How to Bet on College Basketball

Like most sports, college basketball has quite a large betting scene that continues to grow with every passing year. However, that also means that more and more people are becoming interested in it, often without really knowing what they are supposed to be doing. If you do not know how to bet on college basketball, you can end up losing more money than you were willing to spend, so here is a quick breakdown of how the basics work.


Odds are the chance of something actually happening – in this case, the chance of your bet being successful. In most cases, college basketball odds will be presented as picks, which are either a plus sign or minus sign followed by a number. Understanding these is key to comparing your options and making a choice that you are confident with.

Plus Odds

A number like +200 means that the team you are betting on is an underdog with a lower chance of winning. The plus means that the number after it is your potential winnings for every $100 you bet: in this example, +200 really means “$100 bet + $200 winnings”.

This number can be as high or as low as the bookie sets it, but it always scales relative to the $100 mark. If you bet $200 on +200 odds and won, you would get $400 back.

Minus Odds

Minus odds are the exact opposite, although they are used in a very similar way. -200 means that you would need to bet $200 to get $100 winnings, so placing a bet of $100 would actually only get you $50 winnings. These usually apply to popular teams with a high chance of winning.

Once again, the number scales, so betting $400 on a -200 wager would give you $200 as winnings.


Spreads are used as a balancing method between different teams and are meant to change the overall focus of the bet if you opt into them. Rather than just being a binary “win/lose” wager, you are instead given a margin that is either for or against your team.

For example, a margin of -25 points would mean that your team needs to win by an extra 25 points or more for your bet to succeed. If they won the game with a 22 point lead, it would not count because they ended up inside the margin of error.

A margin of +25 means the exact opposite – a team can be 25 points down, and your bet still counts since you have that extra 25 points as a margin of error to work with. Generally, both teams have opposite margins, so Team A would have +25 while Team B would have -25.

If the winning team wins exactly on the margin (i.e., being 25 points ahead on a +25 wager), then it is considered a “push,” and all bets are fully refunded.


Moneyline bets are incredibly simple and quite rare among most sports events since they are often kept exclusively for very close games. You are not betting on points, just the outcome: the favorite will still have a more likely bet and slimmer profits if they win, but there is no more need for any kind of point margin.

Moneyline bets are incredibly rare for games where there is a huge difference between teams, so you only ever really see them, when it is nearly impossible to predict who is going to win.

Other bet types

You do not need much to know how to bet on college basketball. That being said, there are other bet types, like the Over/Under bets (which are based on the total points scored in a game) and Parlays (which involve two or more results that have to both succeed or the bet is lost). Not all of them will be available all the time, and some are much less reliable than others.

Exploring these other options is a good idea, as is looking into things like handicappers and safe betting strategies. You really can’t have too much protection when you first start betting because it is very easy to fall into a cycle of trying to reclaim your losses with risky bets. Be careful, do your research, and make sure that you understand the bets you are making before you put too much money down on them.