Everyone knows how popular the annual NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball tournament is for both fans and sports bettors.
You might be surprised to hear just how popular, though. An estimated $8.5 billion will be bet on March Madness this year (according to Reuters) by a total of nearly 50 million bettors.
That’s a big deal. But there’s no need to wait for March Madness to bet on NCAA basketball.
The NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball schedule is made up of 351 schools spread out over 32 conferences and 49 states (Alaska is the only state without a Division 1 basketball program).
The road to the NCAA Basketball tournament begins in early November and runs through the conference championships in early March. Then the Madness begins and everything hits another level altogether.
Below we’ve mapped out some key dates and all of your different sports betting options for the upcoming NCAAB season.
Sports betting is legal in the state of West Virginia and is currently offered by three retail sportsbooks found in casinos across the state.
Two of those sportsbooks—FanDuel at the Greenbrier and the Hollywood Casino—now offer online sportsbooks and betting apps. Their online partners, respectively, are:
A third, Mountaineer Casino’s William Hill-powered sportsbook, is expected to come online soon.
Hollywood Casino Sportsbook made history as the first book to take a bet in WV.
Not only is Hollywood a great environment for watching games live, but its online sportsbook is also provided by DraftKings, a major player in both daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting.
The online sportsbook offers solid NCAAB lines and opportunities for live betting (also known as in-game betting) plus a fully downloadable betting app you can use for phones or tablets (iOS and Android).
FanDuel Sportsbook (Fanduel at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs) — The live FanDuel sportsbook has plenty of options, from the regular lines to props to live in-game betting, but offers limited access to the public as it’s a private, members-only casino. The online FanDuel Sportsbook, however, is open to anyone in WV and allows you to make bets from anywhere inside state lines.
William Hill Sportsbook (Mountaineer Casino in New Cumberland) – This William Hill sportsbook has a big selection of betting lines to choose from and when it comes online (expected in late 2019) it’ll be a hit from the get-go.
Mardi Gras Sportsbook (Cross Lanes) and Wheeling Island Sportsbook (Wheeling) do not currently have retail or online sportsbooks.
Regular Season Begins: November 5, 2019
NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament Dates: March 17, 2020-April 6, 2020
Broadcast Partners: CBS, ESPN, FOX, NBCSN, beIN Sports, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network, Root Sports, SEC Network, Longhorn Network
Early 2020 NCAA Tournament odds have been posted at many sportsbooks which means we see how the betting lines are shaping up.
Michigan State is the preseason favorite but, as you can tell from the odds, they aren’t the clear-cut favorite by any stretch. There are a total of five teams that are inside 10-1 odds right now.
Of course, it’s not surprising to see some well-known teams in the mix, including:
One team that’s not commonly in contention is Memphis, which hasn’t even played in the NCAA Tournament in five years. With coach Penny Hardaway and what many consider to be the best recruiting class in the country, though, they have the talent to compete with anyone in 2019-20.
Last year’s champion, Virginia, is at +1200 while last year’s runner-up, Texas Tech, is much further down the board at +2800.
The Virginia Cavaliers ended up being the story of the 2018-19 CBB season. A year before, they lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to become the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed.
They turned that ignominy into fuel, though, as they went all the way to the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Duke Blue Devils, who were led by Zion Williamson – the eventual first pick of the 2019 NBA Draft – were supposed to be the unstoppable force. However, they nearly lost to UCF early in the NCAA Tournament and eventually lost to Michigan State. They didn’t even get to the final.
The 2019 season also proved to be the year Texas Tech got a stamp of approval as one of the top programs in the country. A year after Chris Beard led the team to the Elite Eight, the coach instilled the same rugged defense that led the Red Raiders to the Championship Game.
They lost to Virginia but showed very well in the process. At +2800 to start the season, they might be a good value bet although they did lose star Jarret Culver to the NBA Draft.
Learn more about betting on the NBA and the NBA Draft.
There are plenty of different approaches you can take to bet on the college basketball regular season. Here is a look at the different types of odds & lines you’ll find:
The simplest way to bet on college basketball is to pick an outright winner in any given matchup, which is referred to as a “moneyline” wager. The moneyline odds for a college basketball matchup might look something like this:
In this scenario, West Virginia is the favorite to win. We know this because their odds include the (-) symbol. In this example, the Mountaineers are listed at -200 odds, which means that if you bet on them you need to risk $200 to win $100.
Meanwhile, Kansas is listed as the underdog as indicated by the (+) symbol next to them in the matchup. The Jayhawks are listed at +180 odds to win, which means that you could risk $100 to win $180 betting on Kansas.
The moneyline wager is very simple to understand and a favorite for lots of beginner bettors.
Another common bet you can make on college basketball is with the point spread. In terms of the point spread, sportsbooks try to offset any potential advantage a team has in a given matchup by listing both teams with a margin of victory that they think makes that matchup more even.
Here is a look at what a college basketball point spread might look like:
North Carolina (the favorite) is listed at -4.5 in this example. This means that the Tar Heels would need to win by five points or more in order to cover the point spread.
At the same time, Duke is listed at +4.5. This means that if the Blue Devils win straight up or lose by four points or less then they will cover the point spread and a bet on Duke wins.
This point spread bet is an excellent alternative to a moneyline bet where the betting odds aren’t great.
