Basketball is an exciting, fast-paced sport in which a team’s fortune can turn around in a heartbeat. There are few sports in which a close game can be as nail-bitingly exciting as a barn burner in basketball. When you have a little money on the line, those exciting games become almost too much to handle.
Once you understand the basics of sports betting, placing wagers on basketball games is a piece of cake. Sportsbooks use a simple system of point spreads and totals to make it easy for sports bettors to place bets on their favorite teams. Keep reading to learn more about each type of bet.
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Sportsbooks use point spreads in basketball in an attempt to get an even amount of betting action on both teams. This is important because sportsbooks don’t like having to pay off the winners with money from their coffers. By having an even amount of action on both sides of the game, they can simply pay off the winners’ bets with the losers’ bets.
Point spreads achieve equal betting on both sides by forcing the favored team to win by a certain number of points for it to be considered a win. For example, if there is an upcoming game between the Denver Nuggets and the Detroit Pistons, the Nuggets might be favored to win the game. In that case, the sportsbook would use a point spread to help even the wagers on both sides.
The game might be listed as follows:
- Denver Nuggets -7.5
- Detroit Pistons +7.5
Under this point spread, the Denver Nuggets would have to win the game by 8 points or more for it to be considered a win. If you decide to bet on the Detroit Pistons, you can actually win your bet if the Pistons lose but manage to keep within 7 points of the Nuggets.
If the final score is something like this:
- Denver Nuggets 75
- Detroit Pistons 73
Denver will have failed to “cover the spread.” In that case, anyone who wagered on Denver will lose and anyone who wagered on the Pistons will win.
Totals or Over and Unders
Basketball totals, or “over and unders,” are when you wager on the combined score for both teams. For example, if the total on an upcoming game between two basketball teams is 200 points, you can choose to bet on the combined score being more than 200 points or less than 200 points.
Let’s assume the total for an upcoming game is 200 points. If the final score is:
- Denver Nuggets 92
- Detroit Pistons 89
- Total: 181
Anyone who bet on the over would lose and anyone bet on the under would win.
Money lines are also sometimes used in basketball for the same purpose of getting an equal amount of action on both teams. When one team is listed as the favorite, the sportsbook lists the current money line odds.
A typical money line matchup would look like this:
- Denver Nuggets -200
- Detroit Pistons +150
The negative in front of the Denver Nuggets’ money line means that the Nuggets are the team most likely to win. In that case, you would have to bet $200 for every $100 you hope to win. In other words, if you bet $20 on the Nuggets, you would win $10 if they win.
The Detroit Pistons have a plus sign in front of their money line so that means they are the underdog. In this example, you would win $150 for every $100 you bet on the Detroit Pistons. A $10 bet would return $15 if the Pistons win.