What are the Betting Odds for the College Basketball Championship?

The greatest sporting event of the year is just around the corner! The NCAA basketball tournament begins on March 19 and runs for about a month. What are the betting odds for this year’s tournament? Let’s take a look!

What are the Current NCAA Basketball Tournament Odds?

The lines for the 2020 NCAA basketball tournament are currently available at many online sportsbooks, so you can get the best idea of what to expect this year. With the spread so close, it’s very difficult to predict the final outcome; however, we can determine the betting odds for each team. Here’s a breakdown of these numbers:


The betting odds for all the teams in the NCAA tournament are usually listed in numerical form, like this: 50-to-1. This means that if you bet $50 on the favorite or over-under, you’ll win $500. If the favorite team wins, your winnings will be $500, while if the underdogs win, you’ll earn $250. Typically, the higher the number, the better the team and the odds are tied to inverse proportion with the lower the number, the worse the team and the odds are in favor of winning.

Most Likely to Win

The most popular team to win the NCAA tournament is the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats have a 97-year-old coach in John Calipari, who has led his team to six national titles and 30 Final Fours. They also sport an intimidating nickname, the “Headmen” and boast one of the greatest alumni trees in all of sports. Despite these advantages, they are only 12-to-1 against the spread to win the whole thing. The next most popular team is the Florida State Seminoles at 15-to-1. Another perennial power in the sport, the Seminoles defeated Kentucky in the 2019 NCAA tournament final. Finally, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels come in at 18-to-1. Although the Tar Heels lack the success of the two previous teams, they still have one of the greatest basketball traditions in the country. The Tar Heels are also tied for the most NCAA tournament appearances with 17. If you love betting on basketball, these are the top three teams to bet on this year!


If you bet on the underdogs, you’ll usually get a great return on your investment. Typically, underdogs win about 80% of the time, so if you put $100 on a University of Texas-Hook ‘em team, you’ll win $80. If the underdogs win, you’ll earn $40, while if they lose, you’ll earn $20. This is also known as a “value proposition” because the favorite and over teams are usually more expensive. However, if you’re a diehard UNC or FSU fan and want to see those teams play, you might want to consider betting on them in the first place. You rarely get a bad return on an underdog bet even if they lose, and if they do, it’s usually only by a little bit.

What will be the Final Score?

The spread for every game in the NCAA tournament stays relatively stable until the very end. However, the lines do change in favor of the underdogs just a bit. For example, the Kentucky vs. LSU game had the following spread: Kentucky -7.5. However, in the end, it was the Cats who beat the Tigers 69-61. If you look closely at the final score, you’ll notice that the spread changed a little bit to be reflected in the final total. Other than that, the spread usually stays the same until the end. This is so the bookie can keep the juice on their side of the bet. It’s all about the juice!

What is the Seed For The NCAA Basketball Tournament?

Each year, the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee seeds the tournament according to how each team performed during the season. For 2020, the seeds will be as follows:

  • 1st -Michigan Wolverines
  • 2nd -Alabama Crimson Tide
  • 3rd -LSU Tigers
  • 4th -Kentucky Wildcats
  • 5th -Wichita State Shockers
  • 6th -Iowa Hawkeyes
  • 7th -Texas Longhorns
  • 8th -Temple Owls
  • 9th -Florida State Seminoles
  • 10th -Virginia Cavaliers
  • 11th -Michigan State Spartans
  • 12th -Indiana Pacers
  • 13th -Ohio State Buckeyes
  • 14th -Rhode Island Rams
  • 15th -Southern California Trojans
  • 16th -Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  • 17th -UCLA Bruins
  • 18th -San Diego State Aztecs
  • 19th -Cincinnati Bearcats
  • 20th -Washington Huskies

The teams are then seeded and placed into a single-elimination tournament. The first round games are usually close, so keeping an eye on these early-round matchups is crucial for accumulating early-round upsets. With some of the lower seeds facing off against top-seeded teams, the competition is sure to be exciting.

How Does Television Impact The NCAA Basketball Tournament?

The NCAA basketball tournament is one of the biggest events on the sports calendar, and it’s always a draw when there’s a big game or finals on television. The 2020 final was no exception. The Louisville vs. Michigan basketball game drew a national television audience of about 4.8 million people, according to Nielsen. This is the highest-rated game in tournament history and the most-watched basketball game in U.S. history. If you want to bet on sports, this game is among the top five most-watched sporting events of all time. The previous record holder, the 2019 NCAA tournament final between Florida State and UNC, drew a national audience of about 4.2 million people. Finally, the 2016 NCAA tournament final between Michigan and Kentucky drew a national audience of about 3.8 million people. The final score for the 2016 game was Louisville 86, Michigan 73. These five games account for 79% of the 2020 NCAA basketball tournament’s total audience.

What is the Spread For The First Round Of The NCAA Tournament?

The first-round spread is usually designed to be quite a bit wider than the rest of the tournament. This is to attract more people to wager on these early games, especially since they are usually over earlier than the rest of the tournament. For example, the first round of the NCAA tournament for 2020 will begin on March 19, and the winners of the first round will play on March 26. The early games start at about 12:00 p.m. EST, so early-morning games can be especially lucrative for the bookmakers.

What is the Point Spread For The Remainder of The Tourney?

The rest of the tournament is usually much closer the spread than the first round. The teams have already played multiple games during the season, so the bookies usually narrow the spread quite a bit to avoid over-reaction in the final minutes of games. For example, the Indiana vs. Ohio State game in the 2019 tournament had the following spread: Indiana +5. This is usually the type of game where you’ll see a lot of high-scoring output (about 92 points per game) but it’s extremely difficult to predict the winner since the spread is so small. In the end, it was the Buckeyes who upset the 2nd-seeded Hoosiers 67-65. If you wager on these games, make sure you’re aware of the betting lines since they can change in the last seconds of a game. Also, the sudden-death rounds, which involve the two teams with the best records playing one-on-one until there’s a winner, are usually where the biggest betting lines are found. These are the types of games that can end up as blowouts, but they’re also the types of games where you’ll see some great performances and great shots that even the best fans would love to see.

The NCAA basketball tournament is one of the greatest sporting events of the year, and it’s definitely fun to follow the games and see how the odds change throughout the tournament. It’s important to keep in mind the key strategies for placing winning bets, though! If you love basketball and haven’t watched a game this year, now is the perfect opportunity to start. The next game you watch, you’ll already know more than you did before.