With the NBA season spanning from late October to mid-June, and the college game running from November to April, there is almost always a slate of basketball games to bet on throughout the year. There is also no shortage of types of basketball bets; bettors can handicap a game and then bet it the way they want to. Here is a list of the most common types of basketball bets placed at the top basketball sportsbooks.
Point Spreads – Unlike most sports in which money line betting is the most common type of wager, basketball (like football) is most commonly bet with a point spread. Generally, both sides can be bet at -110 (bet $110 to win $100), and the discrepancy between the two teams is made up by a points handicap. For example, a standard point spread line would look like this: Team A -5.5 vs. Team B +5.5. If a bettor selects Team A -5.5, Team A must win by at least six points for the wager to be a winner. If a bettor selects Team B, the wager is a winner if Team B wins outright or loses by five points or less. Wagering on basketball point spreads give favorite bettors a chance to bet their team with less chalk, and underdog bettors a chance to bet their team with some extra points as insurance.
Over/Unders – In Over/Under bets, bookmakers set a total number of points to be scored between the two teams combined, and bettors can bet whether the actual amount of points scored will be OVER or UNDER the set total. For example, if the total is set at 195, bettors are betting on whether the combined score of both teams will be over 195 or under 195. Totals vary greatly depending on the styles of the teams playing; most totals are set in the 190-210 range, but a matchup between two defensive or offensively-challenged teams can be set in the 170 range, and a matchup between two up-tempo offensive teams can be set in the 230 range. Overtime is included in the total, so most games that go to overtime tend to go OVER.
Money Lines – Bettors that don’t want to bet their team on the point spread also have the choice of betting them on the basketball money line. When betting on the money line, the discrepancy between the two teams is reflected in the price of each team. Instead of a line like Team A -110 vs. Team B -110, if Team A is favored, you’d see something like Team A -150 (Bet $150 to win $100) vs. Team B +130 (Bet $100 to win $130). Favorite bettors that are confident their team will win but don’t want to give up points on the point spread can pay a little extra chalk on the money line instead, while underdog bettors that believe their team will win outright can get a better price than they would taking the points.
Parlays – A parlay wager is when a bettor selects two or more basketball sides, and all sides selected must win in order for the bet to be a winner. The more sides (also known as legs) that the bettor adds to the parlay, the better the payout will be if all of the legs win. Bettors that are very confident with multiple games can opt to parlay their selections for a much better payout than they would have received if they bet each game individually. But the chance for an increased payout obviously comes with increased risk considering every leg must win, so bettors should choose when to use parlays wisely.
Propositions – Proposition basketball bets are a wide range of bets on specific team and player statistics as well as in-game occurrences. Bettors can bet on things such as the Over/Under on how many points or rebounds specific players will have, or which team will score or get to 10 points first. Some propositions are more for entertainment value than anything else (such as which team will score first), but if in handicapping a game you see a matchup that could make for a great (or terrible) day for a specific player, shop around for some player scoring props so you can make some wagers on your observations.