College Basketball Handicapping

Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
6 minute read
College Basketball Handicapping

College basketball is one of the toughest sports to handicap but also one of the most lucrative if you can learn to do so accurately.

Although the sport doesn’t receive much attention before the start of the NCAA Tournament, there is plenty of college basketball that is available for betting before that point.

The season begins in early November, and there is a massive slate of games, just about every night of the week.

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We’ll spell out the basics of college basketball handicapping and give you a path to profitability when it comes to winning at NCAAB betting.

More so than with any other sports, achieving profits when betting NCAA basketball takes a tremendous amount of work and insight into the game.

What Is A Handicap When Betting On Sports?

Handicapping sports or a handicap is assigning an advantage to teams or participants in a sporting event in order to even up the score and equalize their chances of winning.

Sportsbooks, when they set odds, are handicapping the game.

Your goal as a sports bettor is to try and spot inefficiencies in the odds. The ultimate goal is to profit off these inefficiencies.

Breaking down games and understanding the teams and players is a must when handicapping college basketball.

There are so many teams and players when betting college hoops that it takes a considerable amount of time to get information or know-how on anything but the top teams.

How to Handicap College Basketball

How to Handicap College Basketball

There are many steps to becoming a successful NCAA basketball handicapper. It’s worth noting that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to betting on basketball.

Some bettors don’t use spreadsheets and algorithms and instead handicap by with their gut. While others are strict line shoppers.

You can adopt any number of these steps as they will inevitably improve your skills as a college hoops bettor.

Here are our top 10 tips for handicapping college ball:

  1. Bet Totals

    NCAAB total bets have lower limits than other sides and moneylines, and that’s because they’re a favorite of sharps and hard for oddsmakers to be confident in their numbers.

    After all, it’s easier to predict how a game might play out when it comes to pace of play and scoring in many cases, rather than which team will win the game. If you’re not betting on some totals – you’re making a mistake.

  2. Focus Your Efforts

    As mentioned above, there are over 350 Division I teams that play college basketball.

    You can’t possibly learn enough about them all to place wagers. Narrow your focus on a few conferences and teams and bet those games more heavily than others.

  3. Bet Futures

    NCAAB futures bets are not ideal in many cases for new bettors as they tie up funds for quite a while and often have high vigorish.

    However, they are some of the least efficient markets. And, the NCAA Tournament, due to its single-game, one-and-done, format, offers a lot of variances when it comes to outcome.

  4. Rebounding Rates

    Rebounding advantage isn’t worth quite as much in the NBA due to some sharp shooting teams, but it is king in college.

    This is usually adjusted into the lines, but sometimes the advantage may not be fully realized by the sportsbooks. Pay attention to the rebound rate. It’s a critical stat that gives teams massive advantages in many cases.

  5. Bet Propositions

    Many betting sites don’t have player prop bets until the NCAA Tournament or NCAAB conference tournaments, but if they do – it’s undoubtedly a betting opportunity.

    Though limits won’t be significant, college basketball prop bets can be beatable by creating your own numbers if you’re knowledgeable enough about college basketball.

    These will always involve higher-profile schools in at least one of the teams, so that makes the research a bit easier.

  6. Question The Value of Home-court

    “Home-court advantage is huge in NCAA basketball” is just about the most cliched statement ever when it comes to wagering on sports.

    Too many bettors make the mistake of using this as a reason to place a bet.

    It’s certainly possible that the sportsbooks are not factoring in everything that sharp bettors are using, but this is one thing that they indeed have priced into each and every line. You can learn more about it in our NCAA Basketball Betting Strategies

  7. Factor In Recent Play

    This should be obvious, but many bettors end up just looking at the schedule and not how the team has played lately.

    There may be a reason for their poor or above-average play, other than merely being hot or cold. This is where following the sport closely comes in handy.

  8. Follow Beat Writers On Twitter

    Twitter is the fastest way to get news these days, including sports news. College basketball beat writers on Twitter are the first to tweet out late-breaking news and injury information.

    Following the top ones will give you a chance to beat the sportsbooks to the punch in some cases on late-breaking news.

  9. Find Sportsbooks With Higher Limits

    Getting a ton of money down on a college basketball game is much harder than doing it in other sports.

    Utilizing multiple college basketball betting sites helps, but finding at least one sportsbook that takes higher limits is a better option. You would be surprised how few sportsbooks take over $1,000 on NCAA sides, and limits are even less on moneylines and totals.

  10. Manage Your Bankroll Properly

    The college basketball season has more betting opportunities than any other sport when it comes to Division I play. Managing your bankroll is essential if you want to withstand an entire season of college basketball.

    A decent strategy is to go light early, but as you get to know the teams more and your edge increases, bet more later in the year. Don’t forget to take advantage of NCAA welcome bonuses.

College Basketball Betting Mistakes To Avoid

Betting mistakes to avoid when betting on NCAA Basketball

Handicapping is another weapon you can add to your college basketball betting arsenal.

We suggest that you take up NCAA basketball betting, but treat it a bit differently than you would when wagering on the NFL or NBA.

Not only is it essential to change your habits when it comes to betting NCAA basketball, but it’s also vital to avoid some of the significant downfalls that cause sports bettors to lose when they bet college hoops.

These are three mistakes you must avoid when handicapping college basketball:

Mistake #1Betting Too Many Games

It’s okay to bet the top conferences, but when you start betting on the Mid-American Conferences with teams and players that you haven’t researched at all – then you’re just becoming an action junkie.

There is an abundance of games on the board, but it’s an absolute must that you be selective when choosing which games to bet.

Mistake #2Not Narrowing Your Focus

This also falls under betting too many games. Wagering on the top teams that are nationally covered makes sense, but if you’re going to bet Mid-America games, then you ought to focus on a select few conferences.

Learn about these teams, get a handle on their coaches and style of play and then bet these teams both when they play in conference and out of conference.

Mistake #3Forgetting About Line Shopping

This is the biggest mistake that sports bettors make when it comes to wagering on all markets. We also recommend having money in 2-3 sportsbooks to be sure that you always get the best price when placing a bet.

Always have money at multiple sportsbooks. Always line shop for the best price.

Handicap NCAAB Games And Bet At These Top Sites

Ready to put your handicapping skills to good use? Check out our recommended sites below and start betting on college basketball this season.

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Check Out Our Full Review Of The Top NCAA Basketball Betting Sites

About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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