College Basketball Point Spread Betting

Malcolm Darnley

Updated: Mar 1, 2024

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When we are betting on NCAA Basketball teams to cover a point spread, we don’t necessarily need to identify the best teams in the country.

Covering a point spread and being an elite-level team do not always go hand in hand.

2022-23 Best Teams ATS

Teams2022-23 ATSATS %Tourn. Results
Utah Valley25-973.5%Didn’t Make Tourn.
Connecticut27-11-171.1%**National Champions
E. Kentucky23-10-169.7%Didn’t Make Tourn.
Fla Atlantic25-11-169.4%**Lost In Final Four
CS Fullerton20-9-269%Didn’t Make Tourn.

In our table above, we have identified the five best teams at covering the point spread during the 2022-23 season.

Interestingly, two of the five teams made it to the Final Four, and the UConn Huskies were eventually crowned National Champions.

Meanwhile, the other three best teams in the country at covering the spread weren’t invited to the March Madness tournament.

This tells us that identifying great teams could be an advantage, but there is also lots of point-spread value for bettors with some of the lesser-known schools.

For everything you need to know on how to bet NCAAB point spreads effectively, we have you covered below.

What Is NCAAB Spread Betting?

The most popular form of betting for college or NBA basketball has been picking teams to cover the spread.

There are similarities and differences between point-spread betting with the NBA and CBB.

A point spread is simply a number the sportsbook sets to make a game more equal from a betting standpoint.

Let’s look at an example:

Arizona St vs Colorado

TeamsPoint Spread
Arizona State+14.5
Colorado-14.5

In our example game above, the sportsbook set the spread at 14.5 points.

We know that Arizona State is the underdog because there is a (+) plus sign in front of the 14.5 points for them.

As a bettor, if you take Arizona State plus the +14.5 points, that means they can lose by up to 14 points and still be considered the winner of the game.

Of course, if they win the game outright, that counts as well.

If you want to bet on Colorado, a bettor is asked “to lay” -14.5 points.

For Colorado to cover the spread, they would have to win the game by at least 15 points or more.

There are over 300 D-I college basketball teams.

The difference in skill sets between elite and bottom-level college basketball teams is far greater than the difference between elite and bottom-level NBA teams.

As bettors, large point spreads are far more common in NCAA hoops compared to NBA games.

Why Bet NCAAB Point Spreads?

There are always reasons why a bettor would want to make a play on an NCAAB point spread.

Sometimes, we are just passionate fans of a specific team, and a wager on a point spread can provide us with an entertaining evening.

Some bettors believe that college basketball gives us the most significant opportunity against the sportsbooks of all the major sports available for us to bet on.

There are over 300+ D-I college basketball teams every year.

Sportsbooks have limited time and resources to set point spreads for all teams and games accurately.

As with any business, a sportsbook will focus the majority of its time and effort on setting lines for games that attract the most business and generate the most profit.

This is where an opportunity exists for savvy bettors willing to invest time into handicapping some of the lesser-known conferences and schools.

How Do NCAAB Odds Work?

Betting on College Basketball Point Spreads is a straightforward wager that most bettors pick up quickly.

NCAA Spread Betting

TeamsPoint SpreadMoneyline
Arizona-5.5-102
Utah+5.5-118

There are two important numbers a bettor must become familiar with. The first is the actual point spread itself.

In the case of our Arizona vs Utah example above, the point spread is 5.5 points. We see Arizona (-5.5) is the betting favorite.

The other important number is the moneyline associated with each spread bet.

Most spreads have a moneyline close to -110.

However, that is not always the case.

In our example above, if a bettor wanted to take Utah +5.5 points, they would have to pay a little more on the moneyline to make that bet. Instead of -110, that ML is -118.

Overall Records vs ATS Records

Good teams win basketball games, and great teams cover the spread.

At least, that is the expression veteran bettors like to toss around when evaluating potential teams to bet on.

2023-24 NCAAB Records

TeamsRecordATS Record
Purdue21-213-8-2
UConn21-213-10
Houston20-311-11-1
Kansas18-510-12-1
North Carolina18-514-9

In our table above, we have identified five great teams that are on pace to win a lot of D-I basketball games this year.

The combined record of Houston, Kansas, and North Carolina is 56-13, which is a winning percentage of 81%.

However, against the spread (ATS), we can see that teams who win a lot of games don’t always cover the spread at the same rate.

Those three teams with a combined win percentage over 80% are only 35-32-2. ATS

That translates into a 52% cover rate ATS, a long way from their 80% win percentage.

Always Shop Around

Whether you are a novice bettor or a longtime sharp bettor – if you aren’t shopping around for your Best Odds, you aren’t giving yourself the best chance to win.

TeamsDraftKingsBet365Caesars
Arizona State+14.5 | +110+15 | -105+15 | -112
Colorado-14.5 | -130-15 | -115-15 | -108

In our example game above, you can see odds provided by different sportsbooks on the same game. You can bet Arizona State at +14.5 or +15 points.

When you look at the moneylines attached to both bets, the decision becomes pretty easy for most of us.

A +110 ML means a $10 wager would return $11 in profit.

A -112 ML means a $10 wager would return $8.93 in profit.

That is a difference of over 20% in ROI.

For one individual $10 wager, the profit difference may not seem extreme.

However, imagine winning an additional 20% profit every time you win a bet, and what that would look like over a long period.

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About the author

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