The 2020/21 NCAA college basketball season start date was pushed to Nov. 25, but there will be a season for sure.
Regardless of a global pandemic, it’s a long haul from the season-opening tourneys to the grind of the conference schedule to the regular-season wrap-up in March. After playing up to 31 regular-season games, the 32 conferences play for automatic tournament bids while 36 teams hope they’ve done enough to earn an at-large NCAA Tournament invite.
When the field for the tourney is finally announced on Selection Sunday, March Madness betting takes off in earnest when the play-in games hit on Tuesday and doesn’t stop until the Final Four is in the books.
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 including live NCAAB odds from legal online sportsbooks in multiple states.
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. The list of sportsbooks currently open is always expanding. Most of the apps are compatible with iOS and Android.
Use DraftKings Sportsbook online in: NJ, CO, PA, WV, IN, IA, TN, NH and IL
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:
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 on all Division 1 CBB teams. Check the current lines at DraftKings Sportsbook and claim your welcome bonus via the link below:
Use FanDuel Sportsbook online in: NJ, CO, PA, WV, NV, IL, IA, TN and IN
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:
As soon as the season begins you’ll find real-time NCAA basketball odds at legal US online sportsbooks below. Use the drop-down menus to change between states and see point spread, moneyline or totals boards.
Click directly on any set of odds to claim your bonus and register a new sports betting account. If you don’t see the program you want to bet on, check our full NCAAB odds board here.
The odds to win the title will fluctuate over the course of the season. Here’s a look at the current National Championship odds (and Final Four odds) for the Top 15 at US online sportsbooks:
When looking at a futures bet for the 2020-21 national champion, keep in mind:
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.
After the full tournament field is announced in March, the “madness” begins two days later with play-in games, culminating with the national championship game. Here are the key dates and venues for March Madness 2021:
Check our full guide to March Madness 2021 including live odds, free bracket contests, betting systems and an interactive March madness betting bracket here:
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.
There are two national polls, USA Today and The Associated Press (AP), which are updated weekly during the college basketball season. Check the current AP Top 25, updated every Monday throughout the season. Here how the top 25 look(ed) to begin the season:
|8||Illinois||Fighting Illini||Big Ten
|9||Duke||Blue Devils||Atlantic Coast
|13||Michigan State||Spartans||Big Ten
|14||Texas Tech||Red Raiders||Big 12
|15||West Virginia||Mountaineers||Big 12
|16||North Carolina||Tar Heels||Atlantic Coast
|18||Arizona State||Sun Devils||Pacific 12
|21||Florida State||Seminoles||Atlantic Coast
|23||Ohio State||Buckeyes||Big Ten
|24||Rutgers||Scarlet Knights||Big Ten
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 14: Field of 68 announced
March 16: Tournament begins
April 3: National semifinals
April 5: National championship
Betting apps and online sportsbooks offer several key advantages over retail sportsbooks:
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: