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NCAA BASKETBALL BETTING 2020
The 2019-2020 college basketball season has one month left before Selection Sunday. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is not that far away. College basketball’s regular season is almost over, which means single-elimination tournament basketball is just around the corner.
Here is a brief look at what the calendar looks like for the transition between regular-season basketball and tournament basketball:
On Saturday, February 29 (this year is a leap year) and Sunday, March 1, many of the various smaller conferences play their final regular-season games. Those conferences then begin their tournaments several days later. As an example, the Missouri Valley Conference finishes its season on Feb. 29 and then begins its four-day conference tournament on Thursday, March 5 with first-round play. Friday, March 6 has the quarterfinals. Saturday has the semis, and Sunday, March 8 has the championship game. Other small conferences will play tournament championship games on the first full weekend of March, marking the first automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament.
In sum, there are 32 automatic bids and 36 at-large bids for the 68-team NCAA Tournament. The automatic bids go to the winners of the conference tournaments. The 36 at-large bids go to the best teams not to win those conference tournaments.
The smaller conferences play their tournaments in the first week of March. The so-called “Power Five” conferences with major state schools (ACC, Big Ten, SEC, etc.) play their conference tournaments in the second week of March, leading up to Selection Sunday, March 15, when the 68 teams will be announced for the Big Dance. The four regions with the seeding and brackets for the whole tournament will be unveiled at 6 p.m. Eastern time, 3 Pacific.
The tournament begins with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18. Two games will be played on each night, one between a pair of No. 16 seeds, with the winner facing a No. 1 seed two days later in the round of 64. The other games will be games between “bubble teams” which barely made the field of 68 as at-large teams. Those bubble teams have No. 11 or No. 12 seeds.
After the First Four ends, the Round of 64 begins with large-scale action on Thursday, March 19, and Friday, March 20. The Round of 32 unfolds on Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22.
Then comes the Sweet 16, otherwise referred to as the regional semifinals, in the second week of the tournament. This year’s regional semifinals will take place on Thursday, March 26, and Friday, March 27. The winners of the Sweet 16 move to the Elite Eight for the regional finals on Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29.
The survivors advance to the 2020 Final Four in Atlanta. The national semifinals will be on Saturday, April 4, with Game 1 at 6:09 p.m. Eastern and Game 2 being 40 minutes after the end of Game 1. The national championship game will be Monday, April 6 at 9:21 Eastern time in Mercedez-Benz Stadium.
See our guide on March Madness
Now that you have the calendar for what’s ahead, let’s consider some futures bets and some college basketball lines.
NCAA BASKETBALL FUTURES FOR 2020
The landscape of futures bets is not that hard to grasp. As teams accumulate results, you will get a better idea of how many teams are performing, or will be expected to perform in March for the NCAA Tournament. This added clarity affects the prices for the various competing teams. Teams that are piling up wins and are therefore more likely to get a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament will be priced such that you won’t get as big a return on your bet. Teams which lose and move down the seeding list will get a larger return if you place a correct futures bet on them to win the NCAA Tournament.
Obviously, then, if you can identify a No. 4 seed which might surprise everyone and win the NCAA Tournament, that kind of futures bet will provide a huge payday. Yet, No. 4 seeds don’t always win the tournament, and moreover, you might think you have the correct No. 4 seed, but it might be the OTHER number four seed which gets hot, not the one you identified.
Let’s sample the current college basketball odds for a small sample size of NCAA title contenders:
Gonzaga is priced at +800. The Zags will be a No. 1 seed this March, barring an abrupt turn of events. They were a No. 1 seed last year but did not make the Final Four. They lost in the Elite Eight to Texas Tech.
Oregon is priced at +1200. The Ducks have not lost a home game yet this season but are not dominating the Pac-12, which represents a failure to meet preseason expectations. The Ducks might get something in the neighborhood of a No. 3 or No. 4 seed, and they will not stay close to home in the West Region. They will get shipped to another region.
Kentucky is priced at +2000. The Wildcats will probably not be seeded any higher than No. 4, and could easily be seeded at No. 5. They lost to a bad Evansville team early in the season and lost to a mediocre South Carolina team in January. They also lost to Utah, another team which won’t make the NCAA Tournament. Something has to happen for Kentucky in order for the Wildcats to inspire confidence in their ability. They are rightly considered a longshot at this point.
