College Basketball Betting Guide 2019-20

The NCAA college basketball season tipped off Nov. 5 for 351 Division 1 men’s basketball programs.

It’s a long haul from the holiday tournaments in Nov/Dec to the grind of the conference schedule in Jan/Feb 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.

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Best betting apps for college basketball lines

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.

1. DraftKings Sportsbook App – $25 Free

DraftKings Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV, IN, NH, IA  

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:

  • Game Lines
  • Halves
  • Team Futures
  • Player Futures
  • Game Props
  • Team Props

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:

2. FanDuel Sportsbook App – $500 risk-free bet

FanDuel Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV 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:

Legal Sports Betting Apps

For further insight into all of your college basketball betting options in legal states, see our pages below:

Betting NCAA online vs. retail sportsbooks

Betting apps and online sportsbooks offer several key advantages over retail sportsbooks:

  • Convenience: Sports betting apps let you place bets from wherever you are within a legal state’s borders. As long as you confirm your location, you’re free to wager real money.
  • Sign-up bonuses: Most sportsbooks offer some form of a bonus for new customers. If your state has multiple sports betting apps, you can sign up and qualify to receive a bonus for each one.
  • Multiple sports and betting options: Apps allow you to choose a variety of US and global sports properties, including college basketball, with a multitude of sports and sport-specific betting options available at your fingertips.
  • Live, in-play wagering: You can place bets on your phone while the college basketball game is in progress. From the first half to halftime to the second half via point spreads, moneylines and totals wagers. Odds and pricing adjust in real-time with the ebb and flow of game action and scoring.
  • Finding the right price: Sports betting apps provide the flexibility to find the right price within a few taps. In New Jersey, for example, without mobile sports betting accounts, it would not be feasible to compare the pricing on a specific game at every Atlantic City sportsbook. However, using these apps, you can review all the prices and place bets from anywhere.
  • Stats and research resources: In addition to the convenience, sports betting apps, such as the DraftKings Sportsbook app, offer a useful stats portal, which provides a game preview, the statistics and betting trends.

NCAA basketball futures 2019-20

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.

To win the national championship

The odds to win the title will fluctuate over the course of the season. Here’s a look at the current National Championship odds on DraftKings and FanDuel:

NCAA Title Odds

Kansas
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+600
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+600
Gonzaga
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+800
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+900
Baylor
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+1100
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+1100
Dayton
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+1150
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+1300
Michigan State
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+1500
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+1500
Kentucky
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+1500
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+160
San Diego State
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+1500
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+2000
Florida St.
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+1500
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+1700
Maryland
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+1600
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+1900
Villanova
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+1700
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+2500
Duke
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+1800
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+1700
Creighton
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+2000
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+3000
Louisville
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+2000
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+2200
Auburn
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+3000
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+2800
Oregon
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+3000
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+2200
Michigan
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+3000
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+3200
Penn State
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+3000
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+4500
Arizona
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+4000
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+4500
Ohio St.
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+4000
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+3200
West Virginia
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+4000
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+4500

When looking at a futures bet for the 2019-20 national champion, keep in mind:

  • It’s been 23 years since any school west of Lawrence, Kansas, has won the title.
  • The eastern time zone has produced 21 of the past 22 national titles.
  • The West has had only three champions in the 44 years since John Wooden retired.
  • It’s been 13 years since a team repeated as national champion.
  • For that matter, Florida is the only team to do it in more than a quarter-century.
  • Duke has a home-court winning streak against non-conference teams of 147 and counting, back to 2000.

See current NCAA futures and claim your $25 bonus at DraftKings

What other college basketball bets can I make?

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
  • Point spreads
  • Game points totals, aka over/unders
  • Game props (e.g., point totals odd/even)
  • Team Futures (e.g., to win the Pac 12, to make the Final Four or win the national championship)
  • Player Futures (Wooden Award winner)
  • Team props (e.g., total season wins)

Moneyline bets, point spreads and over/under totals can also typically be built into multi-leg parlays and/or round robins.

NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament (March Madness)

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

Check our full guide to March Madness 2020 including live odds, free bracket contests, betting systems and an interactive March madness betting bracket here:

5 essential college basketball betting tips

  1. Narrow your focus and do your research: Since there are 351 Division 1 college basketball teams, you need to select a conference or region and then build out your focus. There are games on the schedule seven days a week, so don’t overload yourself and try to play every game every day.
  2. Become a local newshound: Once you have identified your area of focus, build your base with local news outlets. For example, create a Twitter list to include the area school’s account, local news beat writers, student newspapers and local TV and radio stations. You will learn a variety of tips and news throughout the season from these sources.
  3. Research and take advantage of free info: The flip side of having 351 teams also means many excellent research and data resources are available, including ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports. Also, there are summary, stat and trend sheets widely available online and useful stats from the NCAA website and Sports Reference.
  4. Watch the games and read the box scores: This tip is blatantly obvious, yet vital. Watch the games (live, or on replay or detailed summary highlights) and then form your visual opinion. Understand the box scores to identify first-half and second-half trends, player minutes, 3-point shooting and rebounding advantages. Additionally, forming an opinion on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the teams and conferences as the season builds. That way, if seven teams go to the Big Ten, you can offer your opinion as to whether the conference is relatively “strong” or “weak” as the season progresses and into the NCAA Tournament.
  5. Identify ‘trap’ and ‘revenge’ games: “Trap games” involve a situation where a team is looking toward a future opponent and looking past their opponent on a given night. If Michigan State is locked in on a big conference matchup on Saturday at Michigan, they may not put in the optimal effort against Northwestern on Wednesday. “Revenge games” can also offer an excellent betting angle. They could be in the form of a conference matchup where a team loses on the road but then has the chance to avenge that defeat later in the season on their home court. It could also involve a holdover from a tough loss the previous season, where bad blood is still boiling. A hard foul or the perception that the other team “ran up the score” in the second half can all carryover as motivation into the game. So, this is another reason to keep apprised of your local news sources for these types of storylines.

