Differences Between Betting On NBA And College Basketball

Written by on November 14, 2016

In theory, betting on the NBA and betting on college basketball shouldn’t be that different, as both involve talented players, more-or-less the same courts and similar rules. But in reality, there are many differences in these two disciplines, especially for basketball betting enthusiasts. In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the top differences and how you can use them to guide your basketball wagers in the NBA and NCAAB.

Analyzing The Differences Between Betting On NBA And College Basketball


Structural Differences

The NBA is constituted of just 30 teams that play repeatedly against each in the course of an 82-game regular season. Playing more games against same teams often creates some ‘evenness in the league’ where upsets can happen even to the best of teams, so a careful study of the lines is required when handicapping NBA games. In the NCAAB, latest estimates puts the number of Division I college basketball teams at around 347 with typically 30-35 games during the regular season and a handful more matchups in the NCAA tournament. The less physicality in playing fewer games in college basketball and rarely having to go against the same opponent more than twice means more clear-cut competition in the NCAAB, no wonder the betting trends and lines in college basketball tend to be stricter and truer.

Scheduling Differences

The rigorous NBA schedule usually has teams playing as many as four or five games in a week with travels all over the country, sometimes even on back-to-back nights. The fatigue and lapses that come with this packed schedule can easily lead to mismatches, injuries and plenty of suspensions that alter the course of games in a challenging way. For college basketball, it is usually the exact opposite, as teams play once or twice a week, and that gives a lot of room for rest and better game plans to make up for issues such as injuries and suspensions. Resultantly, handicapping NCAAB games is often easier as opposed to the frenzied NBA.

Talent Differences

In the NBA, most—if not all—players are professionals and that means competitiveness in the league even in games involving ‘weak’ vs. ‘strong’ teams. This, in essence, is the reason why even the worst teams can beat or even cover the spread against the best teams. In NCAA basketball, you will rarely find upsets involving weak vs. strong teams. This is why teams like Duke and Kentucky often win and cover the spread rather easily and consistently against weak teams. Of course, this disparity is usually accounted for in the basketball lines, where superior NBA teams are favored by 15-25 points at most while superior NCAAB teams can be favored by as many as 40-50 points.

Home Court Advantage

There is arguably no sports discipline where home court advantage is as strong and more profound than in college basketball. Elite NCAAB teams will always have a very strong chance of winning games at home based on their ability to feed off the support from their fans. A good example of this solid advantage is the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team that has ridiculous a 206–9 (.958) record at Allen Fieldhouse under head coach Bill Self, which includes win streaks of 69, 33, and an active streak of 40 entering 2016-17 NCAAB season. In the NBA, teams like Cleveland and Golden State have recently established themselves as strong home court teams, though any team is pretty much beatable on any given night at home provided the opponent is able to rise to the occasion. In the 2015-16 NBA season, for example, the Golden State Warriors had a historic 73-9 season that included a 39-2 record at home, but those two home defeats came against two of the worst teams in the year in Boston and Minnesota. Caution must therefore be observed when betting on home teams in the NBA, even when the odds are looking really good in their favor.

OVER/UNDER Total Betting

NBA games usually last for 48 minutes (excluding overtimes) which is divided into 12 minutes per quarter. Conversely, college basketball games last for 40 minutes divided into two 20-minute halves. As a result, NBA games tend to deliver higher-scoring totals, especially with the pros going against each other in a professional way. The NCAAB games, on the other hand, are relatively low-scoring with plenty of time wastage in games due to the 30-second college basketball shot clock as opposed to NBA’s 24-second shot clock. You should, however, note that different teams play different styles in both the NBA and the NCAAB, and these styles vary on a game-to-game basis depending on the opponent faced.

In the NBA, for instance, the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors are typically high-scoring team while Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs tend to play better defense. When two high-scoring teams are pitted against each other, like the Warriors and T-Wolves, you will most likely get a big-scoring game. But when you have a team like Golden State and San Antonio playing against each other, anything can always happen due to the contrasting styles and the tempo established in the game. More factors, such as home vs. away splits, historical trends and momentum must therefore be factored if you are to have a true betting assessment of a game, be it in college basketball or the NBA.

Final Remarks

As has been glimpsed above, betting on college basketball games is generally easier compared to the NBA. That ease doesn’t, however, always translate into profits, as some lines have too much juice get you any meaningful returns. If you are a basketball bettor, your focus should therefore be on trying to find value bets in both the NBA and NCAAB while using the sportsbetting tips highlighted above to guide your basketball wagers.