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 march madness


A Guide to Gambling on College Hoops

College basketball is one of the premier sports in the US and has a big following in Canada too, especially in March when a large proportion of the population go bracket crazy in preparation for March Madness.  Each and every night throughout the season there will be many games, so for the sports bettor, this is an ideal situation.

In the following guide, firstly you’ll see how the college basketball season works. Then you’ll see an overview of the different bets you can have throughout the season, starting with Futures bets, moving onto the day-to-day action.


College Basketball Betting – The Season

College Basketball teams play in many different conferences across the US. Throughout the season, teams will play a set number of games against teams in their own conference, as well as some other games against teams from other conferences. At the end of the season, the conference championships take place, a knockout tournament with seeding based on the conference record. All of the conference champions (32) will take their place in the National Championships, as well as 36 teams who will receive an ‘at large bid’ as chosen by a selection committee. These 68 teams will play a single-elimination competition, known as March Madness, one of the highlights of the US Sporting year.


College Basketball Betting – Types of Bets


Many Sportsbooks will offer odds on the eventual winner of March Madness. This betting will be available from the very start of the season, but will become more intense as the season comes to an end. When the 68 teams are named on Selection Sunday, this market will be at its busiest. Betting on the outright champion will be available right up to the final game.


Individual Game Betting – The Points Spread

The point spread bet is a bet designed to give both sides of the bet an equal chance. The sportsbook achieves this by designating one team a favorite and giving them a point handicap. Here is an example:

Clemson             +9.5    -110

Duke                     -9.5    -110

In this game Duke are considered 9.5 points favorites, so a $110 wager on Duke will win you $100 of they win by 10 points or more. A $110 bet on Clemson will see you make a profit of $100 if they either win or lose by less than 9.

On some occasions the point spread will be a whole number. If the favorite wins by exactly this number, the bet will be considered a push, and no money will change hands between the sportsbook and the bettor.


Individual Game Betting – Totals

Totals bets are becoming more popular in college hoops, as more sites offer this bet. The sportsbook will offer a line, and you have to predict whether the total points in the game will be above or below that line. Here is an example:

Over 143.5      -110

Under 143.5   -110

Once again, for both of these bets you’ll have to wager $110 to win $100 (somewhat of an industry standard).


Individual Game Betting – Money Line

The money line is simply a bet on which team will win the game, with no points added or taken away. Here is an example:

Clemson                   +450

Duke                         -600

Here, as Duke are strong favorites, you’ll have to wager $600 to win just $100, conversely, a bet on Clemson for $100 will see you profit to the tune of $450.

In all of the above individual game markets (point spread, totals and money line) you don’t have to bet the amount listed, you can bet much lower or even higher, and the Sportsbook will pay you out on a pro rata basis. If you want to wager just $5, don’t be put off by the betting normally suggesting bets in terms of hundreds of dollars.


Individual Game Betting – Parlays

With many games taking place on any given day, many sports bettors like to play parlays. Parlays are bets across multiple games where each leg of the bet has to win. The most popular parlays are played on the point spread or the money line with players picking two or more teams simply to win. The stake and profit from each leg is staked entirely onto the next leg, and this can lead to big profits for relatively small stakes. However with each leg the bet becomes tougher and the sportsbook will take more juice. A good bet with a small bankroll perhaps, but many good gamblers consider parlays to be a bad value bet.


Individual Game Betting – Teasers

Teasers are multiple bets where the line is moved slightly in your favor for each leg. If the line on a game is -8, it may be moved to -4 giving you an edge. The sportsbook will give you set odds on picking a number of teasers correctly. Like a parlay, all legs have to win, however as the line is moved in your favor, you’ll receive less payout than on a standard parlay.