Understanding college basketball lines (spreads, betting lines, etc) is going to be very similar to understanding NBA betting lines. So with that being said, we’re just going to refer you to that chapter in our NBA Guide and be done with it.
Come on. You know us better than that. That would be way to easy. While our chapter on NBA Betting Lines will cover a ton of details relating to basketball spreads in general, we’ll specifically cover some betting line information as it relates to the college game within this chapter.
While college basketball lines do read the same way as the NBA, there’s much more to it than just that (especially when it comes to the very erratic movement of them…and yes, we do mean erratic…specifically on initial lines and also closer to game time).
On a serious note though, please first read the NBA Betting Lines chapter because it will share a ton of information that will certainly enlighten you to the intricacies of basketball point spreads and totals. Not that I’m biased, but I personally don’t think you’ll find this kind of insight anywhere else.
With that said, let’s look at the college game specifically within in this chapter. While there are many similarities when comparing college lines to that of the professional game, there are differences as well.
College Basketball Lines – Beware of Volatility
If you thought NBA lines moved throughout the day, simply check out the line movement you’ll see in college on any given Saturday. Not only can the totals bounce or fall by 5 or 10 points (we’ll talk more below), but the sides can show extreme volatility as well.
While I’m not saying you have to sit around and watch a line service all day, it is still very important to be aware of line movement and how it can play a major factor in your handicapping.
Obviously, it would be nice to be ahead of the movement, but that’s simply impossible…no matter how sharp you are. However, it is important to watch the moves after the initial lines are set, as well as closer to game time…these moves are typically being generated by the well informed (sharp) bettors.
Early on in the season (because so many other sports are going on and an accurate line is so difficult to set), a small wager can can move the college basketball line quite easily…especially if it’s coming from the right person (and even more so on totals).
The most important factor though, is to follow what your own data is telling you and bet as early as you can if the number is right (especially in the first couple months of the season). Lines can move significantly out of your range, thus resulting in having to pass on a wager that at one time showed value.
Once conference play hits though, and more money is being bet on the college game, lines become a little more stable. Obviously, the less significant the school or game, the more significant the movement can be, even with lesser amounts wagered.
If you specialize in one or two smaller conferences (College Basketball Betting Advice), it’s best to either place your wagers early or follow the action very closely throughout the day, simply because the line movement could cause the value that you’ve perceived to go away quickly.
Obviously, with bigger games/schools, movement might not be as significant, but those college basketball lines will typically be a little tighter as well (however great value can be found in going against public teams playing on TV…we’ll talk more about this later in the guide).
The bottom line I’m trying to get across here is to try and follow the lines throughout the day as much as you can (if you have the time). If you don’t, then I’d recommend getting your bets in as early as possible, thus capitalizing on the value that you feel the line is giving you at that time (even betting overnights if available).
I would also suggest looking back at the lines prior to the start of games to possibly uncover anymore that may now fall within your parameters due to line moves throughout the day. Truly, it’s up to you how far you want to take, and it really just comes down to how much time you have.
College Basketball Lines – Totals
As of this writing, college basketball totals have become a market niche for a few handicappers that sell their plays (New Dimension Sports and Right Angle Sports, particularly). While I’ll just briefly make mention of totals here, we’ll discuss them in much greater detail within our Betting College Basketball Totals chapter.
If you thought sides were volatile, then just watch the totals market in college basketball lines…especially when a major service (like those we’ve listed above) release a play. It’s not surprising to see a total jump or fall 2-4 points in a matter of seconds, depending on the reputation of the service or group.
Early in the year, the totals market is even more volatile and you’ll see most sportsbooks hesitant to even set a line. Limits are also extremely limited and it’s actually not surprising to see a bet of under $500 move the line significantly.
As I said though, I want to keep this chapter pretty simple and to the basics since we’ll be dedicating an entire chapter to the totals market. Just know that opportunities can certainly be found, which of course is why sportsbooks have reduced limits and are extremely hesitant to even post a line early in the season.
College Basketball Lines – Wrap Up
I don’t think we uncovered anything groundbreaking here, but I did want to reinforce what was stated in our NBA Betting Lines chapter as it relates to college basketball lines. While college hoops can be overwhelming to get used to because of the amount of teams, it’s definitely one of the looser markets that can be exploited.
We’ve gone over the first step here by covering college basketball lines, but we’ll continue to build chapter by chapter. Understanding the lines and how they work in the college game is extremely important and something that can’t be understood overnight.
Take the time to follow the lines on a daily basis to see where the money is going and what lines are moving. The more structured and refined strategy you develop, the sharper you’re going to be.