BEST NCAA BASKETBALL BETTING SITES
There are a number of great options when it comes to betting on NCAAB matchups. Here is a look at our favorite sportsbooks for betting on college basketball:
LIVE NCAA BASKETBALL BETTING
Let’s dive right into an example of what happens here:
Arkansas is favored by five points over Texas A&M. However, nine minutes into the game, Texas A&M takes a 12-point lead. This means that for Arkansas to cover the five-point spread, the Razorbacks need to make up not just the 12-point deficit, but six more points. Arkansas needs to swing the game 18 points in its favor if it is going to cover.
If you bet on Arkansas to win by more than the five-point spread, you might realize that you are going to lose the original bet you made before the game. Live betting gives you the chance to make an in-game bet to reduce or eliminate the amount of money you lost on your original bet. This isn’t necessarily a bet on Texas A&M. You might get an adjusted in-game line with Texas A&M being a 1-point favorite. You might bet on Arkansas to cover that one-point line in favor of A&M. In that case, Arkansas has to swing 14 points from the 12-point deficit, not 18. You still think Arkansas will win the game outright, but Arkansas just has to win by one point, not by six, to cover.
There can also be a half-specific bet you can make during a game. Let’s say Texas A&M leads by 10 at halftime. You might not think Arkansas will win the game outright, but you might be convinced Arkansas will make the game a lot closer. You might see an online betting opportunity in which BetOnline or another outlet enables you to bet on Arkansas minus-6 in the second half. This means if Arkansas outscores Texas A&M by 7 or more points in the second half, you win that bet for the second half. Arkansas might lose the game outright by three points, but if it outscores A&M by seven and you had Arkansas -6 in the second half, you win. Live betting gives you these kinds of “hedge your bet” opportunities.
You can get similar action not just on half-specific bets or adjusted college basketball spreads, but also on adjusted totals, referring to the amount of points which will be scored by one team or both teams in a game. You can bet on whether teams will go over or under those numerical totals, hence the term “over-under bet.”
You can also place a moneyline bet, referring to the outright winner of a game, not to specific college basketball point spreads. You can also bet on player stats – which player will have the most rebounds, points, etc., or over-under totals on player points and other stats.
NCAA BASKETBALL BETTING TIPS 2020
College basketball can be a wildly unpredictable sport. That’s what makes it so much fun as there’s madness during the NCAA Tournament. If it was predictable, they surely wouldn’t use a word like that to describe it.
However, if you follow just a few tips, you can help improve your chances of winning. Here’s what we recommend:
- Do Your Homework
Make sure you read the game previews, study the matchups and dive into the stats. There are some well-known sites like ESPN.com where you can get a basic rundown and general picks, and you can use sites like KenPom.com that give you advanced stats on all of the teams. You really want to have a good read on the game before betting it.
- Don’t Bet Every Game
Of course, it can be exciting to have some action on all of the games but the key here is to find out where you have an edge. If you’re betting a game just because it’s on television, that’s where things start to go awry. Stick to the games where you studied the lines and the matchup, and determined that one side has an edge. You want to make calculated decisions with sports betting and not just coin-flip guesses.
- Get The Best Betting Line
Make sure you shop around. Almost always, sportsbooks will have different NCAA basketball lines on the games. Let’s say you’re betting Duke and they’re -2.5 at Heritage Sports but they’re -3 at BetOnline and -2 at Bovada. If you’re betting Duke, you want to bet them at Bovada to increase your chances of winning. If you’re betting their opponent, you’ll want to bet at BetOnline to get the most points. That’s a big key to succeeding.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAS VEGAS NCAA LINES AND OTHER NCAAB LINES
This is a lot less complicated than it sounds: sports betting sites get their own betting action. The money coming in on bets at one sportsbook will be different from the money coming in on bets at another sportsbook. The NCAA basketball betting lines move (or don’t move) based on the individual sportsbook’s action, not based on what happens at other books. You want to make sure you shop around from book to book to get the best line to increase your chances of winning. That’s very hard to do with Las Vegas CBB lines but quite easy to do if you’re betting online.
