From Bowl Mania to March Madness, NCAA betting is bigger than ever. Best of all, New Jersey fans no longer need to get down to the sportsbook to place a bet and more than a dozen online sportsbooks now let you cast a wager right from your phone, mobile device, or desktop.
There are a few catches. First, you need to be 21 or over in order to place a bet, which is enforced with identity verification technology. Second, you need to be within the state in order to place a bet, which is enforced with geolocation software. Third, you can bet on any college game — except those that involve New Jersey colleges or take place in New Jersey. The law prohibits these bets so unfortunately we won’t be able to win any money on Rutgers any time soon. All other bets are fair game.
Once you get the basics down NCAA betting is pretty straight forward and placing a wager is easier than ever. Below is a quick primer to get you started.
All odds are based on which team is the underdog, denoted with a plus sign, and which is the favorite, denoted with a minus sign.
Most NCAA bets are on football and basketball, so you’ll likely be dealing with a point spread. This denotes the points the favorite is “gives up” and the underdog “gets” and is used to make matchups more even in betting terms. So if Alabama is a -7 point favorite, they are “giving up” 7 points and would have to win by 8 or more points for the bet to win. If Ohio State is a +3 underdog, they are “getting” 3 extra points, meaning they can lose by up to 2 points and still win the bet.
College baseball and hockey don’t have a point spread but they do have a “run line” and “puckline,” respectively, which sets the would-be spread at 1.5.
You can also bet on the straight up winner using the moneyline. This denotes the ratio between your wager and the payout and is used to incentivize betting on the underdog with higher payouts. So if Michigan is a -150 favorite, you would need to bet $150 to win $100. But if UCLA is a +140 underdog, your $100 bet would win $140.
You may also wager on the point total. Combined point totals for each game are projected by each sportsbook and you can bet on whether the actual final combined total will be “over” or “under” that projection. Some sportsbooks will also allow you to place prop bets, which allow you to bet on any single event in a game, in-game bets, which allow you to bet on individual drives or possessions based on realtime odds, and futures bets, which allow you to make longterm or season-long bets like which team will win the NCAA championship.
How to Bet on NCAA Odds
First, it’s important to pick a sportsbook you feel comfortable using. Some sportsbooks offer a free bet to new users so you can try out a few with no risk. Once you pick a sportsbook, make sure to only deposit a sum of money you feel comfortable losing. When you place a bet, remember that sportsbooks typically charge a “vig” or “juice,” which is the fee or commission it takes for facilitating the bet. This is usually 10%, though it may be higher or lower, and is typically denoted as -110, meaning your $110 bet would win $100 while the book gets a 10 percent cut.
Once you get comfortable using one sportsbook, you can shop around different sportsbooks to find the best odds for your pick. You can also choose to bet on NCAA betting odds early in the week or see how they change later in the week — or you can bet on both. One popular strategy is betting against the public, meaning betting on the odds of a game where the public heavily favors one side later in the week once the oddsmakers have adjusted their odds to account for the heavy action, giving you more favorable odds on the opposite side.