How to Bet on Basketball

We’re here to show you how to bet on basketball.

Key Points

– Basketball bettors can wager on games a number of different ways.

– A variety of strategies, like betting early, can be employed to achieve greater success in betting on basketball.

How to Bet on Basketball

Betting on the NBA and college basketball is somewhat similar to betting on the NFL and college football. The number of games available gives basketball bettors even more opportunity than football bettors.

The NBA plays an 82-game schedule plus a two-month postseason. The NCAA basketball season typically sees teams play 30-plus games each plus their conference and NCAA tournaments. 

The most popular bets on basketball are the standard moneyline, point spread, and totals bets. Here, we take a look at each and offer some NBA betting tips showing you how to bet on basketball.

Moneyline Basketball Bets

NBA or college basketball bettors can wager on a team to win or lose. This is the traditional moneyline bet. 

Washington +220

Boston -260

In the example above, the Celtics are a -260 favorite over the Wizards. A bettor must wager $2.60 to win $1. On the other side, a $1 bet on the underdog Wizards would pay out $2.20.

The final score and margin of victory do not matter in a moneyline bet. 

Betting the Spread – How to Bet on Basketball

Oddsmakers try to even the teams out by applying a handicap. NBA point spreads are a very popular wager for all levels of bettors. In our example, Boston is the favorite. Oddsmakers decide the handicap is 12.5 points. The bet would look like this.

Washington +12.5

Boston -12.5

The Celtics would have to win by at least 13 points in order for Boston bettors to win. The Wizards can either lose by 12 or fewer points or win outright. Odds on point spread bets are typically -110 on each side of the bet meaning a bettor must wager $1.10 to win $1. Learn more about analyzing basketball betting lines with this article.

Betting Totals / OVER UNDER

When basketball bettors have a difficult time choosing a side, they can often look to the total. Betting totals is a wager on whether the final combined score of a game will go Over or Under a set number.

Washington O 220 (-110)

Boston U 220 (-110)

If a bettor thinks the two teams will combine for more than 220 points, he can bet $1.10 on the Over. Regardless of who wins the game, a final score of 117-110 is a total of 227 points and the bet is a winner.

Look at Injury Reports

In basketball, there are only five players on a team. The impact of one player, especially a star, can have a huge impact on the outcome of a game. 

Check the injury report for every game that you are considering placing a wager. Betting on a huge favorite to cover when they won’t have one of their best players can lead to disaster. 

It is also wise to check the injury report throughout the day as it can change all the up to about an hour before game time.

Bet Early

A great strategy for basketball bettors is to place bets as early as possible. Typically, NBA markets will open around 8 a.m. ET. 

This is when oddsmakers have the least amount of information. They will gain more as the day goes on and line and/or odds adjustments may be made. This can be very important when placing wagers for March Madness.

If a bettor is going to beat the closing line, he has a better chance when he wagers early. Using our example with Boston and Washington, you like the Wizards to cover the large spread.

Later in the day, the Celtics announce two of their best players will not play. The spread adjusts to Washington +8. Those that bet early beat the closing line. Bettors that consistently beat the closing line have greater long-term success in sports betting.

How to Bet on Basketball – Scheduling Advantages

The NBA season is a grueling 82 games. There are nights when teams must play on consecutive nights. That can be an advantage for a team that didn’t play the night before.

One of the newer things in NBA scheduling is the two-game series. Two opponents play each other in back-to-back games. 

Over the past two seasons, the team that has lost the first game is 38-19-2 against the spread in the second game. Bettors can look for these types of opportunities by simply looking at the NBA schedule.

Pace & Totals

The number of possessions a team has in a game goes a long way in affecting how many points the team will score. Teams that average more possessions typically score more points. Scoring more points can lead to more Overs.

Bettors can look at two opponents and their respective pace numbers as well as their shooting numbers and make a strong determination on a game total. 

Other information to look at includes rest. Is a team at the end of a long road trip? Playing style often plays a role as well. Some teams may have a strategy to play more deliberately on offense against a certain opponent. 

More than anything though, pace can help a bettor make a decision on a game total.

We hope this answered your question about how to bet on basketball.