Basketball spread betting is the most popular way to bet on both college and NBA basketball. In the simplest terms possible, basketball spread betting allows bettors to bet on teams that are not evenly matched, by handicapping the favorite and making it possible to pick either side without ever losing much value on your bet.
Three Keys to Basketball Spread Betting
Understand What a Point Spread Is
A point spread is the amount of points, set by a sportsbook, that a team must win by, or stay within, for the bet on that team to pay out.
The team generally believed to be more likely to win in this game, the favorite, is assigned a number of points, written with a “-“ in front of it. If they win the game in question by more than that many points, they have covered the spread, and bets on that team’s point spread win.
The underdog—the team considered less likely to win—‘s point spread is expressed with a “+” in front of it. If the underdog can either win or lose by less than their point spread number, bets on that team’s point spread win.
For example, if the Knicks are struggling (as they tend to) and they play the Miami Heat, the point spread might look like this:
New York Knicks (+8) at Miami Heat (-8)
In this case, the Heat would have to win by at least 9 for bettors on the Miami Heat at -8 to be paid out. This situation is commonly referred to as covering the spread.
For the New York Knicks to cover the spread at +8, the team would have to either win the game outright, or lose by 7 or less.
If the teams were to play to a final score that separated them by the exact number of the spread, the bet would be graded as a push, and wagers on both sides of that point spread would be refunded. To avoid this situation, point spreads will often be set with half points, for example -8.5. In those cases, there can be no pushes, as either the favorite or underdog will always cover.
Point spreads are a useful starting point for other types of bets. With teaser bets, for example, bettors can bet on multiple games at the same time while accessing juicier lines. Point spreads can also be added to parlays to increase the payout while betting on multiple outcomes.
All told, basketball spread betting is a great way to open up a game that can be tough to wager on using just the moneyline, as some teams can be so unevenly matched. Try a spread bet or two today and get into the action!