Whilst basketball is very much a US facing sport, what many people don’t realise that there are a number of professional leagues throughout Europe as well. These guys don’t get the exposure or the money that players in the NBA do, but basketball is still probably America’s biggest export in terms of their key sports.
This generally makes betting a tricky proposition for most bookmakers. Whereas some will rely on the NBA alone to form the majority of their markets, others have seen fit to introduce leagues from around the world into their betting portfolio. What we have found is that the ‘rest of the world’ leagues are much more accessible than that of the American ones. Many games are played at night in the US when the rest of the world is in bed, which makes it much less appealing for bettors who enjoy making in-play bets.
That being said, the sport certainly has progressed in terms of betting and there are now more bookmakers than ever giving the sport a big push. This is great for punters as the competition for dominance in the market between the bookies works in the punters’ favour.
As bookmakers continue to increase in size, they work to outperform their closest rivals and gain a foothold in different markets. This is definitely something we have seen happening with basketball, and below we have listed our top three bookmakers currently offering markets on the sport.
Best Basketball Betting Sites
#1 – Ladbrokes
It was quite a surprise when conducting the research for this article to see Ladbrokes offering up such a compelling basketball section. The reason is because that there are so many sports that you think they should promote in great detail, that they just don’t, and to be honest we thought that basketball might fall into that category. How wrong we were!
The first thing we want to mention is their live streaming channel and we were really pleased to see so many games covered. The FIBA World Cup is just around the corner and it looks like they have pretty much full coverage of that tournament. It’s easily one of the highlights in the basketball betting calendar, especially for countries outside the US, and it was this sort of attention to detail really drew us towards them.
On top of live streaming they do offer up a good range of leagues that they offer on market from around the world. We take the NBA as pretty much a given for all bookmakers in our picks, but you get all sorts of leagues from South America, Africa, Asia and Europe it bet on as well.
#2 – BetVictor
BetVictor fall just short of Ladbrokes in the pecking order and that’s mainly because of their lack of live streaming. The site covers a good range of both markets and leagues to bet on. You get around 7-10 for upcoming matches and this number might rise when it comes to some of the higher profile NBA games.
The coverage of the Euro leagues isn’t quite as good as the two bookmakers above with a lot of them just including outright winner bets. That being said, and we harp on about this point quite a lot with BetVictor, but they are one of the better priced bookmakers out there. Comparing odds on basketball betting shows that they are consistently in the top two or three for most of the markets they serve up. We’ve got to say, that if its value you are looking for and are willing to sacrifice features such as live streaming and a compromise in market depth, then BetVictor should be your pick over the two bookmakers above.
NBA Coverage in the UK
Over the last 5 years the basketball betting markets have seen massive increases in both the number of bets available and also the number of punters wanting to use them. Without a doubt, one of the driving forces behind this is the NBA (National Basketball Association) who are the biggest and richest basketball league in the world; but the NBA has been running for decades now, so why the sudden the dramatic increase?
This is arguably down to how easy it is to watch NBA game these days. BT Sport has recently bought the rights to dozens of the best NBA games meaning that people in Europe, and more specifically the UK, can enjoy the sport. Not only that but the resurgence in basketball outside of the US has brought created some really competitive leagues in Europe. The Euroleague is a case in point and it is really starting to grow in popularity.
When exposure increases in a sport, the frequency with which people want to bet on it usually increases as well. Basketball, along with sports such as American football and even baseball, have been a perfect examples of that, with the number of high profile games on offer outside the US on the increase. In return, bookmakers have provided more markets to accommodate the larger number of people wanting to bet on these sports, which in turn makes it more appealing to bettors.
How to Bet on Basketball
There is a lot more depth and coverage for US facing sports these days. Granted, they don’t get the attention the likes of football or horse racing do, but many bookmakers are offering much more than the bog standard bet types, some are even outdoing US bookmakers when it comes to basketball betting.
To make your bets profitable you will need to decide where you are going to conduct your research, and luckily, the majority can be done online for free. There are a number of resources that you can check out such as sports reports, newspapers, social media and even paid basketball access areas which include behind the scenes information.
You should be looking to get as much information from past pros as you can as they are often the ones in the know. ‘Tipsters’ are ten a penny online these days and the majority are rubbish, so beware of these self-appointed experts and stick with those who have proven experience.
One thing that basketball can now boast is a wide range of betting markets. The three main contenders are the spread (which is basically a handicapping market), to win, and the over/under on total points.
