NCAA Basketball Betting Guide 2020-21

NCAAB Odds & Best Betting Sites

Pennsylvania sports bettors now have a choice of several legal retail and online sportsbooks for college basketball betting. And, unlike neighboring New Jersey, all college sports are available for wagering.

Opportunity abounds for college basketball betting between now and March when the field for NCAA March Madness is revealed. If you’re ready to get started, here’s how and where to bet on college basketball in Pennsylvania.

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For betting on college basketball from your phone in PA, DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks have the most popular apps, with FOX Bet a new contender on the scene.

1. DraftKings Sportsbook app – $25 free, up to $1,000 in bonuses

DraftKings offers point spreads, moneylines, and totals for every college basketball game plus alternate point spreads and alternative totals options.

draftkings appYou can also partake in live, in-play betting on select games with bets including 1st- and 2nd-half winners. Futures bets are also available on the app including:

  • Which team will win the national championship
  • Which teams will make the Final Four
  • Which player will win the John R. Wooden Award for College Basketball Player of the Year

The DraftKings app is available on iOS and Android. Take advantage of our $25 free bonus offer upon sign-up through our link below:

2. FOX Bet app – $20 free bet on sign-up

If you don’t already know it, FOX Bet is the combined sportsbook brand of media powerhouses Fox Sports and The Stars Group, the company behind PokerStars. The end result is similarly a powerhouse sportsbook and app with hundreds of betting options including NCAA college basketball. Within CBB betting you’ll find:

  • Moneylines
  • Point spreads
  • Totals
  • Halftime lines
  • Conference/national title futures
  • Player of the year futures
  • Props and live in-game betting

The FOX bet app is on both iOS and Android and free to download. Get $20 free and download the FOX Bet app:

3. FanDuel Sportsbook app – Up to $1,000 risk-free bet

FanDuel offers the core wagers for all college hoops games: point spread, moneyline, and total points. Also, there’s individual over/under totals for the home and away team.

If you don’t get a chance to place your bet prior to tip-off, FanDuel offers live, in-play betting on select games. Futures bets include:

  • Odds on making the Final Four
  • Odds on winning the national championship
  • Probability of receiving a No. 1 seed
  • Picking the conference of the national champion (For example the ACC is at +270, the Big East +950, etc.)

There are also futures wagers on individual conference winners for the Big East, Big Ten, ACC, and four other conferences. FanDuel offers pricing for the individual player to be honored with the Wooden trophy.

NCAA basketball odds 2020-21

The national championship odds for the title game in April are posted on multiple sportsbooks and updated continually as the season moves forward. Check our real-time odds feed below for all current NCAA championship odds.

When is March Madness 2021?

After the announcement of the field on Selection Sunday (March 14), March Madness begins two days later with the First Four play-in games in Dayton, Ohio.

The first and second rounds start on Thursday March 18 at various venues around the US. The Sweet 16 begins the following Thursday at regional sites in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Houston and New York.

The 2020 Final Four and National Championship game take place April 3-April 5 in Indianapolis. Here are the key dates and venues for the tournament:

  • March 16-17 First Four Dayton, OH
  • March 18-20 First and second rounds
  • March 19-21 First and second rounds
  • March 25-27 Midwest Regional
  • March 25-27 West Regional
  • March 26-28 East Regional
  • March 26-28 South Regional
  • April 3-5 Final Four Indianapolis

Pennsylvania programs expected to get a high seed in the 2021 NCAA tournament include Villanova and Penn St. Check our full guide to betting on March Madness in PA here:

March Madness Free Bracket Challenge Contests

While betting on individual March Madness games is typically your best bet for making a profit, the ubiquitous Bracket pool is the usual entry point into March Madness betting.

free march madness bracketsBeyond filling out a bracket among friends or co-workers for your yearly bracket pool you can also find free and paid bracket challenges at online sportsbooks. A couple of particular note:

DraftKings $250,000 Survivor Pool – The $250k Survivor is open to all new players across the US. Free to play, you simply need to pick a team each day. If that team wins, you move on to the next round.