For situations in which you have a hunch that a game will be either really high scoring or really low scoring, you can bet on the total points scored for a college basketball game rather than picking sides on the moneyline or the point spread.
The totals bet lets you bet on the combined total score of a game will be without choosing a winner. Here’s an example of what the total might look like for a college basketball game:
For this scenario, the sportsbooks have set the total points for a matchup between the Mountaineers and Jayhawks at 178.5. This means that if the teams combine for 179 points or more, the “OVER” would be considered the winner.
At the same time, if the teams combine for 178 points or fewer in the game, then the “UNDER” would be considered the winner. It doesn’t matter which teams wins the game outright or covers the point spread. All that matters is the combined number of points the teams score in the game.
Any type of college basketball bet that has an outcome that won’t be determined until much later on in the year is considered a futures bet.
For example, if you were to bet on which team you think will win the national championship before the season begins (see odds above), that’s a futures bet.
College basketball futures bets could include everything from betting on how many wins a team will record in a given season to which team will win a specific conference.
Any time two or more bets are combined on the same betting ticket it’s considered a parlay bet. Here is an example of what a college basketball parlay might look like:
In this specific example, the bettor has selected the Tar Heels and Spartans to cover the point spread on the same ticket. They will risk $5 to win $10 if both teams cover the number.
The key to remember is that both teams must cover the point spread in order for this parlay ticket to be a winner. If one team covers the point spread but the other doesn’t, then the parlay is a losing bet.
Parlay bets are an excellent way to get bigger odds by betting on multiple teams at the same time. The risk, of course, is that playing them on the same ticket ties them together and winning just one of them makes it a loser.
Narrow Your Focus – With so many different teams spread across so many different conferences, it’s important to narrow your focus in order to identify and concentrate on the best matchups. It’s just too much to research 351 teams and 32 conferences – especially since many of the smaller conference games aren’t even broadcast. The best approach is to zone in on a handful of teams that you’ll get to know. Usually, the easiest are teams in the power conferences as they’ll have the most information readily available.
Understand Home/Road Splits – In almost every sport, the majority of teams tend to perform better on their home court than they do on the road. This is particularly true when it comes to college basketball where home court could very well be the key difference between two evenly matched teams. For example, Texas Tech, who went to the championship game last season, was 17-1 at home last year but was just 6-3 on the road. That gives you an idea of how valuable a home-court advantage can be.
Track Hot Streaks – Another important tip to remember is the importance of tracking hot streaks. For that matter, it’s also worth tracking cold streaks as well. There will be plenty of examples of teams going on extensive winning or losing streaks throughout the year. If you’re paying close enough attention, you can track hot and cold streaks and capitalize on them.
Coaching Matters – Unlike in the NBA, where star power is among the most important factors in win/loss records, coaching is much more important in college basketball. College basketball teams are made up of college athletes rather than professional athletes, so coaching is even more important when it comes to putting them in the best possible position to succeed. Whether it’s John Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo or Jim Boeheim, the best college basketball coaches in the country consistently recruit and develop the top talents in college basketball. Make sure that you factor coaching heavily in to all of the wagers you make on college basketball.
Use Live Betting To Your Advantage – Live in-game betting gives you a great opportunity to watch some of the game before placing your bet. If a big favorite is trailing early, you can hop in and take advantage of a better line for them to make a comeback. Another option is to use live betting to hedge your bets. If you bet on a team and see that they’re struggling, you can bet the other side and get some money back.
One of the challenges of handicapping college basketball is that there are 351 schools in Division I across 32 different conferences.
Not all are made equal, though, as conferences like the ACC are stacked with elite teams while the smaller conferences might only get one team to participate in the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s a list of the 32 college basketball conferences in Division I:
The college basketball season has several phases. There’s the regular season, which includes non-conference and conference play, there’s the conference tournament and then there’s the NCAA Tournament.
To qualify for the NCAA Tournament, teams have two options:
Much hand-wringing goes into the NCAA selection process every year and the new “NET” formula used by the NCAA (including the new ‘First Four’ bids added to the field in 2011) aspires to place the most deserving teams in the field.
Among the metrics used to give a team its NET rating:
The NCAA Tournament is college basketball’s ultimate tournament played every year since 1939. Now colloquially known as “March Madness,” this is a 68-team tournament where only one team emerges as the champion.
Each year, there are four regions with teams seeded from No. 1 to No. 16. They all square off to produce a winner. After each region has produced a winner, those teams make up the Final Four.
The Final Four square off to determine who is the ultimate National Champion.
See our full guide to betting on the NCAA Tournament here:
Anyone 21 years or older and inside the borders of West Virginia can bet on college basketball. That means they can bet on the games either in-person at one of the casino-based sportsbooks or they can bet using an online sportsbook or betting app.
The 2019-20 college basketball regular season starts on November 5th and runs through to March 8th.
The first NCAA tournament game will tip off on Tuesday March 17, 2020 with the First Four. The NCAA Tournament will conclude on Monday, April 6, 2020 when the next National Champion is crowned.
68 teams in total qualify for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament every year split up by:
2020 March Madness games will be broadcast on the same network of channels as previous years, which include:
The networks will also broadcast certain tournament games online through their various streaming packages. If you’d prefer to listen to the games, the Westwood One will have radio rights.
You can also stream all of the games live on the official NCAA March Madness website.
An estimated $8.5 billion will be bet on March Madness each year by almost 50 million bettors in total across the US.