NBA vs. College Basketball Betting

Options abound at online sportsbooks, but some sports are just more popular than others. Hoops is one of those at the top of the charts, and it’s the same whether we’re talking about the college or pro game. The NBA is one of the biggest overall drivers of handle, while college basketball brings us one of the biggest betting events of the year in March Madness.

For those looking to wager on basketball, there are pros and cons to wagering on both sports, as well as plenty of crossover that you can lean on between the two. Is one of the two better for betting on an overall basis? We’ll help you find the answer to that question right here. Join us as we compare the betting landscape for college basketball and the NBA.

Which sport brings in more betting action — NBA or NCAAB?

The NBA is the second-most popular sport at NY sportsbooks behind the NFL. Each game from the first tipoff of the regular season to the NBA Finals will see lots of betting action. The high-scoring sport is a favorite in terms of general interest, and that directly translates over to the betting window.

College basketball betting, meanwhile, is a top choice for many seasoned handicappers. There are tons of games to choose from throughout the regular season, and interest reaches its peak once Madness Madness betting odds become available.

  • Bottom line: The NBA is the more popular betting option on an overall basis. However, the sheer number of games on the college basketball docket opens the door to tons of opportunities. Since the two sports have a lot in common, there’s a case to be made for trying both.

Main bets for NBA vs. college basketball

You’ll find the same standard bet types available for both college and pro basketball. When you click on the NBA or NCAA link at sportsbooks, all of the upcoming games will appear in the betting lobby. For each game, you’ll see a listing like this:

  • New York Knicks +3.5 (-110)      +155    O 214.5 (-110)
  • Brooklyn Nets        -3.5 (-110)       -175     U 214.5 (-110)

The game listing will have the teams that are scheduled to compete and the tipoff time for the contest. Right next to the team names are numbers that represent the odds and lines for the three main wager types: point spread, moneyline, and total.

  • Moneyline: Pick the team you think will win the game outright.
  • Point spread: Take the favorite minus the points or the underdog plus the spread.
  • Total: Choose over or under on the total number of points in the game.

When reading the sportsbook odds, you can determine the favorite by noting the direction of the spread and moneyline: negative numbers for favorites and positive values for underdogs. For our example, the Nets are 3.5-point favorites on the spread, and also favored on the moneyline in a game with a projected total of 214.5 points.

All three bet types will bring in their share of volume. Point spreads are very popular for both sports, as are totals. Moneylines are a great entry point for new bettors, but not much in the way of value is available when there’s a big favorite. Those looking to bet on that game may lean toward the spread instead. Beyond the big three, here are two more popular ones to consider.

  • Props: For each individual game, there will likely be a wide range of props available. You can find them by clicking on the listing. Props can be based on the game, team or players. Here’s an example of what you might see.

Who will have more points plus rebounds in the game?

    • Julius Randle +155
    • Kevin Durant -135

Live sports betting: You can also bet on both sports in real-time. Once the game’s tip-off, you’ll find live betting markets in the sportsbook lobby. Things move fast, and offers will vary, but examples include:

Which side will hold the halftime lead?

  • Villanova +110
  • Gonzaga -120

In short, you’ll be able to bet on both sports in the same way. Beyond the options above, you can also place sports wagers such as futures, parlays, and teasers on both NBA and NCAA games. If you’re worried about options, you’ll have plenty of choices regardless of which sport you play.

Which sport is more profitable to bet on — NBA or NCAAB?

Unfortunately, deciding to wager on one particular sport doesn’t automatically result in profits. Your success will be determined by both your skill level and approach. Based on that, the chances of achieving profitability in either sport are about even, but you can still drill down and look at some factors to help you decide which one may be for you.

If you like games that will receive lots of coverage and feature superstars on the floor, then the NBA is the place to be. For those who like to do some digging to uncover an edge, then college basketball may prove to be the choice. If the number of games per day is a thing, then the college basketball regular season daily slates are much more packed with options.

Regardless of which direction you go, the chances of scoring some profits come down to how well you handicap the games. It’s certainly possible to find an edge in either sport, so it really comes down to personal preference in terms of where to start. If you can’t decide, then get started with the marquee games in both and see what works best for you and your style.

Public betting numbers are easier to track for NBA

Since there are fewer games on an average NBA slate in comparison to college basketball, public betting numbers are easier to track for the pros, and that metric receives more attention as a result. Wagering tends to be more spread out on the college side, but where the public action is going will tend to be a talking point for the marquee affairs.

These are the games that are nationally televised or ones that pit a pair of Top 25 teams against each other. Games of this nature are the biggest highlights of a packed day of NCAAB action, so they’ll attract the most interest from the general public. Meanwhile, there will be lots of other games that fly under the radar.

When handicapping games in either sport, it can be worthwhile to take a look at where the public money is going. There are a number of sites that track this information in percentage form, and you can also get a sense for it by watching line movement. While it’s a point to consider, it’s not something that you should be basing your betting decisions on.

Which bets are most popular in the NBA?

Spreads and totals are the biggest drivers of action in the NBA, but there are also spots in which the moneyline can make plenty of sense. When teams are relatively evenly matched with a spread of just a few points, you can find some value on the moneyline. If there’s a massive favorite, that side doesn’t make much sense for wagering.

However, if you spot an upset, you could be in line for a nice haul due to the odds. That said, don’t force your decisions based on potential returns. You should only be placing bets based on what you feel as the most likely outcome. If you can’t get a read or are unsure, pass on the game and look for another opportunity.

