College Basketball Betting 2021

NCAA men’s basketball is one of the most popular forms of sports betting in the US

While it might not receive more wagers than football, in general, college basketball is always among the top markets at retail and online sportsbooks.

Division 1 men’s basketball in the US consists of more than 350 schools and 32 conferences, meaning there can be hundreds of games available to bet on during nights and weekends. 

However, the predominant juncture in US sports betting is the opening weekend of the men’s basketball tournament, aka March Madness.

Legal sports gambling on regular-season college basketball continues to expand in the US. Several states offer online sports betting and allow their residents to bet on college b-ball from legal sportsbook apps.

Top online sportsbooks for NCAA basketball betting

Online sports betting has surpassed retail betting in the majority of states where it’s available. Bettors prefer the convenience of gambling on their favorite online sportsbook.

Multiple states have more than a few options when it comes to online sports betting apps. In New JerseyPennsylvaniaWest Virginia, Indiana, and Colorado, bettors have their choice of quality online platforms.

Here are the best online sportsbooks available to bet on NCAA basketball in 2021:

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DraftKingsFanDuel and Unibet have online sportsbooks in most of these states. Each betting app consists of an easy-to-navigate layout so you can find in-depth betting options.

They offer an extensive selection of betting types and markets, allowing their customers to wager on live college basketball games, too.

Is betting on NCAA men’s basketball legal in the US?

Betting on NCAA men’s basketball is legal in several states in the US. 

At this time, over a dozen states offer legalized sports betting markets. Several other states are close to launching sports betting.

Online Sportsbooks & AppsRetail OnlyUpcoming States
Colorado AppsArkansasLouisiana
Illinois AppsDelawareNorth Carolina
Indiana Apps MississippiMaryland
Iowa AppsMontana
Michigan AppsNew Mexico
Nevada AppsNew York
New Hampshire Apps
New Jersey Apps
Pennsylvania Apps
Rhode Island Apps
Tennessee Apps
Virginia Apps
West Virginia Apps

While betting on sports is permitted in these locations, there are some restrictions

In the NJ sports betting market, sportsbooks are not allowed to accept wagers on NJ-based teams or any college basketball games playing in the Garden State.

This stipulation was put into place when NJ passed the law for legal sports gambling and started taking bets in June 2018. 

As a result, sports fans of Seton HallRutgersPrinceton and Fairleigh Dickinson cannot wager on their teams within the state.

Players outside of the state will have this issue when looking to bet on any future tournament games taking place in NJ. For this reason, there aren’t any NCAA Tournament games scheduled for play in the state.

Some types of limitations apply to those looking to wager on college basketball. Those with certain professions are not permitted to bet on collegiate sports. Employees of a university, as well as players, coaches, trainers and officials, cannot bet on games.

Where does the NCAA stand on college basketball betting?

The NCAA is not in favor of legal betting on college basketball. Initially, the organization banned having national championship games played in states that allow regulated sports wagering.

They did, however, change their minds after the Supreme Court decision repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

Still, the NCAA has not altered its stance on sports betting. 

Its website describes all forms of sports wagering as having “the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.”

Even though both college football and March Madness betting generate plenty of handle at sportsbooks, the NCAA has stayed firm in its opposition to sports betting.

In 2019, the NCAA Board of Governors “reaffirmed its support of current NCAA rules prohibiting student-athletes and university administrators from wagering on sports.”

Although the NCAA’s rulings are in place, a lot of universities have decided to make their own rules in order to keep up with individual states. 

Saint Joseph’s and Villanova (in Pennsylvania) both implemented policies to forbid its staff and students from placing wagers on events involving the school’s teams.

Of course, this is a difficult problem for schools located inside of states where it is legal to bet on sports. Villanova said it changed its rules to “‘strike the necessary balance’ between the state’s regulations and the NCAA’s rules.”

With the NCAA taking such a hard position on gambling on college sports, it doesn’t appear likely that they will change anytime soon. Regardless of how many states legalize sports betting, the NCAA looks ready to oppose their views.

How to bet on college basketball

Betting on college basketball is similar to betting on any other game. The most common ways to wager on a college basketball game include:

  • Futures
  • Live, in-game 
  • Moneyline
  • Parlays
  • Point spread
  • Props
  • Teasers
  • Totals

Like most other sports, the usual betting markets apply to NCAA basketball. Bettors can choose just one game to wager on or include multiple selections to create a parlay.

