NCAA Basketball: What You Must Know In Order to Bet Successfully

  • 02 Jan 2018
    4 min. read

Many of us have more or less experienced a situation when there are no events from our favorite leagues to bet on. However, in this cases very often you might stumble upon National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).


This should come as no surprise since Division I this season has 351 (!) teams. They play in 32 different conferences so we can compare it to 32 separate basketball leagues. Of course, attention of the whole world comes to NCAA in the third month of year when March Madness start. It is the biggest NCAA play-offs competition featuring 68 teams that got seeded.

Actually, some of those teams (to be exact, 36 teams) win their conferences and get seeded while others are being picked on the Selection Sunday. It is an event during which the special committee discuss and select teams based on many criteria.

Since for majority of people living outside US NCAA is like a dark forest, SmartBettingGuide decided to provide you with the key information that you need in order to become a successful NCAA bettor.

Table of content

Conference and non-conference games / games against teams from other division

Every season starts with teams playing against opponents from other conferences. Sometimes opponents are even from other divisions (second or even third). Therefore, very often level of teams is very different as well as the hustle. In order to qualify for March Madness the most important games are conference games.

This is the main reason why many universities are kind of relaxed at the beginning of the season. Do not be surprised by big winning/losing margins since teams are very different. Some are good enough to compete in professional European leagues while others are really weak and only handful of players become professionals after school.


There hundreds of teams in NCAA, so it gets really hard to predict that are the best. Besides that, every year rosters change a lot and one loss can make team drop low in the power rankings. On other hand, it is clear that one loss should not be the key factor in deciding whether the A team can beat the B team.

Knowing all that, it is not surprising that if you ever manage to fill March Madness bracket perfectly, you could win millions of dollars (yes, there is a free lottery every year). Actually, a chance to guess every game of March Madness right is 1 to 9,223,372,036,854,777,808. Mathematically, any American has higher chances to become the president of the country.

Every year there are some teams that reach Sweet 16 unexpectedly. Probably there are no other league that has as many surprises.

One and done

The best prospects that start their NCAA career usually last only one season, before declaring to the NBA draft. These players are often called one and done. They do not stay long.

In addition to that, you can add seniors who graduate and in one summer team can change drastically. Of course, because of these conditions it is hard to keep playing good. Players themselves do not have time to get into the system and be really useful.

And if you wonder about one and done players, you may ask, whether they really care about team’s success or just their personal goals?

Different rules

In order to be successful at NCAA betting, you must know that rules in NCAA differ comparing to both NBA and FIBA basketball. Because of that, usually there is a much lower scoring average.

The key differences are:

  • Instead of 4 quarters, there are two 20 minute halves.
  • Shot clock is 35 seconds, therefore teams can run long plays and attempt less shots.
  • Three-point line is 6.25 meters away from the basket.

Besides all that, we should understand that there are no professional players in NCAA basketball. Every player is an amateur (especially in weak conferences), therefore the level of play is lower than an average viewer may expect.


Firstly, when pay attention, you will notice that there are not many NCAA betting events. Yes, there are many games and we have what to choose from. But usually these events are simple – you can bet on winner, handicap or point totals.

It is very likely you will never get a chance to bet on particular players’ scoring or other similar events.

There are many reasons for that, including offering of many games. It is understandably difficult to analyze that many games plus a really big number of them end in a way you would not expect. And once again – these players are not pros. Therefore, many of them might want to make some easy money, so the chance to do that is removed.

All in all, the most important things are these: to know injured players, importance of the game and the effect of home court advantage.

These are the basics needed to be smart while betting on NCAA events.

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