NBA.
  • Stay focused – With 350 teams across 32 conferences to bet on in Division I, you’ll never be able to stay on top of the performances of every team. It’s best to pick a single conference and follow it through to March Madness where the pool to bet on will drop to 68 teams and you can expand your focus.
  • Bet live – You can take advantage of wild changes in odds by betting in-play rather than pre-game. The odds shift based on occurrences within the game, but live odds often struggle to predict outcomes such as comebacks. You can find a major edge by predicting an outcome before the odds have time to adjust.

Legal States for College Basketball Betting

38 states allow college basketball betting but you may find a range of restrictions depending on the state you are in. 13 states do not allow you to bet on an in-state team while others impose specific restrictions on the types of bets you can place.

For example, Pennsylvania does not allow player prop bets, Indiana sports betting laws only allows pre-game player props, and props are only allowed in Illinois if you bet at retail sportsbooks. New York and Washington are among the states that do not allow in-state betting at all.

State College basketball betting Can you bet on your in-state team? State College basketball betting Can you bet on your in-state team?
Alabama Montana
Alaska Nebraska
Arizona Nevada
Arkansas New Hampshire
California New Jersey
Colorado New Mexico
Connecticut New York
Delaware North Carolina
Florida North Dakota
Georgia Ohio
Hawaii Oklahoma
Idaho Oregon
Illinois Pennsylvania
Indiana Rhode Island
Iowa South Carolina
Kansas South Dakota
Kentucky Tennessee
Louisiana Texas
Maine Utah
Maryland Vermont
Massachusetts Virginia
Michigan Washington
Minnesota West Virginia
Mississippi Wisconsin
Missouri Wyoming
District of Columbia

College Basketball Schedule

We’ve provided a quick and easy college basketball schedule for those who want to know how to bet on NCAAB for this upcoming season. You’ll find the dates for all the biggest events for the season ahead including March Madness.

Event Dates Event Dates
Asheville Championship Nov 10–12 So Cal Challenge Nov 20−22
Legends Classic Nov 16–17 Cancún Challenge Nov 21 & 22
Bahamas Championship Nov 17−19 Empire Classic Nov 21 & 22
Charleston Classic Nov 17−19 Battle 4 Atlantis Nov 22−24
Myrtle Beach Invitational Nov 17−19 Hall of Fame Classic Nov 22 & 23
Nassau Championship Nov 17−19 NIT Season Tip-Off Nov 22 & 24
Roman Main Event Nov 17−19 Rady Children’s Invitational Nov 23 & 24
Hall of Fame Tip Off Nov 18 & 19 ESPN Events Invitational Nov 23, 24, & 26
Paradise Jam Tournament Nov 18−21 Emerald Coast Classic Nov 24 & 25
Cayman Islands Classic Nov 19–21 Diamond Head Classic Dec 22−25
Fort Myers Tip-Off Nov 20−22 March Madness Mar 19 – Apr 8
Jamaica Classic Nov 20–22
Maui Invitational Nov 20−22

Women’s NCAAB

The women’s game is equally as exciting as the men’s, so there are plenty of reasons to learn how to bet on women’s college basketball too. The tournament schedule is similar to the men’s game and includes the final March Madness tournament. A slightly smaller ball is the only major difference since the three-point line was moved to match the men’s distance in 2021/22.

NCAAB Women's future market.


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Matty Treuberg

Matthias is a sports betting expert and decades-long sports betting and casino content creator. A former leading contributor to Pinnacle Betting Resources, Matthias has the lowdown on everything from the latest state legislation and the perfect blackjack strategy to nailing the ideal parlay and predicting how many touchdowns Tagovailoa will average this season.