At many sportsbooks, bettors can alter parlays into teasers where a point spread bet improves between 4-5 points.

Also, they can wager on a single game and decide to bet on a team’s moneyline rather than the spread. There are totals available for the game as well as each team, too.

The majority of online sportsbooks will feature props and futures to go along with the standard odds. These will consist of team, player and game props and season-long futures.

Most futures bets don’t conclude until the end of the college basketball year. The most common include:

  • Conference champion
  • Make the NCAA Tournament
  • Make the Final Four
  • National champion
  • John R. Wooden Award winner

Props will vary depending on which types are available for a specific game. 

Game props usually have whether the total points will be odd or even and double-chance, where bettors can decide on the two most likely outcomes of a game. Typically, team props are based around the team totals for each side.

College basketball live betting

Live wagering on NCAA basketball is becoming increasingly popular. Here are the most common in-game bets:

  • Moneyline
  • Point spread
  • Alternates to point spread
  • Total points
  • Alternates to total points
  • Team totals
  • First-half lines
  • Second-half lines

NCAA men’s basketball 2021 schedule 

  • March 7: Regular season concludes
  • March 9-14: Conference Championship week
  • March 14: Selection Sunday
  • March 16-17: First Four games
  • March 18: First round begins
  • March 25: Sweet 16 begins
  • April 3: Final Four begins
  • April 5: National Championship game

NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament

March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year for sports fans and gamblers. 

The year-end tournament compiles the 68 best college basketball teams in the nation into a winner-take-all bracket.

The tournament is one of the top sporting events in the US for betting with billions bet on it across the US. Filling out a bracket has become a standard for many basketball fans.

The regular season concludes for all teams by Sunday, March 7. Conference tournaments will play through that following week until Selection Sunday takes place on March 14.

The selection show reveals which 68 teams make up the NCAA Tournament each year. 

The First Four games will play early that week, and then the official start of March Madness begins on Thursday, March 18.

While the favorites from throughout the season still have the best chance to win, the tournament is exciting because it’s genuinely unpredictable. Top teams who have dreams of a title can be defeated on the first day of games by a No. 16 seed who’s a major underdog.

The field of teams will consist of the 32 conference champions who won their postseason tournament. All conference tournament champs are given an automatic bid into March Madness regardless of their regular-season performance.

The final 36 teams receive at-large berths from an NCAA selection committee. These results and the final tournament bracket will be released on Selection Sunday, March 14, 2021.

Teams with the best regular seasons will receive No. 1 seeds, whereas those who barely make the cut will receive lower seeds, e.g., No. 16.

The 2021 tournament will begin on March 16 with the First Four, which are the first four games that reduce the field total from 68 to 64. Note that all games for the 2021 tournament will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana to mitigate COVID-19 efforts.

The first round will get underway on March 18. Games will play through the weekend until the second round is complete, and only 16 teams remain. The next round starts the following Thursday and goes through the next weekend until the Final Four remain.

The 2021 Final Four starts on April 3 in Indianapolis. These games, along with the NCAA National Championship, will be at the Lucas Oil Stadium.

2020/21 NCAA Basketball preseason AP Top 25 poll

1GonzagaBulldogsWest Coast
2BaylorBearsBig 12
3VillanovaWildcatsBig East
Atlantic Coast
5IowaHawkeyesBig Ten
6KansasJayhawksBig 12
7WisconsinBadgersBig Ten
8IllinoisFighting Illini
Big Ten
9DukeBlue Devils
Atlantic Coast
11CreightonBluejaysBig East
13Michigan State
SpartansBig Ten
14Texas Tech
Red Raiders
Big 12
15West Virginia
MountaineersBig 12
16North Carolina
Tar Heels
Atlantic Coast
17HoustonCougarsAmerican Athletic
18Arizona State
Sun Devils
Pacific 12
19TexasLonghornsBig 12
20OregonDucksPacific 12
21Florida State
SeminolesAtlantic Coast
Pacific 12
23Ohio State
BuckeyesBig Ten
Scarlet Knights
Big Ten
25MichiganWolverinesBig Ten

Get the latest rankings at AP’s Top 25 Poll

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