The year 2020 will certainly be remembered for many different events, especially in the United States. But let’s forget about all that for a minute and talk about betting college basketball.
For sports fans, memories will be from the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve already seen leagues interrupt play, games canceled and entire seasons disrupted in a variety of ways.
College basketball is no different, with the beginning of the season already delayed to Thanksgiving weekend. Teams have canceled appearances at preseason tournaments, and we can expect more issues as the season wears on.
Betting on sports is inherently challenging, and the current pandemic hasn’t made it any easier. With college basketball finally getting underway, it’s time to take a look at betting options. As with any sport, there are several different wagers available.
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NCAA Championship Futures
While the regular season is important in college basketball, the recent focus has been on the NCAA Tournament. The three-week, 68-team event known as March Madness culminates in the crowning of a national champion. Last year’s tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Virginia was the last winner in 2019.
A college basketball futures bet on an individual team pays off if that team wins the championship. Odds are set during the preseason and adjusted during the course of the season. Gonzaga and Villanova are the favorites with odds of +950.
A $100 wager on either of those teams will pay out $950 if they win the national championship. Right behind them as betting favorites are Iowa at +1000 and Virginia and Baylor at +1100.
NCAA Final Four Futures
To win this wager, anyone betting college basketball needs to pick a team that wins their region in the NCAA Tournament. The favorites to make the Final Four are the same as to win the title. Gonzaga and Villanova both have odds of +120 to be in the national semifinals.
Baylor is next at +160, followed by Kentucky and Virginia at +200, and Duke and Creighton at +250. The Final Four bet is challenging in that it’s being made well before the actual tournament seedings are available.
As most college basketball fans are aware, not all regional brackets are created equally. The odds this early in the season may not accurately reflect the risk of wagering on a particular team.
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Conference Championship Futures
Bettors also have the option of placing wagers on which teams will win their conference titles. Since most conferences crown their champion through a tournament process, this is essentially a conference tournament-winning future bet.
Among major conferences, Villanova in the Big East and Kentucky in the SEC have the best odds at +120. Virginia is the favorite in the ACC at +190, while Iowa is at +240 in the Big Ten.
The Big 12 favorite is Baylor at +140, while Arizona State is at +230 in the Pac-12.
Individual Game Betting
When betting college basketball on a single game is one of the best ways to get an edge on the big odds making houses. There are over 350 Division I men’s basketball teams and over 150 games on a given night.
With low expected handles on some games, it’s possible to find a lock among those offerings.
The individual game wagering is the same as in other team sports, with spreads, moneyline, and over/under bets. Depending on the sportsbook, they might also offer proposition bets, parlays and live wagering.
Someone with knowledge of a team or conference that isn’t widely covered has an opportunity to pick some gems. With the number of games and lines that need to be set on short notice, it’s worth taking the time to do the research.