Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world to bet on, particularly in the United States and Europe where the highest level leagues exist. For the most part, wagering on basketball is similar no matter which league you are betting on, since rules only tend to vary in relatively minor ways. Outside of distances for shooting and length of games, basketball tends to flow the same for all of the major leagues, just like with baseball, hockey, or soccer.
Perhaps the most exciting and intriguing dynamic of basketball sports betting is found in its fast pace. A team can be down by 10, 20, even 30 points and have a realistic chance to make a comeback and compete for the win. While this can happen in most any sport, the ultra quick point swings in basketball make it that much more exciting to wager on. As a result, basketball is both the most thrill inducing, and often most stressful, of the major sports to bet on.
Basketball bets come in three primary forms: moneyline, point spread, and over/under. If you are betting on the moneyline or over/under, you are going to be wagering on the outright outcome of the game, either based on the straight up winner or based on how much a team wins (or loses) by. If you bet on the over/under, however, you are making a bet based on the pace and scoring probability in the game. Theoretically, you could bet on all three and win all three wagers within one game, but this would, of course, be difficult to do.
Moneyline bets offer bettors the opportunity to win, or lose, the most with one single wager. While spread and o/u bets tend to pay right around even money, a moneyline wager will require the bettor to risk more to win less than 1:1 (when betting the favorite) or win more by betting less. Basketball moneylines tend to be in the +110 to +1200 range for professional games, with college games sometimes reaching closer to +3000 or +4000 in very lopsided matchups.
In basketball, even for professional games, when matchups are very uneven, a moneyline wager will frequently not be offered at all. In some cases, a moneyline bet can be made on the favorite, but not on the underdog, as sportsbooks are not willing to assume the risk of a big loss (though certain books will offer ML action on every game and both sides almost without fail, a notable example being William Hill or Westgate in Las Vegas).
Point spread wagers work the same way in basketball bets as they do in other sports. If a team is +5, they are a 5 point underdog, and if a team is -5, they are a 5 point favorite. In these cases, each side would usually be -110, meaning a $110 wager would net a $100 profit for either side. Sometimes one side may be -105 and the other side will be +115, or there could even be a +105, -110 situation, depending on which side the books need action on to balance their risk.
Over/under bets exist in many sports, and they are particularly sharp in professional basketball leagues. Over/unders can certainly be way off from time to time, but you are more likely to find an edge on these wagers if you are betting college basketball or betting in the early stages of an NBA or Euroleague season (for example). Once professional leagues progress into the latter stages of their schedules, the over/unders become incredibly accurate to where it is very unlikely that a bettor could have a real edge.
Basketball is very swingy on a game by game basis, but there is no shortage of drama and runs throughout the length of an entire season as well. Whether you want to wager on who will win the NBA Championship or who will win the NCAA Basketball Championship, there will be futures bets available to you. In fact, picking a winner early on in a season is your best chance at a big payday, especially if you think you know which underdog(s) have the best chance of coming through for a championship win.
Futures bets are usually for which teams will win a division, conference, or outright championship, but prop bets in basketball can be very fun as well. Prop bets are going to cost more when it comes to paying vig, but they will also allow sharp bettors the chance to generate profit from their picks. An example basketball prop bet would be betting on how many points or rebounds an individual player may total in an individual game.
If you can spot a favorable matchup for a particular player, you will be able to book a win by betting on that one player’s performance. This is another way to add another element of action to the game. Beyond game stat totals, you can bet on everything from which player will make the first three to whether the final score total will be odd or even. Whether your bets are to add more excitement or because you feel that you can beat the offered odds, prop bets add a lot of action (and profit potential) to basketball betting.
Basketball games can be bet all the way from college to professional leagues. The NBA and Men’s NCAA have the most lines and most wagers, by far. With that said, there are a lot of other basketball betting opportunities available, primarily the Euro league.
In Europe, Asia, and throughout the world, a number of different leagues exist. Outside of the NBA, you will tend to find less “close” spreads, as many teams dominate their leagues year after year. Because of this, you will likely find better lines to take advantage of if you can bet on non-NBA basketball games in a league you are familiar with. When betting non-NBA games, spreads and odds tend to be bigger. This is not always the case, but big lines will be more frequent as uneven matchups frequently take place.
College basketball is a very big form of betting, especially during March Madness, the annual tournament that decides championship winners in both NCCAM and NCAAW basketball. You may have bet in a pool that uses a bracket (and lots of luck) to decide the winning better, but you can bet on individual games as well, just as you would for the NBA. College tends to have the craziest of point swings and action, so if you decide to bet on NCAA games, be prepared for an emotional roller coaster.