The NCAA college basketball season tipped off Nov. 5 for 351 Division 1 men’s basketball programs.
It’s a long journey from the holiday tournaments in November and December to the grind of the conference schedule in January and February to the regular-season wrap-up in March. After playing up to 31 regular-season games, the 32 conferences play toward the championships with automatic tournament bids, while 36 teams hope they’ve done enough to earn an NCAA Tournament invite.
The field for the tourney will be announced Sunday, March 15, and March Madness begins with play-in games on Tuesday, March 17.
How can you bet on college basketball games in the US along the way? Here’s your complete guide to legal online college basketball betting in the US.
With online sportsbooks now operating in several states (and the list of legalized sports betting states growing), you can access a full slate of NCAA basketball games every day in those states.
Bettors in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia can all currently access multiple online sportsbooks. The list of sportsbooks currently open is always expanding but at least two sportsbooks are open across all 4 states.
Both have mobile apps for iOS and Android that are fully downloadable alongside its core online sportsbook.
Originally (and still) a major player in daily fantasy sports, DraftKings has transitioned rather seamlessly into real money sports betting in legalized states with its online sportsbook and betting app. The DraftKings sportsbook has a huge lineup of pro leagues, international sports and, specifically, college basketball to bet on. Under the College Basketball tab you’ll find betting options for:
Outside of any legal restrictions on betting on college basketball in particular states (for example New Jersey), you’ll find a full slate of daily lines, props and futures on all Division 1 CBB teams. Check the current lines at DraftKings Sportsbook and claim your welcome bonus via the link below:
Similarly, FanDuel also got its start as a Daily Fantasy Sports powerhouse and transitioned into real money sports betting in the US as individual states legislated.
The list of sports betting markets (sports offered) is comparable to DraftKings and you’ll find dozens of options for betting on pro sports, international leagues, player futures and props and, of course, college basketball.
You’ll find FanDuel’s college basketball betting menu under the heading “CBB” on both the online sportsbook and the betting app. Check the full slate of college basketball lines & futures at FanDuel via the link below:
For further insight into all of your college basketball betting options in legal states, see our pages below:
Betting apps and online sportsbooks offer several key advantages over retail sportsbooks:
Here is the stats preview for the DePaul-Iowa game, which was held earlier in November:
Also, there is a drop-down menu to analyze the historical season performance. Below, shows the over/under results for DePaul (on the left) and Iowa (on the right) from the 2018-19 season:
Compared to the full range of NBA betting options, college hoops offers fewer betting options for game props. For example, there aren’t any line and total parlays or a race to 20 points. Player props (e.g., player to score the first basket, player total points/rebounds/assists over/unders and player performance doubles) are also minimal.
However, there are the core bet types, including spreads, moneylines and totals, and some simple game props like odd/even for total score. You can also bet on the prospective winner of the Wooden Award for Best Player.
Moneyline bets, point spreads and over/under totals can also typically be built into multi-leg parlays and/or round robins.
Note: College basketball betting lines change constantly over the course of the season. Always check your online sportsbook for the latest game and futures odds.
The odds to win the title will fluctuate over the course of the season. Here is a look at the odds in mid-January 2020 on DraftKings (legal state schools are bolded):
When looking at a futures bet for the 2019-20 national champion, keep in mind:
For individual team streaks, bettors should note:
While it’s certainly a tall task to win a national championship, just getting to the Final Four is a huge accomplishment. A bettor can sometimes find value in a school’s price to make it to “the big dance.”
Here are the odds for key schools to make the Final Four via DraftKings on Jan. 13, 2020 (legal state schools are bolded):
Before March Madness 2020 begins, the regular season is capped off by a conference tournament in March when a conference champion is crowned.
