Basketball Betting Odds

Understanding Basketball Betting Odds

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Whether you're wagering on the NBA or NCAA, basketball betting is always a thrilling experience. Not only do you get to watch an exciting game, but you also have the chance to win some cash.

Are you sold on how enjoyable basketball wagering can be yet? If so, you should definitely understand the main odds associated with placing bets on hoops. This being said, let's look at how American odds and decimal odds work with the different types of basketball lines available.


One of the most common ways in which NCAA and NBA basketball betting lines are expressed is through the moneyline. With this bet, you're simply wagering on the team that will win the game. But in order to avoid having everybody bet on the favorite, odds are attached to each team in the moneyline.

American odds are quite common in both NBA and NCAA moneylines because these organizations are based in the United States. Below you can see how the odds would look in a moneyline:

Atlanta Hawks -140
Charlotte Bobcats +170

With this line, you'd need to bet $140 on the Hawks in order to earn $100 in profit. As for the underdog Bobcats, you'd win $170 for every $100 wagered. Now you don't need to risk $100 or $140 just to make either bet; this is simply the easiest way to express how American odds work.

Moving along, decimal odds are quite popular at sportsbooks that are based in Europe and Canada. And if you already understand the American version, decimal odds aren't any tougher to learn. Here you can see an example:

Utah Jazz 1.80
Portland Trailblazers 2.40

Here you'd stand to win $0.80 in profit ($1.80 total) for every $1 wagered on the Jazz. Likewise, a winning Trailblazers bet would yield a $1.40 profit ($2.40 overall) for each $1 bet. Using a more common example, if you made a winning $10 wager on Utah, you'd earn $8 in profit ($18 overall).

Point Spread

Another frequently-seen type of basketball line is the point spread. A point spread gives the favorite and underdog a certain number of points, which they must cover in order for a wager to be successful. In other words, bettors aren't wagering on a team winning the game, but rather if they can cover the amount of points they're given. You can see how this works through the American odds example below:

Wake Forest +3.5
Clemson -3.5

In this instance, the favorite Clemson must win by four or more points to cover the spread. Wake Forest, on the other hand, must lose by three points or less (or win) for a bet on them to be successful.

In regard to a decimal odds version of the point spread, you simply add these odds at the end of the line. You can see how this works using the Wake Forest/Clemson game:

Wake Forest +3.5 1.91
Clemson -3.5 1.91

As the above example shows, the spread stays the same when decimal odds are added. And the decimal merely shows that you can win $0.91 profit for every $1 wagered on either Clemson or Wake Forest.



One more line that's worth discussing in regard to American and decimal odds is totals (a.k.a. over/under). Totals is an extremely easy bet to make because you're wagering on if the two teams will combine for more or less than the given points line. Here's an example with American odds:

Boston Celtics 195.5 (-110)
Philadelphia 76ers 195.5 (-110)

You can either bet that the Celtics and 76ers will score over 195.5 points or under this amount. Also, the -110 indicates that you're betting $110 to win $100.

Moving to decimals odds for the aforementioned Boston/Philadelphia game, you might see a line written like this:

Boston Celtics 195.5 (1.91)
Philadelphia 76ers 195.5 (1.91)

The idea remains the same here; it's just that you're being showed the amount of money you stand to win in a different format. In other words, you can earn $0.91 in profit for every $1 wagered.

Once you get a solid understanding of how decimal and American odds fit into various lines, you'll feel much more confident about the games. And the next step from here is simply learning as much basketball betting strategy as you can.