DraftKings $16,000 Second Chance Bracket – if your bracket busts early you can try again in the $16k Sweet 16 challenge. Free to play; begins March 23.

Entry to both is entirely free; open a new DraftKings account via the link below:

Fox Bracket Challenge – A perfect bracket on FOX last year would have won you Cousin Sal’s actual house or $1m in cash; expect something similar in 2020

FanDuel $10,000 Props Pick’em – They pick the props; you pick the winners. If you hit them all you win a share of $10k in daily prizes.

Player of the Year (John R. Wooden Award) odds

The John R. Wooden Award is presented to “the outstanding college basketball player in the United States.” A candidate’s performance in the regular-season, conference tournaments and postseason are considered by voters, including the player’s character.

The top few favorites on DraftKings as of March 2020 are:

  • Obi Toppin (Dayton) -400
  • Luka Garza (Iowa) +150
  • Udoka Azubuike (Kanses.) +1500
  • Devon Dotson (Kansas) +1500
  • Markus Howard (Marquette) +2000

While not listed in the current odds, sophomore Saddiq Bey is one of the PA players to watch for Wooden trophy consideration. More on players of note in 2020:

  • Cassius Winston, Senior, Point Guard, Michigan State: Winston led the Spartans to last year’s Final Four along with earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Averages of 18.8 PPG and 7.5 APG should go up this year.
  • Vernon Carey Jr., Freshman, Center, Duke: The son of former NFL offensive lineman Vernon Carey is another pro-ready freshman at Duke with the offensive game to dominate inside.
  • Tre Jones, Sophomore, Point Guard, Duke:  Expect Jones to emerge from the shadow of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett as one of the best point guards in the country. He has some new weapons to deploy as well in Carey and Cassius Stanley.
  • Cole Anthony, Freshman, Point Guard, UNC: The son of former UNLV star and NBA announcer Greg Anthony, Cole was a McDonald’s All-American and a five-star recruit. He’s a strong contender for No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

Get $25 in free bets and bet NCAA futures at DraftKings Sportsbook

College basketball betting trends 2019-20

Michigan State began the preseason atop both polls with the core of last year’s Final Four team returning led by Cassius Winston.

The other projected national contenders, Kentucky and Duke, had multiple players leave school for the NBA. Still, both schools have seemingly reloaded with freshmen Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky) and Cassius Stanley (Duke) already making their impact.

Villanova began the season in the 10th spot in both polls but has since dropped back after some early-season struggles. Here’s a look at how some of the local teams size up to begin the year:

Villanova (Pre-season No. 10 in USA Today and AP)

In Pennsylvania, Villanova stands tall as a favorite in the Big East Conference and, once again, has sights set on the national title.

Head Coach: Jay Wright

2018-19 record: 26-10 (13-5, first in the Big East)
2018-19 postseason finish: Lost to Purdue in the second round
Key returners: Collin Gillespie, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Cole Swider
Key losses: Eric Paschall (NBA), Phil Booth, Joe Cremo
Key newcomers: Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Eric Dixon


Temple is a mid-major that is always in the March Madness picture, though this season the expectations are a little lower despite a 23-10 record last season and the departure of longtime coach Fran Dunphy. The team was on the right side of the bubble, earning an 11 seed at-large bid via a play-in game.

They fell to the Belmont Bruins and failed to make the official field of 64. This year, the talent may not be there for an at-large bid given this is a transition year for the Owls.

Head Coach: Aaron McKie

2018-19 record: 23-10 (4th of 12 in the American Athletic Conference)
2018-19 postseason finish: Lost to Belmont in the play-in round of the NCAA Tournament
Key returners: Quinton Rose, Alani Moore II, Nate Pierre-Louis
Key losses: Shizz Alston, Jr
Key newcomers: Josh Pierre-Louis, Monty Scott (redshirt transfer from Kennesaw State)


In coach Jeff Capel’s first season at Pitt last year, he did his best to take a step forward after an 0-18 ACC record in 2017-18. Three conference wins and last place in the ACC may not seem like progress, but the future is looking better for a team who was one of the youngest in the country last year. What will 2019-20 bring for the Panthers?

Head Coach: Jeff Capel III

2018-19 record: 14-19 (3-15, 15th of 15 ACC)
2018-19 postseason finish: Lost to Syracuse in the second round of the ACC Conference tournament
Key returners: Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens, Au’Diese Toney, Terrell Brown, Kene Chukwuka
Key losses: Jared Wilson-Frame, Malik Ellison, Sidy N’Dir, Khameron Davis
Key newcomers: Gerald Drumgoole Jr., Eric Hamilton (transfer from UNC-Greensboro), Justin Champagnie, Karim Coulibaly, Ryan Murphy (JUCO)

Penn State

Penn State showed some flashes in 2018-19, finishing the season by winning seven of its last 10 Big Ten Conference games. That momentum has carried into 2019-20 and the Nittany Lions have impressed behind Player of the Year candidate Lamar Stevens.

Head Coach: Pat Chambers

2018-19 record: 14-18 (7-13, 10th of 14 in the Big Ten)
2018-19 postseason finish: Lost to Minnesota in the second round of Big Ten Conference tournament
Key returners: Lamar Stevens, Mike Watkins, Myles Dread, Jamari Wheeler, John Harrar, Myreon Jones
Key losses: Rasir Bolton, Josh Reaves
Key newcomers: Curtis Jones (Oklahoma State), Izaiah Brockington (St. Bonaventure University), Seth Lundy

Bet on Philadelphia ‘Big 5’ games

The Big 5 is an annual series in which five of the top Philadelphia schools (Villanova, LaSalle, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Penn State) play each other during the season.

As schools have grown in national stature or changed conferences, this series has remained on the schools’ schedules for more than 60 years.

Upcoming Big 5 college basketball games include:

  • St. Joe’s at Penn on Jan. 18
  • Temple at Penn on Jan. 25
  • St. Joe’s at La Salle on Feb. 8
  • Villanova at Temple on Feb. 16

NCAA men’s basketball schedule: Key dates 2019-20

The NCAA selection committee meets to decide which 68 schools to include in the March Madness betting pool every year.

Of the 68 schools, 32 qualify automatically by winning their conference tournament. The other 36 spots are awarded based on a complex set of rankings (aka NET rating) incorporating overall performance and schedule strength.

Some key schedule dates for college basketball in 2019-20:

November-December: Thanksgiving and holiday tournaments, non-conference games, and select conference games
January-February: Conference schedules
March 8: End of the regular season
March 9-15: Conference tournaments
March 15: Field of 68 announced
March 17: NCAA basketball tournament begins
April 4: National semifinals
April 6: National championship

NCAA coaching changes for 2019-20

In Philadelphia, Temple alum and former Sixers star Aaron McKie takes on his first head coaching job in charge of the Temple Owls. At Saint Joe’s, Billy Lange takes over for Phil Martelli, who was fired after 24 years.

Interestingly, Martelli is now coaching in Ann Arbor as an assistant on Juwan Howard’s staff. Howard, much like McKie, is a legendary alum taking over the reins at their alma mater without having any previous college head coaching experience. Here’s a quick look at the significant coaching changes for 2019-20:

  • Cincinnati: John Brannen in., Mick Cronin
  • UCLA: Mick Cronin in, Steve Alford out
  • Michigan: Juwan Howard in, John Beilein out
  • Nebraska: Fred Hoiberg in, Tim Miles out
  • Nevada: Steve Alford in, Eric Musselman out
  • Saint Joseph’s: Billy Lange in, Phil Martelli out
  • St. John’s: Mike Anderson in, Chris Mullin out
  • Temple: Aaron McKie in, Fran Dunphy out

College basketball betting beginners’ guide

What types of bets can I make on college basketball?