Prop bets are a bit of an American institution and these are bets that can be based on the game itself or a certain team. They range from game totals, number of three points thrown, number of free throws, double results, team totals, and point’s totals.
What you will find from a lot of these markets is that the odds are set up in a way which makes them even money bets either way. So you might be betting on the over or under on the total points of a certain team and the line will be set in such a way that the prices for over or under will both be very close to even money. Not all markets are like this, but the American style of betting seems to favour these types of bets as the range of talent from team to team differs greatly compared with a sport like football, where it’s much more even, generally.
Quick List of Basketball Bets
- Points Spread – The point spread allows you to pick a team to win with either an advantage of points or a disadvantage. It’s basically the same as handicapping.
- Game Totals – Pretty simple, just choose the over or under on the total amount of points in the game.
- Money Line – The money line is your outright winner market so you simply select who you think will win.
- Race to 20 Points – Select which team will reach the 20 points mark first.
- Double Result – You can select which team will be ahead at half time and then again at full time. You can include ties for half time results. If the game goes to overtime then whichever team wins will count as your full time result.
- Winning Margin – You can select the winning margin for each team. You must include the correct winner of the game and then choose between a series of brackets for the points.
- Team Total Odd or Even – A simple market requiring you to predict whether the total number of points scored by one team will be odd or even.
- Game Total Odd or Even – The same as above but you need to predict based on the cumulative points scored instead.
The most common form of basketball betting is points spread. Because teams are often massively uneven in terms of ability, the points spread means that a bookmaker can provide an adjustment on the points to make the winner of that game an even money bet.
For example, For Team A to outright beat Team B with no spread the odds are 1.30 (Team A) to 4.50 (Team B). This shows that Team A are a huge favourite over Team B. But, if a points spread was added (or a handicap as it’s more commonly known in Europe) then a bookmaker may say Team A -10.5 points and Team B at +10.5, with both bets being around an even money shot. The points added to each spread will be based on each teams ability and what margin the bookmaker feels that one team should win by.
One of the best things about betting on the points spread market is that the points that are offered up by the bookmaker are subjective. What we mean by this is that bookies have to use a fair amount of guesswork to come up with a number, and as we all know, sport can be unpredictable at the best of times.
Whilst not really a strategy as such, we would recommend that you go with your head on these types of bets and work out whether you think the bookmaker has the spread wrong without letting their opinion sway you. The odds are going to be the same regardless as the spread is in place to combine two even money bets, but the points on offer could be favourable for one team.
Just as a final point, bear in mind that positive numbers are added to the full time score and negative numbers are taken away… but you probably knew that already.
The over/under bets are again based on the points that have been scored, but this time we are looking at the points from both teams. What will happen is the bookmaker will set a line, let’s say 195 points, and then you bet on whether you think the final tally will be under or over this amount. The line will be set to make sure that both the under and over bet will be around even money.
For these bets, you need to be looking at how strong both teams are offensively and defensively. Two high tempo teams are likely going to create a lot of chances and in turn, a lot of points, so a lower line would encourage an over bet. However, two stubborn teams with a high defence work rate will likely be a much closer affair, and result in a slower game with a lower number of points, encouraging the under bet.
The money is essentially the equivalent to a match result bet in European terms, so the money line won’t include any points spread or any handicap for either team.
It will simply be the odds for each team to win the match. Remember that these bets will be for the match result, so it will include any over-time results.
A further bet type might allow you to choose a draw as an option, giving you three results to choose from and the odds adjusting to reflect this.
A parlay bet is essentially an accumulator bet where additional bets are added onto a single bet slip to increase the odds for that bet. The parlay is popular because it will offer a large payout for a relatively small outlay.
Most of these bets will likely include just the one betting market, so you may have several bets from the money line market or from the points spread, and whilst some people may combine the two, generally, in basketball betting this is fairly uncommon.
The trick with placing parlay bets is to not get too carried away and start adding too many selections. It’s all too easy to keep adding in games just to see the potential returns from that bet go up and up. You need to remember that for every bet you add, the less likely it is that your bet will win.
Try to keep it at 5 selections or lower and make sue you research and have a valid reason for including each bet in your parlay.
Proposition bets are a kind of ‘everything in between’ bet and will range massively from one game to another. They may include over/under total points for a certain player, or a certain number of rebounds in the first quarter.
These bets are often made more for entertainment purposes than anything else, but if you are clever, you may still be able to make a few quid on them.