Odds for a conference-outright win are offered throughout the year via most sportsbooks including DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Some sportsbooks also offer the chance to wager under or over a posted win total. For example, SugarHouse was offering win total over/unders on a handful of schools prior to the start of the season:
There are two national polls, USA Today and The Associated Press (AP), which are updated weekly during the college basketball season. Both season-opening polls featured the same schools ranking in the top five:
Check the current AP Top 25, updated every Monday throughout the season. Here are some snapshots of the top-four ranked schools and others of note in the top 25:
Head Coach: Tom Izzo
2018-19 Record: 32-7 (16-4, first in the Big Ten)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost to Texas Tech in the national semifinals
Key Returners: Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Xavier Tillman, Aaron Henry, Kyle Ahrens
Key Losses: Nick Ward, Kenny Goins, Matt McQuaid
Key Newcomers: Rocket Watts, Malik Hall, Julius Marble
Head Coach: John Calipari
2018-19 Record: 30-7 (15-3, second in the SEC)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost to Auburn in the regional finals
Key Returners: Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards
Key Losses: PJ Washington (NBA), Tyler Herro (NBA), Keldon Johnson, Reid Travis
Key Newcomers: Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks, Johnny Juzang, Nate Sestina (Bucknell transfer), Dontaie Allen
Head Coach: Bill Self
2018-19 Record: 26-10 (12-6, third in the Big 12)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost to Auburn in the second round
Key Returners: Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike (injury), Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, David McCormack, Silvio De Sousa (suspension)
Key Losses: Dedric Lawson, Quentin Grimes (transferred to Houston), Lagerald Vick
Key Newcomers: Isaiah Moss (transferred from Iowa), Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna, Christian Braun, Isaac McBride
Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
2018-19 Record: 32-6 (14-4, third in the ACC)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost to Michigan State in the regional finals
Key Returners: Tre Jones, Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, Alex O’Connell
Key Losses: Zion Williamson (NBA), RJ Barrett (NBA), Cam Reddish (NBA), Marques Bolden
Key Newcomers: Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore, Cassius Stanley
Villanova (No. 10 in USA Today and AP)
Head Coach: Jay Wright
2018-19 Record: 26-10 (13-5, first in the Big East)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost to Purdue in the second round
Key Returners: Collin Gillespie, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Cole Swider
Key Losses: Eric Paschall (NBA), Phil Booth, Joe Cremo
Key Newcomers: Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Eric Dixon
Seton Hall (No. 13 USA Today, No. 12 AP)
Head Coach: Kevin Willard
2018-19 Record: 20-14 (9-9, third in the Big East)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost first round to Wofford
Key Returners: Myles Powell, Myles Cale, Quincy McKnight, Sandro Mamukelashvili
Key Losses: Michael Nzei
Key Newcomers: Ike Obiagu, Tyrese Samuel
Oregon (No. 14 USA Today, No. 15 AP)
Head Coach: Dana Altman
2018-19 Record: 25-13 (10-8, fourth in the Pac-12)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost to Virginia in the third round
Key Returners: Payton Pritchard, Francis Okoro, Will Richardson
Key Losses: Bol Bol (NBA), Louis King (NBA), Victor Bailey Jr. (transferred to Tennessee), Ehab Amin
Key Newcomers: Chris Duarte, Anthony Mathis, CJ Walker, Chandler Lawson, Shakur Juiston, N’Faly Dante
Purdue (No. 22 USA Today, No. 23 AP)
Head Coach: Matt Painter
2018-19 Record: 26-10 (16-4, first in the Big Ten)
2018-19 Postseason Finish: Lost to Virginia in the regional finals
Key Returners: Nojel Eastern, Matt Haarms, Trevion Williams, Aaron Wheeler, Evan Boudreaux, Eric Hunter, Sasha Stefanovic
Key Losses: Carsen Edwards (NBA), Ryan Cline, Grady Eifert
Key Newcomers: Jahaad Proctor (transferred from High Point), Brandon Newman, Mason Gillis, Isaiah Thompson
According to Fox Sports, these are the key players to watch during the 2019-20 NCAA basketball season:
There isn’t any sport with more year-to-year personnel changes than college basketball.
As current rules allow players to be eligible for the NBA after their freshman year, coupled with incoming freshman, graduating seniors and transfers/redshirts, it’s always essential to understand which schools are in the best positions for the upcoming season.
Per 24/7 Sports, here are some select schools identified as part of the top 50 2019-20 freshman recruiting classes:
Key coaching changes to note for 2019-20:
There were some significant coaching changes during the summer. It will be interesting to see how Mick Cronin’s slower tempo will impact the UCLA offense (and overall game scoring).
John Beilein left Michigan to coach NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, while Fred Hoiberg goes from the NBA’s Chicago Bulls to coach Nebraska.
A situation to watch is in Ann Arbor, where former NBA star and Michigan alum Juwan Howard is now the head coach. He added Phil Martelli as an assistant coach, who was fired by Saint Joseph’s after 24 years.
In Philadelphia, Temple Owls alum and former Sixers’ star Aaron McKie takes on his first head coaching job. Here’s a summary of the significant coaching changes:
Just a reminder that you can bet all these games via the legal safe betting sites in your state.
For the 2019-20 season, there is one significant rule change and other bits of information to note: The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved moving the 3-point line to the international basketball distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches for men’s basketball.
Good 3-point shooting teams should continue to be good 3-shooting teams, but it is something to monitor its impact on total scoring (and over/unders).