NCAA BASKETBALL TEAMS TO WATCH IN THE 2021 NCAA TOURNAMENT
As we enter the offseason, these are the top four favorites for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, according to BetOnline.
2019-20 Record: 31-2
Head coach: Mark Few
Opening 2021 March Madness Odds: +900
2019-20 Record: 23-7
Head coach: Tony Bennett
Opening 2021 March Madness Odds: +900
2019-20 Record: 28-3
Head coach: Bill Self
Opening 2021 March Madness Odds: +1000
2019-20 Record: 25-6
Head coach: John Calipari
Opening 2021 March Madness Odds: +1200
NCAA COACHING CHANGES IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
First-year coaches with teams which will be in the 2020 NCAA Tournament include Juwan Howard of Michigan, who replaced the immensely successful John Beilein this past offseason. There is a chance that Cincinnati could make the tournament, in which case first-year coach John Brannen would make the Big Dance.
Some coaches are not in their first season with a school, but could make their first NCAA Tournament appearance with that school. The Big Ten has multiple candidates: Brad Underwood could make his first Big Dance at Illinois, and Steve Pikiell could make his first NCAA Tournament at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are trying to get their first NCAA bid since 1991.
2020 NCAA MARCH MADNESS
The NCAA Tournament is always a betting magnet. Last year, Forbes Magazine said nearly 47 million Americans will bet a projected estimate of $8.5 billion on the Big Dance. Slightly more than half of that projected total is expected to come from bracket pools, slightly less than half on individual NCAA Tournament games, of which there are 67.
The dates for the 2020 NCAA Tournament were mentioned above, but here are the locations for the various stages of the tournament:
First Four (March 17-18): Dayton, Ohio (Dayton ALWAYS hosts the First Four)
First-Round Thursday, March 19: Albany, NY; Spokane, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tampa, FL
First-Round Friday, March 20: Greensboro, NC; Omaha, NE; Sacramento, CA; Cleveland, OH
Second-Round Saturday, March 21: Albany-Spokane-St. Louis-Tampa
Second-Round Sunday, March 22: Greensboro-Omaha-Sacramento-Cleveland
Sweet 16 Thursday (regional semifinals), March 26: Midwest Regional in Indianapolis, West Regional in Los Angeles
Sweet 16 Friday, March 27: East Regional in New York, South Regional in Houston
Elite 8 Saturday (regional finals), March 28: Midwest and West finals
Elite 8 Sunday, March 29: East and South finals
Final Four National Semifinal Saturday, April 4: Atlanta, GA (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
National Championship Game: Monday, April 6 in Atlanta
College Basketball FAQ
The moneyline is a type of bet that allows you to bet on the outright winner of the game. For example, if you bet Duke on the moneyline and they win the game – by 1 or by 50 – then you win your bet.
You can bet college basketball by selecting the outright winner of the game (moneyline), betting the point spread (margin of victory) or the over-under (the combined score of the two teams in the game).
The line refers to the point spread, which is a margin of victory. For example, if Duke is favored by 2.5, they have to win by three or more for you to cover the spread. The opponent can lose by two, one or win, and they would cover.
The point spread is a margin of victory. If North Carolina is favored by 1.5, they have to win by two or more to cover. On the other hand, their opponent could lose the game by one or win the game and they would cover.
NCAA basketball is another way of referring to American college basketball. The NCAA is the National Collegiate Athletic Association and they oversee American college athletics, including college basketball.
Either 29 (for most teams), or 27 plus a maximum of four games in an early-season neutral-site tournament (meaning 31 for teams which win those four-game tournaments). Remember, this applies to all games BEFORE, not including, the conference tournament.
The NET rating is the main formula used to help the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee select and seed the 68 teams for the NCAA Tournament. The NET’s main feature is that it responds to and recognizes margin of victory. Losing by 25 or 3 points will significantly affect NET rankings. The formula called the RPI (ratings percentage index) used to be the main baseline formula or standard used by the committee. The NET has replaced the RPI, effective last year. This is the second year with the NET rankings. You can find them at the NCAA.com website.