NCAA Odds and Betting | How to Place Wagers

NCAA Odds & Betting

NCAA Odds and Betting

Following the legalization of sports betting in Ohio, it’s now possible to bet on professional and collegiate sports in the Buckeye State. 

Here, we explain everything you need to know about betting on the NCAA, from how collegiate odds work to the markets available. 

We cover all bases to ensure that you can get started with your NCAA betting slip today, and hopefully make money from backing your favorite school as they take to the field or court this season. 

Dayton Flyers forward Zimi Nwokeji drives to the basket during game against Lindenwood

How to bet on the NCAA 

Betting on the NCAA is almost the same as betting on professional sports; the same markets are available. Some of the most common bets to place on NCAA sports include: 

The moneyline 

Spread betting 

Totals betting (over/under) 

Prop betting

Parlay betting 

Futures betting

As you know, you can bet on many sports, divisions, and conferences in the NCAA, and your options are pretty much limitless. To help you, we’ve put together this handy NCAA odds & betting guide that is full of examples from collegiate basketball and football. 

But before we get into these examples, let’s take a closer look at how NCAA odds actually work, so you know how to place a bet on your chosen sport. 

How NCAA Odds and Betting works 

NCAA odds are almost always presented in the American format, but they may also be represented in the European (decimal) or British (fractional) format. 

However, as a US-based sports bettor, you only need to worry about the representation of American odds, as we explain here. 

You will see NCAA odds given as a positive or negative number. The positive number is given to the underdog, while the negative number is given to the favorite. 

The number itself is the odds given by the sportsbook. Negative odds indicate how much you need to bet to win a profit of $100, while positive odds show how much profit you can make from a $100 bet. 

Here’s a simple basketball example of NCAA odds and betting to show you what we mean: 

Cincinnati Bearcats (-150) vs. South Florida Bulls (+180) 

The Bearcats are favorites to beat the Bulls, as we can see by their negative odds. If you agree, you would need to bet $150 to win a profit of $100. If you fancy the Bulls for an upset, a $100 bet returns $180. 

Simple enough, right? Now that you know the basics let’s take a closer look at NCAA markets so you can back your school to victory this season.

Popular NCAA bets explained

The moneyline

The moneyline is the simplest sports betting market and is the easiest way to bet on college sports. Your only job is to decide which team you think will win the game. 

One thing to be mindful of with NCAA odds & betting is that teams are not evenly matched, and some schools are far superior to others. This can often create vastly different odds in an NCAA moneyline bet, which is important to consider. 

Let’s take a look at an NCAA basketball moneyline bet example to show you what we mean: 

Dayton Flyers (-180) vs. Fordham Rams (+170) 

Here, the Dayton Flyers are favored to win their upcoming fixture against the Fordham Rams. We know this because they have been given negative odds by the sportsbook, while the Rams have positive odds. 

If you agree with the sportsbook and think the Flyers will win, a $180 bet would return $100 in profit. Conversely, if you fancy the Rams for the upset, a $100 bet would return a profit of $170. 

While betting the moneyline is a great way to get started with betting on college sports, you can experiment with some of the following NCAA odds & betting types.

Spread betting

Spread betting is a form of handicap betting that somewhat levels the playing field when looking at NCAA odds and betting. As mentioned, the gulf in class between some schools in college sports is huge, so spread betting is a great way to bring the teams closer together. 

In a spread betting scenario, the sportsbook gives the favorites a handicap while providing the underdog with a headstart. Again, your job is to decide which team you think will win the fixture, but you also need to consider the handicap or headstart. 

Here’s an NCAA football example to show you what we mean: 

Cincinnati Bearcats -5.5 (-120) vs. Memphis Tigers +5.5 (+140) 

Here, the Bearcats are the favorites to defeat the Tigers in the upcoming fixture. So much so that the sportsbook is offering the Tigers a 5.5-point headstart and still thinks the Bearcats will win the match. 

So, if you fancy the Bearcats to win this match and back the spread, they would need to win by at least six points for your bet to come in. 

Conversely, if you think that the Tigers are capable of an upset, provided they don’t lose by more than five points, you would still win your bet. 

Totals betting (over/under)

Another extremely popular way to bet on the NCAA is to place a totals bet. In a totals bet, you don’t need to worry about which school wins the fixture; your only concern is how many points will be scored in the match. 

It also doesn’t matter which team or players score the points; your only job is to decide whether more or fewer points than the totals line set by the sportsbook will be scored. Here’s an NCAA basketball example to show you what we mean: 

Xavier Musketeers vs. Seton Hall Pirates OU: 131.5 

Over -110 

Under -110

In this Big East Conference game between Xavier and Seton Hall, the sportsbook has set the points total at 131.5. If the game finishes 72-52 in favor of the Musketeers, it would mean that a total of 124 points were scored in the fixture, below the 131.5 totals line set by the book.

In this case, a bet on the under would win, while a bet on the over would lose. The sportsbook often sets a half-point totals line to avoid the push bet, as it’s impossible for a game to finish with exactly 131.5 points, and the resultant score must be over or under the number. 

Prop betting

Prop betting is a big deal in professional sports and a great way to bet on collegiate events. Prop betting is particularly prominent during big tournaments like basketball’s March Madness, which allows you to place bets at a much higher intensity than normal. 

For instance, some of the March Madness prop bets you could place include: 

Region winner 

Big East team to reach the Sweet Sixteen? 

Head-to-head props 

In-game props relating to the action on the court 

There are lots of team and player props that you can place on a range of different teams, so be sure to check the sportsbook’s listings, particularly before the start of tournaments like the super popular March Madness.

Parlay betting

Parlay betting is a great way to improve your odds as you can add multiple outcomes to your betting slip. Parlay betting is also known as an accumulator, and all your selections need to come in for your bet to win. 

While there are lots of different types of parlay bets you can place on college sports, the most common is where you bring several moneylines together into the same bet. Here’s what an NCAA football moneyline might look like: 

Ohio State Buckeyes, Indiana Hoosiers, and Wisconsin Badgers to win (+630)

When you bring several teams together in a parlay, your odds will reflect the likelihood of all of them winning their fixtures. If you pick schools that are toward the bottom of the standings, you will get much longer odds. 

But remember, if just one of the teams in your selections lets you down, your entire bet is bust. So, while parlay betting is fun, it pays to do your research beforehand. 

Futures betting

Another great way to bet on college sports is to place wagers on what you think will happen in the future. As you might expect, these are aptly known as futures bets. 

In NCAA basketball, for instance, you can bet on who you think will win the National Championship at the end of the season. You can also pick a winner for each conference and division if you have a pretty good feeling about the squad your school has assembled. 

The best thing about futures betting is that you’re typically given attractive odds at the start of the college season, so it’s an excellent way of building value into your betting strategy.

Ready to Start With NCAA Odds and Betting?

Now you have read about the types of bets and markets, you’re ready to begin placing wagers on NCAA sports. Make sure you do your research and you will have a fair chance of returning a profit.