Most of the conversation in gambling circles will focus on the point spread and over/under. Now that sports betting in New York is receiving more mainstream attention, you’ll find most coverage slanted toward these two wagers, as well. Props are also very popular in the high-scoring NBA, as is the futures market.

What are the most popular NCAA basketball bets?

The point spread bet is at the top of the charts for many college basketball handicappers. Similar to college football, there can be a lot of paper mismatches in which big schools face-off with lesser foes. While the moneyline odds will reflect the imbalance, the spread levels the playing field and makes the contest more interesting.

For the moneyline, it’s a matter of finding the value on favorites or picking your spots with underdogs. Totals receive plenty of attention on the college side as well, but not quite at the level of what you would find for the pro game. The same holds true for props, albeit for different reasons.

Some states have restrictions on props and live betting on amateur games. As such, the NCAA market can have fewer of those bets across the board than what you would find in the NBA. Futures markets, though, are very popular when betting on college basketball. Options such as the winner of the national championship and teams to make the Final Four will receive lots of interest.

Why should I bet on the NBA?

When looking into betting on the NBA or any other sport, you should begin with a realistic assessment of various factors. You should base it on the knowledge base you’re beginning with, how long it will take you to get up to speed, and what kind of time commitment you’re looking at, for example.

After you have a handle on that, it’s time to start building the case for and against wagering on it. For the NBA, here are a few of the biggest positives.

  • Second-most popular sport for betting in the US.
  • Lots of coverage makes it easy to research and stay on top of things.
  • Plenty of betting options to focus on.

Naturally, it’s not all roses and daisies, so you’ll want to consider the trouble spots you may encounter. Here are a few of the top issues for NBA betting.

  • Travel and fatigue can have a big impact on the court.
  • Injury information can be tough to track.
  • Challenging to bet the spread on a long-term basis.

At the end of the day, you have to weigh all of the pros and cons and decide what makes the most sense for you and your strategy. There’s a lot to love about betting on the NBA, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. If you’re willing to spend the time it takes to learn and improve, it can certainly be a welcome addition to your overall sports betting strategy.

Why should I bet on college basketball?

For the college game, you should take the same approach. There are plenty of arguments for and against betting on it, but it ultimately comes down to what works best for you. Here are a few factors on the positive side:

  • Tons of games to choose from during the regular season.
  • Get a leg up on the competition for March Madness.
  • Can take a very focused approach with certain conferences, etc.

When going through the negatives, look beyond things like general familiarity and really zero in on things that could be problematic. Here are some potential issues with betting on college hoops:

  • News and notes can be tough to track outside of marquee games and March Madness.
  • Dozens of games to sort through daily.
  • Spreads for heavily bet games can be tough to crack.

After you’ve completed a full assessment of both sports, you can decide which of the two works for you. Many handicappers find that there’s room to do both, so that’s certainly a viable option. As always, you can start small and build up your skills while looking to figure out which one to focus more of your efforts on.

Should new sports bettors focus on the NBA or NCAA?

For starters, consider which of the two games you have more general familiarity with and begin there. If it’s a toss-up on that front, then you can consider picking your spots with high-profile games in both and see which one you like better. As a general rule, it can be easier to track the news on the NBA side, which is a plus for those new to the game. The bigger NCAA games will see similar coverage, as will all of the games in March Madness.

Is the NBA or college basketball better for sportsbook promos?

On a daily basis, a slight edge goes to the NBA side. This is one of the most heavily bet sports at online sportsbooks, so oddsmakers will pay plenty of attention while looking to maximize revenue. That said, NCAA basketball is also popular and will see its fair share of promos as a result. When March Madness comes around, you won’t have to look far at all. This is one of the most popular betting events of the year, and sportsbooks will go all out as a result.

Does it make sense to bet on both or stick to one?

This will really depend on your familiarity with the two sports, overall comfort level and available time. If you have a good feel for both, then it definitely makes sense to pick your spots depending on the slate of games. For those who like one but don’t know much about the other, begin with the former and consider branching out as your skills advance. Lastly, if you find that you have a knack for one over the other, there’s your answer. You can always spend free time brushing up on the other and expand your play when time permits.

Will buying picks help for NBA and NCAAB betting?

Unless you’re just looking to blindly follow the recommendations of others, buying picks doesn’t make much sense. Even then, it’s really tough to make a case. The unfortunate reality is that the picks industry is flooded with less than desirable options. As such, you should only be buying picks from reputable purveyors that you have vetted extensively. As opposed to spending the money on buying picks, take a patient approach and try to build up your skills to the level at which you can find some consistency.

Where do favorites have more of an edge — NBA or college basketball?

It really depends on the size of the favorite and the venue for the game. If we’re talking about a big home favorite, that’s where the edge is pretty pronounced in both sports, at least on the moneyline. That said, upsets can and will happen, sometimes when you least expect them. As for betting against the spread, one thing that can be helpful is taking a look at how the teams have fared on that metric for the season at hand. When a team has a strong ATS record, that’s something to consider, and vice versa.

Is the NBA or NCAA better for live betting?

On an overall basis, the nod goes to the NBA. There are more choices to consider and a much wider assortment of available props. For college, you’ll find opportunities for nationally televised and March Madness games, but the market isn’t quite as big for random regular-season tilts. In the NBA, there are fewer games, but each of them will bring in the betting action.

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