An NCAA selection committee will meet to decide which 68 schools will be part of March Madness. Of the 68 schools, 32 qualify automatically by winning their conference tournament; the other 36 “at-large” schools are selected by the committee.
November-December: Thanksgiving and holiday tournaments, non-conference games and select conference games
January-February: Conference schedules
March 8: End of the regular season
March 9-15: Conference tournaments
March 15: Field of 68 announced
March 17: Tournament begins
April 4: National semifinals
April 6: National championship
After the full tournament field is announced on March 15, the “madness” begins two days later with play-in games, culminating with the national championship game on April 6 in Atlanta. Here are the key dates and venues for March Madness 2020:
March 17-18 First Four Dayton, OH
March 19-21 First and second rounds Albany, NY Spokane, WA St. Louis, MO Tampa, FL
March 20-22 First and second rounds Greensboro, NC Omaha, NE Sacramento, CA Cleveland, OH
March 26-28 Midwest Regional Indianapolis
March 26-28 West Regional Los Angeles
March 27-29 South Regional Houston
March 27-29 East Regional New York
April 4-6 Final Four Atlanta
The Virginia Cavaliers came full circle to win the NCAA National Championship in 2018-19 and avenge their 2017-18 first-round loss to No. 16 seed University of Maryland Baltimore County. The Cavaliers beat Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime. Last year’s Final Four consisted of No. 1 seed Virginia, No. 2 Michigan State as well as great tournament runs by lower-seeded Texas Tech (No. 3) and Auburn (No. 5).
One other situation to note is what is referred to as the “squeeze the lemon” angle. This is when a hard-fought game is played until to the final buzzer, or better yet, into overtime. Both teams will potentially be tired or vulnerable in their next match.
One example of this last year was on Jan. 12 when Duke traveled to Florida State and pulled out a last-second win. It was an emotional, hard-fought contest, with both teams gassed after putting out a maximum effort. Again, it helped to watch this game for perspective as both teams had to turn around and play on Jan. 14 with Duke losing outright as a 17-point favorite at home to Syracuse and Florida State losing by 13 points as a 5-point favorite at Pittsburgh.
All of these situations present themselves multiple times throughout every college basketball season; you just need to know when (and where) to look for them.
To shop for college basketball lines, you should track the lines for the games you are interested in by monitoring online sportsbooks in your legal gambling state. There will be variances across moneyline, spread and totals pricing which will give you opportunities to find better odds for the teams you want to bet on.
UCLA has won 11, and Kentucky has won eight.
North Carolina has appeared in 20 Final Fours, and Kentucky and UCLA both have made 17.
It’s difficult to put an exact number on this up to this year, as states are still in the process of opening up college basketball betting lines. If you look at overall statistics for just office/bracket pools for March Madness alone, according to an article on ESPN it is estimated over $10 billion is bet with just 3% of that done through legal sportsbooks.
A committee chairman oversees a panel of 10 who are responsible for selecting, seeding and bracketing the field for the NCAA Tournament. Their conference nominates each committee member.
Those who are selected will then serve five-year terms and represent a cross-section of the Division 1 membership. Currently, the chair of the committee is Bernard Muir, the director of athletics at Stanford.
The rest of the committee members are:
The process for setting NCAA basketball lines is like other pro and college sports. Essentially, casinos and bookmakers will attempt to try to set a line that balances the dollars being wagered on each side, so the casino has no principal risk. After the opening line is set, the line will then fluctuate as money comes in on either side of the bet.
A line may open as Virginia is a -5 favorite versus North Carolina. But if the public feels that North Carolina has a great chance to cover the spread (or even win the game outright), a majority of the money might come in at North Carolina +5 and balance out the line. Then, the book would adjust the line down, e.g., Virginia -4.5 or -4, to balance out the money totals.
For the reasons above, bookmakers must manage their specific market and liability circumstances. So, DraftKings could potentially have a different balance of money for a West Virginia-Indiana matchup compared to what William Hill is handling, which results in differing betting lines.
The second-half lines are typically set as part of the in-game betting offering. The line will be a stand-alone number for the second-half scoring, regardless of the final total score. A team may be trailing 42-28 at halftime. They outscore their opponent 36-30 in the second half to “win” the second half betting line but lose the game 72-65.
Betting on Rutgers, Monmouth, Seton Hall, Rider, Princeton or any other college team based in New Jersey is illegal under the state’s sports betting statute. Sportsbooks in New Jersey can’t offer games involving these teams, or any college games occurring within the Garden State (except for tournament play).
In terms of placing bets on college basketball, here’s a summary of restrictions for each legal state: