Want to throw down some money on NCAA Hoops?
Here's your guide to doing so.

Point Spread

The most popular wager placed on NCAA Basketball is via the point spread. A point spread is a type of bet which is used to create a balanced or fair wager between both sides. To win your bet, the stronger team (known as the “favorite”) must win by a certain number of points, and conversely, the weaker team (known as the “underdog”) can lose by the same number of points, or win the game outright.

Example: The Jayhawks are -3 Vs the Bulldogs. This means for the Jayhawks to cover the spread, they must win by 4 or more points. For the Bulldogs to cover the spread, they can lose by 2 points or less, or win the game outright.

  • Result: Jayhawks win by 5 - Jayhawks cover the spread
  • Result: Jayhawks win by 1 - The Bulldogs cover the spread
  • Result: Jayhawks win by 3 - Push - the bet is a tie and your wager is refunded


The moneyline bet might just be the easiest betting term to understand. Simply put, if you are betting on the moneyline, this means you believe that the team you wagered on will win the game. There are three possible results for a moneyline bet; your team wins and you win the bet, your team loses and you lose the bet, or the game ends in a tie and the bet is fully refunded to you. In basketball however there are no ties, so one team must win.

Unlike a point spread, the margin of victory in a money line wager is not important. 

Let’s assume you want to bet on the Jayhawks to win this game. You have the option of betting them to win outright (the margin of victory does not matter) at -145, or betting them to win via the point spread at -3 (must win by 4 or more points to win the bet). Obviously, It is more likely that Kansas were to win on the moneyline rather than forcing them to win by 4 points to cover the spread. This is why the odds for the moneyline (-145) is more expensive than the odds for the point spread (-110).

To win $100 on Kansas money line (-145) you must risk $145 

To win $100 on Gonzaga money line (+125) you would only need to risk $80

Totals (Over/Under)

A totals bet (also known as an over/under bet) refers to a wager where you are betting on the combined amount of points that are scored in a match. In this type of wager, the winning team and the point spread have no bearing.

Let’s use the following example:

The total for the Jayhawks vs. the Bulldogs game is listed at 140 – This means you can bet on whether you think the total score will be over 140 points or under 140 points. 

  • If the Jayhawks win 70 to 65 (a total of 135 points) the game went under
  • If the Jayhawks win 80 to 70 (a total of 150 points) the game went over
  • A push would occur if the final score totaled exactly 140 points.

Team Totals (Team Over/Under)

Can I bet on how many points an individual team will score?

Yes, this is also a very common type of totals bet; we refer to this as a “team total”. Here is an example of a team total: 

Based on the above example, you have the option of betting the Jayhawks over or under 72 points, and the Bulldogs over or under 69 points. Keep in mind, when betting on a team total, the opponent’s score is irrelevant. Also worth noting is the greater than average juice. Most total plays are offered at -110 on each side. However, when placing a wager on a team total, it is common for the sportsbook to increase this price to -115 or -120.

Player Props

What is an NCAA Basketball Prop Bet?

Prop bets are bets on the statistical performance of a player or a team. Prop bets are completely independent of traditional bets such as point spread, money line or totals.

The most common basketball prop bets include:

  • Player points
  • Player rebounds
  • Player assists
  • Player 3 point shots made

Futures Bets

NCAA Basketball futures bets allow you to bet on an outcome that will take place in the future. For example, you can bet on which team will win the National Championship. Here is an example from the 2020-21 season:

The better the team, the smaller the payout. We can see Kansas was 10/1 to win the title. That means for every $100 bet on them, you would win $1000.

A team like UCLA on the other hand were not likely to win. That's why they were offering odds of 50/1. This means if UCLA were to happen to win it all, for every $100 wagered, you would win $5,000.

NCAA Basketball Tips & Strategies

If you want to increase your chances of being a successful bettor, here are a few tips to help you on your way:

  • Price Shopping: When placing a bet, you always want to make sure you are getting the best price/line possible. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Different sportsbooks offer different prices; and they fluctuate throughout the day. If you want to save a ton of time, check out It's free to join, and all the line shopping is quickly and efficiently done for you. You get updates in real time of which sportsbooks are offering the best line.
  • Track Your Bets: Keep records of your wagers, and stay on top of what is working and not working for you. Without documenting your bets, it is difficult to see where you are winning or losing as a bettor.
  • Bankroll Management: Set your bankroll and learn to manage it properly. Don't deviate too far from your average bet size and ensure that you are always betting within your limits.

  • Injuries & Rest: Keep in mind that injuries play a huge factor in basketball games. Don’t rush to bet on a line that you think is too good to be true. Take your time and do some homework. Make sure that your team doesn't have any injuries that you are not aware of.
  • March Madness Tournament: The March Madness tournament is without a doubt the most popular part of the NCAA Basketball season. But how many bettors are making wagers on teams that they didn't watch play a single game all year? Or how many bettors can't name two players on a team they are betting on? Watching games can give you insight into specific teams. It also can give you a great feel of how a team is playing, and where you project them to go. Do not bet on teams that you haven't seen play. Be a knowledgeable bettor! Information is king; and you should gather as much as possible.

  • Specialize in a Specific Conference: There are currently 350 teams (across 32 divisions) in the NCAA Men's Division I basketball program. No one person can be considered an “expert” for every team or conference. A great strategy to combat this is to focus on one specific division. By watching the majority of games in one division, it can give you a leg up when making wagers. This is especially true for small market and small conference teams. The lesser known teams tend to be bet on less frequently, and in turn can offer a great advantage for knowledgeable bettors. The major conference and more popular teams field the opposite results. Larger conferences tend to have larger amounts of money regularly bet on them, making good lines less frequent.

Circles Off

If you are interested in more tips and strategies regarding March Madness, check out Episode 5 of Circles Off with betstamp co-founder, Johnny, and betstamp co-owner, Rob Pizzola.