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 road to the NCAA Basketball tournament begins in early November and runs through the conference championships in early March. With 351 schools spread out over 32 conferences and 49 states (Alaska is the only state without a Division 1 basketball program), that’s a lot of college basketball to bet on.
When the Madness begins, everything hits another level altogether but don’t sleep on the regular season action now that West Virginia has legal sports betting. Below we’ve mapped out some key dates and all of your different sports betting options for the upcoming NCAAB season.
See below for a snapshot of the real-time NCAA basketball odds direct from WV online sportsbooks. Click on any odds to jump right to the sportsbook and claim your free bets. If you don’t see the team you want to bet, see our full live odds feed here. Check the second tab for current NCAA basketball championship and Final Four futures odds at WV online sportsbooks.
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:
Online sportsbooks offer 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).
West Virginia has two NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball teams:
The WVU Mountaineers are part of the Big 12 Conference with Coach Bob Huggins, a former Mountaineer, leading the team since 2007. WVU has seen success on the hardcourt with:
Additionally, they have played in 16 National Invitation Tournaments, resulting in two championships in 1942 and 2007.
Dan D’Antoni stepped into the role of head coach for Marshall in 2014. D’Antoni played college basketball at Marshall University and served as an assistant coach under his brother Mike D’Antoni for several NBA teams.
The Thundering Herd, members of Conference USA, officially played in the NCAA tournament five times. A sixth trip to the tournament was vacated due to NCAA violations. Additionally, The team also made five appearances in the NIT.
Get the latest rankings at AP’s Top 25 Poll
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:
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 college basketball regular season typically starts in early November and runs through to early March when the Conference tournaments are played.
The first NCAA tournament game tips off in mid-March with the First Four. The NCAA Tournament concludes on the first weekend in April when the next National Champion is crowned.
68 teams in total qualify for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament every year split up by:
March Madness games are 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.