bestodds logo

College Basketball Point Spreads


Malcolm Darnley

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

  • DraftKings logo
    Claim Bet $5 Get $200 Instantly
    Claim Now21+ to wager. Please Gamble Responsibly. Gambling problem? Call 800-GAMBLER, 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY), 800-327-5050 (MA), 800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 800-BETS-OFF (IA), 800-270-7117(MI), 877-718-5543 (NC).

Did you know there are 350 NCAA Division-1 college basketball teams?

When you have 350 schools in the same league, you are going to have a huge variance of skill and talent level amongst those teams.

The 350 teams play somewhere close to 5,800 – 6,000 games each season and oddsmakers create point spreads for all of those games.

We analyzed 73,000 individual games dating back to 2003, just to get an understanding of how good oddsmakers are at setting point spreads in college basketball.

We shared our research below and stumbled across some very interesting stats along the way.

NCAAB Games With Point-Spreads Between 0 – 30 PTS

In our graph above, the blue line represents underdogs and how often they cover the spread.Our graph only includes games from 0 to +30 point spreads.

The important takeaway from the blue line in our graph is that underdogs cover at a rate of 50% across all point spread totals.

This tells us that oddsmakers are extremely good at accurately setting spreads in college basketball, never having either a favorite or underdog cover at a rate significantly above 50%.

The orange line in the graph above shows us that a basic strategy of blindly betting only underdogs at all point spread totals would have a negative ROI once you factor in the juice or vig.

Our very first takeaway from this exercise is that oddsmakers are extremely good at setting NCAAB point spreads, especially at games where the spread falls between zero and thirty points.

NCAA Basketball Games With Point-Spreads Above +30 Points

Let’s look at how oddsmakers do when they are setting odds for games with more than a 30+ point spread.

The above graph is the one that makes us sit up in our seat because, for the first time, we have lines on a graph that run North and South instead of always going East and West.

In our case, this signals a potential opportunity for sports bettors, so let’s dive in.

You will see in our graph above that it’s not until we reach +35.5 point spreads with underdogs do we actually get to a financial break-even point or an ROI of 0%.

However, what happens after that +35.5 point spread is truly very interesting.

This graph represents the profit (or lack thereof) for a $100 a game bettor, if they were only to bet on underdogs with point spreads at +30 points or higher, dating back until 2003.

As mentioned above, it isn’t until we get to the +35.5 point spread where a gambler hits the break-even point. However, you can see from there, the graph continues to climb and peaks at the +39.5

This graph tells us that oddsmakers have struggled setting odds for those truly David vs Goliath games, where point spreads are getting to +39.5 or above.

College Basketball Games With +39.5 Point Spreads & Above

Let’s look at the data when we are betting Underdogs at +39.5 or higher Point Spreads

YearTotal GamesOverall RecordTotal ROI
2003 – Present6142-1931%
Just 2021107-353%

Our table above shows us that since 2003 there were 61 games that had a point spread of +39.5 or higher.

That means if a $100 / game bettor had wagered on all 61 of those opportunities ($6,100 in play), they would have covered the spread 69% of the time, made a profit of $1,918, which is an ROI of 31%

If there is reason to be optimistic about this college basketball betting strategy, it’s because there continue to be more of these games occurring each year.

Our graph above shows that in 2003 there were only two games played with a +35 or more point spread. We are projecting more than 20 of these games to occur each year moving forward.

If this +39.5 college basketball betting strategy provided a 15-20 game opportunity each year, that means a $100 bettor could expect $400 in profit annually if the 31% ROI trend continued.

NCAA Basketball Point Spreads

Cards on the table, when we started this project we thought for sure we would see some point spread variance much earlier than at the +39.5 point range.

Oddsmakers truly are good at what they do when we are talking about setting point spreads for 350 D-1 college teams.

61 games is not a large enough sample size for us to recommend blindly betting all crazy spread underdogs.

But 61 games and a 69% cover rate is enough of a sample size for us to continue monitoring this trend.

Games with point spreads that range into the +40 territory are few and far between, but next time you see one, take note of it and maybe it’s worth a play just to test it out.


About the author

Malcolm loves to watch all kinds of different sports. He also writes about them.