How to “Squeeze the Lemon” in College Basketball

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.

How to shop for college basketball (CBB) lines

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.

Opening USA Today, AP polls for 2019-20

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:

  1. Michigan State
  2. Kentucky
  3. Kansas
  4. Duke
  5. Louisville

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:

Michigan State

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

Kentucky

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

Kansas

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

Duke

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

Key NCAA players to watch for 2019-20

According to Fox Sports, these are the key players to watch during the 2019-20 NCAA basketball season:

  • Vernon Carey Jr., Freshman, Center, Duke: The son of former NFL offensive lineman Vernon Carey comes into Durham with an NBA-ready body (6 foot, 10 inches, 270 pounds) and the offensive game to dominate inside.
  • Tre Jones, Sophomore, Point Guard, Duke: Took a backseat to Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett last year but expect Jones to emerge as one of the best point guards in the country, though he must improve on his 26% 3-point shooting.
  • Sam Merrill, Senior, Guard, Utah State: One of the best guards nobody talks about, Merrill shot 52/36/90, averaged 20.9 PPG, and is the reigning Mountain West Player of the Year.
  • Udoka Azubuike, Senior, Center, Kansas: Only played nine games last year due to an ankle injury and wrist surgery, but the Jayhawks were undefeated with him and his 13.4 PPG and 6.8 RPG.
  • Payton Pritchard, Senior, Point Guard, Oregon: This four-year starter is one of the best leaders in the country, and despite modest stats, 12.9 PPG, 4.6 APG, he’ll get first-team, All-American consideration.
  • Myles Powell, Senior, Shooting Guard, Seton Hall: One of the best pure scorers in the country, he averaged 23.1 PPG and shot 44/36/84 while leading the Pirates to the NCAA Tournament.
  • Cassius Winston, Senior, Point Guard, Michigan State: Won Big Ten Player of the Year honors and averaged 18.8 PPG and 7.5 APG in leading the Spartans to the Final Four.
  • Cole Anthony, Freshman, Point Guard, UNC: Cole is the son of a former University of Nevada, Las Vegas, star Greg Anthony. At 6-foot, 3-inches tall, the 19-year-old was a McDonald’s All-American and a five-star recruit. He’s a leading candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

Top recruiting classes for 2019-20

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:

  • #1. Memphis
  • #2. Kentucky
  • #3. Duke
  • #4. Oregon
  • #5. Villanova
  • #22. West Virginia
  • #33. Syracuse
  • #42. Ole Miss
  • #49. Pitt

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:

  • Cincinnati: Mick Cronin out, John Brannen in.
  • UCLA: Steve Alford out, Mick Cronin in.
  • Michigan: John Beilein out, Juwan Howard in.
  • Nebraska: Tim Miles out, Fred Hoiberg in.
  • Nevada: Eric Musselman out, Steve Alford in.
  • Saint Joseph’s: Phil Martelli out, Billy Lange in.
  • St. John’s: Chris Mullin out, Mike Anderson in.
  • Temple Owls: Fran Dunphy out, Aaron McKie in.

NCAA basketball betting: Best rivalry games in 2019-20

  • Duke versus North Carolina (at UNC Feb. 8, at Duke on March 7)
  • Indiana versus Purdue (at IU Feb. 8, at Purdue on Feb. 27)
  • Georgetown versus Villanova (at Villanova on Jan. 11, at Georgetown on March 7)
  • Oregon versus Oregon State (Feb. 8 at OSU; Feb. 27 at Oregon)

Just a reminder that you can bet all these games via the legal safe betting sites in your state.

2019-20 NCAA Basketball rules changes

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).

NCAA men’s basketball schedule

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

NCAA 2018-19 recap

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).

NCAA College Basketball Betting FAQ

Which team/university has won the most NCAA championships?

UCLA has won 11, and Kentucky has won eight.

Which team/university has the most Final Four appearances?

North Carolina has appeared in 20 Final Fours, and Kentucky and UCLA both have made 17.

How much is bet on college basketball every year?

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.

 

Who picks the teams for the NCAA Tournament?

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:

  • Mitch Barnhart, director of athletics, University of Kentucky
  • Tom Burnett, commissioner, Southland Conference
  • Janet Cone, director of athletics, University of North Carolina Asheville
  • Bernadette McGlade, commissioner, Atlantic 10 Conference
  • Michael O’Brien, vice president and director of athletics, University of Toledo
  • Jim Phillips, vice president for athletics and recreation, Northwestern University
  • Chris Reynolds, vice president for intercollegiate athletics, Bradley University
  • Craig Thompson, commissioner, Mountain West Conference
  • Kevin White, director of athletics, Duke University

Who sets the NCAA betting lines?

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.

What’s the difference between Vegas NCAA lines and other lines?

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.

What are the second-half NCAA 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.

Why can I not bet on NJ NCAA teams?

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).

Are there any restrictions on college basketball betting in the US?

In terms of placing bets on college basketball, here’s a summary of restrictions for each legal state:

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