How to Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball

Basketball has become a huge betting area in sports. The NBA season spans from October to June with all 30 teams playing 82 games and 16 teams playing best of 7’s until the NBA Championship. Our information includes how to bet on the NBA playoffs all the way to the finals.

College basketball picks up in March with the biggest tournament in sports. Here are the many ways to make a basketball bet.

All mobile sportsbooks accept action on basketball. Most of it is the NBA and NCAA. However, there may be some bets available on games played in other countries or during The Olympics. 

US Casino Advantage may earn a commission if you accept one of the offers on this page. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Caesars Online Sportsbook$1,250 First Bet Loss Rebate + 1,000 Reward & Tier CreditsPromo Code: VEGADVFULL or VEGADVPICS (in MD)Read ReviewClaim Now21+ and present in AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV or WY. First online real money wager only. Refund issued as a single bet credit that expires 14 days after receipt. MD (21+) offers a different welcome bonus. Restrictions apply.
DraftKings Online SportsbookBet $5 and Win, Then Get $150 in Bonus BetsRead ReviewClaim Now21+ and present in AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, VA, WV or 18+ in WY. Minimum $5 deposit. Minimum $5 bet. Bet must win. Bonus paid as six $25 bonus bets. Restrictions apply.
FanDuel Online SportsbookFirst Bet Loss Rebate, Up to $1,000Read ReviewClaim Now21+ and present in AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, or WY. First online real money wager only. Bonus bets expire 14 days after receipt. Restrictions apply.

More online sportsbook welcome bonus offers

Moneyline betting

One of the most popular and simplest bets in all of sports are money lines. Moneyline bets are based around picking which team is going to win. Odds are usually stacked in different ways based on the comparison of the two teams meeting. For instance, if two close teams in the standings meet up, lines would be much closer than if a bottom tier team plays a strong one.

A big thing to avoid when betting on money lines is to big favorites. The risk and reward of heavy favorites is not a good ratio with the risk of an upset. Upsets happen in all major sports and it can lead to a serious threat if a bettor is riding big favorites. With the extended season, some NBA teams will bench starters for bigger games.

A good strategy for betting on moneylines in basketball is finding good underdogs. If a team is riding a losing streak, but are better than the record implies, you could find solid value in them as underdogs. Another big concern to watch out for is a good team potentially benching some key players for rest. This can change lines and lead to some upsets.

Point spreads

Betting on the spread in basketball is a way for the sportsbooks to even out the game between two teams. These spreads are used to close the gap between two teams. Both sides of the spread are usually listed at -110. A lot of spreads are set strongly and the final point differential is similar to the line.

One strategy when betting on spreads is to watch out for teams that rely heavily on the three-ball. If they are going up against a weaker defense, it could be a formula for a blowout. If they go up against a strong defense, that can shut down the three and could lead to a cover for the other team. Teams that score a lot in the paint can be harder to defend. 

Another thing to watch out for when betting large point spreads. When mismatches arise, spreads can get much bigger, but in those games the better team could bench starters late. This could allow the underdog to cover late in the game. If the favorite comes in too confidently, the underdog could surprise.

Over/ under betting

The over/ under betting is based around the final score of a game. The two final scores are added up and whether it is higher or lower than the set number will determine the bet. Totals vary a lot in basketball based on the two teams playing. Most over/ unders are listed at around -110 odds because the number can vary a lot.

A good strategy for betting on the over/ under is looking at teams offensive and defensive efficiency ratings. Two strong defensive teams can lead to a good under bet, while two higher scoring teams can be closer to the over. Looking at a team’s best offensive players and who they will be guarded by in a matchup could give a sense of how many points will be scored.

Another solid strategy for looking at over/ under bets is looking for really high totals and taking the under. These over/ unders can be an overreaction to a really strong offensive performance and tend to balance out. Looking for a really lower total and taking the over can be another solid bet.

Totals are also available for periods and halves. These are known as prop bets.


Parlays combine at least two outcomes. These may be point spreads, moneylines and totals, as long as the bets are not correlated. There are also same game parlays in basketball that involve player stats, sides and totals.

If one leg of a parlay pushes, it is dropped and paid as a smaller parlay, assuming all other sides win. If any part of a parlay loses, the entire ticket is graded as a loss. 


Teasers work like parlays. Multiple outcomes are picked for this type of wager. However, a teaser allows players to add points to a spread. The most common basketball teasers are 4, 4.5 and 5 points. If any leg of a teaser loses, the entire ticket is a loss. When a leg pushes, it is dropped from the ticket. If all other legs win, it is paid as one team fewer.

For example, three wins and a push on a four-team teaser becomes a winning three-team teaser. If a two-team teaser has a push and a win, it is graded as a push. 

Player Props

A popular way to bet on basketball is through player props. These player props can be based around a player’s final point total, assist total, rebound total, whether or not they get a double-double or triple-double. 

When betting on a player prop, a solid strategy is to look at season averages and try to find a total on a stat that is below their season average. Another strategy is to bet on a star player’s point total after they have an off game. Players tend to bounce back after a struggling performance and you can sometimes get a good line after that rough outing.

One thing to avoid when betting on player props is picking the over on a star player’s total in a mismatch game. If a really strong team is playing against a weaker team, it could lead to star players being benched if the game gets out of hand. This potentially gives less time for players to hit the over on their totals.

Other types of basketball props

Another type of basketball prop involves team stats. You can bet a total over or under on how many points, rebounds or assists a team will have. You can also bet point spreads, moneylines and totals on periods and halves. 

Futures betting

Another popular way to bet on basketball is through futures bets. Futures bets allow for wagers to be set on outcomes later in the season. This can be around which team wins the championship, division or conference. It can also include individual awards like MVP. These futures bets are popular when it comes to March Madness. Bets can be based around which team wins each section of the bracket or the whole tournament.

A good strategy when betting on futures is to pick early. It is hard to predict what will happen over a whole season, but the earlier you get in on it, the better odds you can get. In March Madness, taking a Cinderella team with a high ranked offense and defense can be a solid bet. In the NBA, a good bet is taking a team that is due for a strong run after a big offseason.

If you are predicting the NBA Champion at the start of the playoffs, avoiding a 5-8 seed is a smart move. Rarely do lower seeds make deep runs in the NBA playoffs, so taking the odds on them to win the Championship can be a losing bet. Look for one of the top three seeds who can play strong balanced basketball.

Live betting

Live betting is also referred to as in-play and micro betting. It involves making bets on an event that is already in progress. This is usually only permitted during commercial breaks and halftime. The player can buy and sell positions in an attempt to beat the market. Note that the house edge on these bets tend to be higher than wagers made before the basketball game starts. Live betting typically involves moneylines, point spreads and totals.