Basketball Betting Rules
Below are the betting rules for basketball. The rules will be the same for NBA and European league games combined unless otherwise stated. If you are unsure on anything, then please contact your bookmaker for more information on the breakdown of their rules.
These are the main rules to know about, but of course, there may well be other rules attached so always read the terms.
The match bet market will include overtime results, unless otherwise stated.
If for whatever reason a game finishes in a tie, then the ‘push’ rule will come into play and all bets will become void and stakes returned.
If a game is abandoned in the NBA then all bets will become void if they have not already been settled, unless 43 minutes of the 48 minute match has been played, in which case all bets will stand and payout at the time of abandonment.
If an official result stands for that match, then all bets will stand. This works the same for NCAA games, but it must surpass the 35 minute mark of a 40 minute game, an in the same goes for fixtures in the WNBA.
Sometimes you will come across tied bets in basketball, such as two players having the same score in the first half top scorer market, or two teams having the same number of rebounds in the most rebounds market.
If this is the case, then these bets will be pushed and the bet will essentially become void.
The NBA is the biggest and best basketball league on the planet. They have the most talented players from around the world and are currently boasting a 30 strong league with 29 teams from North American and 1 from Canada. The league was set up in 1946, but it wasn’t until 1949 that it tookitsit’s now infamous name of the National Basketball Association. The league actually merged in the same year with the National Basketball League (NBL), again increasing the stature and fan base of the NBA. It is now the richest sports league in the world in terms of average salary, trumping that of football, golf, baseball, and even American football.
The regular season is split up into two conferences, East and West. In total, each team will play 82 regular games per season, facing teams in their conference both home and away four times, 6 teams from the other two divisions 4 times, and the remaining 4 teams 3 times in total. After this, the league then goes into the playoffs, where 8 of the best teams from each conference will play head to head knockout games. What’s unique in the playoffs is that all games are played out as a best of 7, meaning that in order to progress a team will need to win 4 games in total.
This format continues right through to the final where the two qualifying teams will compete for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The Boston Celtics are the most decorated team in NBA history winning 17 league championships since its inception, their last coming in 2008.
NCAA & March Madness
The NCAA is the National Collegiate Athletic Association and they run the men’s divisional basketball tournament held each spring throughout March and into April. It’s been around since 1939 and in that time the college sports industry has taken off massively. The tournament is more commonly known as ‘March Madness’ and it’s often seen as one of the biggest betting periods of the year for punters in the US.
The tournament itself includes 68 teams from across the United States, 32 of those are Division 1 conference teams and the remaining 36 are teams that are awarded at-large berths, selected by the NCAA committee. The selection of the 36 additional teams is so popular that it’s actually televised on the Sunday following 4 play-in games.
The games then play out over 4 weekends as a straight, single-game knockout for each team. This leads onto what’s known as the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ round for the 16 remaining teams, and then on the last 4 teams play out the 2 semi-finals and the final at the same venue, and the overall NCAA winner gets the crown.
The most successful team in the history of the competition is that of UCLA, picking up 11 NCCA Championship titles since 1964. Other notable inclusions are that of Kentucky (8), North Carolina (5), Duke (5) and Indiana (5). Interestingly, the longest drought between single appearances in the competition was suffered by the highly acclaimed Harvard, who were absent 66 years from 1946 to 2012. Too much time spent studying, obviously.
You may be surprised to hear that the Euroleague has in fact been about since 1958 and is now a 24 team strong competition with clubs from 18 different countries around Europe taking part. The tournament itself has taken many different forms over the years, and at one point two rival leagues went head to head, causing a huge split in the European basketball world. Since then, the two leagues have thankfully merged to become one, the Euroleague.
The league initially starts off with a qualification process during 8 teams will battle it out for every one spot available in the tournament proper. Once the final 24 teams are qualified matches play out in a league format, with each team playing each other team twice, once home and once away from home. After this process has been completed the top 16 teams move into the group stages.
The teams are split into 4 groups of 4 and each team plays each other just once, with the rankings from the league having a bearing on the seedings for each group. The top 2 teams from each group then head into the quarterfinal, which plays out as a straight knockout game to progress to the semis, and then the finals.
The most successful team in the history of the Euroleague is Real Madrid, from Spain unsurprisingly, who have won the Euroleague title on 9 separate occasions. Interestingly, they have also been runners-up 8 times as well. CSKA Moscow in Russia are the second most successful team with 7 titles to their name. Some individual record averages include Alphonso Ford on points 22.22, Joseph Blair with 10.05 rebounds and Anthony Parker with a 21.41 index rating.