Much like other team sports, the core bets for college basketball are point spreads, moneylines and totals aka over/unders. However, compared to the NBA, college hoops offer fewer betting options for game props on individual players.

NCAA futures and prop bets

As described above, there are props for the national champion, making the Final Four, garnering a No. 1 seed, and player of the year. FanDuel also has futures bets listed for conference champions and which conference will win the national title.

See the current futures odds on your favorite college team at DraftKings Sportsbook or FanDuel Sportsbook here:

Five basic college basketball betting tips

  1. Pick a team, know your stuff: There are 351 Division 1 college basketball teams, and games are on the schedule seven days a week. You can’t possibly collect enough information to make solid betting decisions for every game and team so pick a team or two, watch them carefully and try to make the best bets you can based on the information available.
  2. Watch the games, check the box scores: Watch the games and then form an opinion on potential weak spots or betting opportunities. Check the box scores to identify first-half and second-half trends, player minutes, three-point shooting, rebounding advantages, etc.
  3. Take advantage of free info: A lot of great resources are available, including ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and local sports affiliates, which follow the local teams closely. Check the summary, stat, and trend sheets available from the NCAA website as well.
  4. Follow the local media: The school’s Twitter account, local news beat writers, student newspapers, and local TV/radio stations all follow the team closely. You’ll receive dozens of tips and injury news throughout the season that can help you make better betting decisions.
  5. Find situational betting opportunities: “Trap” games come up often. If a team has a big game coming up against a long-time rival, they’re always ripe for an upset in the game or two leading up to it. Likewise, if a team has a knockdown, drag-out OT battle and then play again in a day or two, expect a letdown. Check the team’s schedule and results, and you’ll find some distinct spots where a betting advantage will show itself.

NCAA College Basketball FAQ

Is it legal to bet on college basketball in PA?

That’s a big yes. All 351 Division 1 men’s teams are available to bet on in Pennsylvania at a licensed sportsbook. Unlike in New Jersey, all of the colleges and universities located in Pennsylvania are also eligible for betting action.

New Jersey will not take bets on NJ college sports teams or basketball games including in-season or postseason conference tournaments that take place within the Garden State.

Who picks the teams for the NCAA tournament?

The NCAA selection committee has 10 members responsible for selecting, seeding and bracketing the field for the NCAA Tournament.

Their conference nominates each committee member. Those who are selected will then serve five-year terms and represent a cross-section of the Division 1 membership.

The current NCAA committee chair is Bernard Muir, the director of athletics at Stanford.

Who sets NCAA basketball lines?

The process for setting NCAA basketball lines is like other pro or college sports. Essentially, casinos and bookmakers try to set a line that balances the dollars being wagered on each side, so the casino has no principal risk. After the opening line is set, the line will then fluctuate as money comes in on either side of the bet.

A line may open as Virginia is a -5 favorite versus North Carolina. But if the public feels that North Carolina has a great chance to cover the spread (or even win the game outright), a majority of the money might come in at North Carolina +5 and balance out the line. Then, the book would adjust the line down, e.g., Virginia -4.5 or -4, to balance out the money totals.

Why is the Vegas line different from the line in Pennsylvania?

Since sports betting is regulated at the state level, each sportsbook in each state has a different liability on each game. In Nevada, there may be less money coming in on the Villanova side of a game, so Villanova will not be as heavy of a favorite as it is at a Pennsylvania book, where Nova fans could push the line in a different direction than in states like Nevada or Indiana.

What are second-half NCAA lines?

The second-half lines are typically set as part of the in game betting offering. The line will be a stand-alone number for the second-half scoring, regardless of the final total score. A team may be trailing 42-28 at halftime. They outscore their opponent 36-30 in the second half to “win” the second half betting line but lose the game 72-65.

Which PA team has won the most NCAA championships?

Villanova has won three (1987, 2016, 2018), and LaSalle has won one (1954).

Which PA team has had the most Final Four appearances?

Villanova has made the Final Four seven times; LaSalle and Temple have made two. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and Penn State have appeared in one each.

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