Over/Under Basketball Bets

Over Under Basketball BetsBasketball totals provide a different angle for those looking to bet on a single basketball team besides which team is going to win the game. You can bet on whether the two teams in the game are going to come in with a combined total above or below the predetermined number set by oddsmakers. To help you understand the bet a little bit better, we’re here to provide this basketball totals betting guide.

Basketball over/under bets, whether it comes to NBA basketball betting or college basketball betting, can be a quite effective way to break down a game for betting purposes. Instead of needing to know which team will win and by how much, you just have to figure out what type of game it will be. Will it be high-scoring or low-scoring, based on the makeup of these teams and the styles that they prefer to play?

In the following article, we’ll help you better understand the concept of basketball totals when it comes to betting on basketball. We’ll go into how the bet works and some of the different ways you can approach it. And we’ll also go into how you can assess basketball over/under betting while also answering some key questions you might have about the concept.

Basketball CTA

What Is an Over/Under Basketball Bet?

When it comes to learning how to bet on basketball, there are really three bets that stand out above all. There’s the win bet, which simply asks you pick the winner of the game. Then, there’s the point spread wager, which is a staple of sports betting that attaches a certain amount of points to the underdog to make the game even from a betting standpoint.

Finally, there are basketball over/unders. In each game played in the NBA or between major college teams, a number is set by the oddsmakers. You have to decide if the total number of points scored in that game by both teams will go over or under the determined number.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical game. The Lakers are playing Miami and the over/under is set at 210.5 points. You decide to bet the over.

Lakers vs Heat
NBA Totals Bet
Over 210.5
Under 210.5

The Lakers win the game 120 to 115. How many points were scored?

120 + 115 = 235

Hence, the total was over 210.5 points. You won your bet.

Different Ways of Betting Basketball Totals

When it comes to NBA totals and college basketball totals, there are a number of offshoots of the basic bet listed above. Let’s take a look at some of those.

Over/Under Basketball Betting With Moneylines

Most top gambling websites connect their NBA over/unders and college basketball over/unders to moneyline betting odds. This adjusts the amount of money you make based on what you bet from something different from even money.

Lakers vs Heat
NBA Over/Under Bet
Over 210.5
Under 210.5

For example, in our example above, you might see odds of -110 listed for the over bet. This means that you would have to wager $110 to win $100 return on the over. By contrast, a +110 moneyline would mean that you would have to wager $100 to get $110 in profit.

That doesn’t mean you have to wager those exact amounts when making basketball totals bets. But those ratios of money bet to money paid back would be carried over into whatever size wager you make.

Partial Game Basketball Totals Bets

With partial game bets, you can narrow your over/under wagers down to a portion of a basketball game. For example, you might choose to bet on just a half’s worth of action, or even a quarter.

Duke vs Kentucky
College Basketball First Half Over/Under
Over 80.5
Under 80.5

For example, let’s say that the over/under for a particular college basketball game is set for 80.5 points at the completion of the first half. At the completion of the half, Team A leads Team B 44-36. The total points are 80, which is just below 80.5. This means that the under is the winning bet.

That hypothetical game provides a good example why oddsmakers at top online betting sites usually including a half-point in their basketball totals lines. If they had set that line at 80, the total points for the half would have landed right on the number. The half-point ensures there’s an over and an under in this case.

These bets are little bit more difficult to pin down, but you can make solid money with them if you know how to analyze basketball action. The key is to think about the circumstances that might be taking place in a quarter and a half that would in some way separate it from the rest of the game. If possible, you can take advantage of this unique way of basketball betting.

Individual Over/Unders

Betting on the outcomes achieved by individual players in a team sport like NBA or college basketball is sometimes known as a prop bet. People who play fantasy sports will recognizes this concept pretty quickly. When it comes to basketball over/under bets, it comes down to how much a player scores in a single game.

Stephen Curry Points Scored
NBA Over/Under Bet
Over 30.5
Under 30.5

The concept is simple once you get the hand of basketball totals bets as a whole. Imagine that you bet an over/under of 30.5 points for the amount that Stephen Curry scores in a particular game. If he scores 31 or more, the over wins, and if he scores 30 or less, the under comes in.

Some people think that it’s easier, perhaps more predictable, to hone in on what an individual player does compared to the outcome of the whole game. Certain players achieve a kind of consistency in their results that lends itself to single-player over/under basketball bets.

Besides points, other statistics can occasionally be included when you’re betting the basketball over/unders. These bets are usually tied into some part of the game that a player does really well. For example, Andre Drummond is known as an outstanding rebounder, so you might be able to get over/under lines on how many total rebounds he gets in a total contest.

Tips for Betting Basketball Totals

Now that you know how basketball totals bets work, it’s time to develop a strategy for these wagers. Ultimately, you have to develop your own process for making these wagers that makes sense to you. Here are some tips on what to look for to get you started.


Ultimately, to figure out the over/under of a particular game, you have to dive deep into the tendencies and characteristics of the teams playing that game. There are a number of factors that should come into play, such as:

  • Past head-to-head matchups: If the two teams have already played a lot in the season, what were the totals scores like in those games? Seeing if the two teams tend to play in shootouts or defensive slugfests should help you decide what the latest contest will be like.
  • Player matchups: Does one team have an edge at a position that could lead to a high-scoring situation? By contrast, does the high-scorer on one team face the best defender on the opponent’s team? If that’s the case, the overall scoring of the game could be lower and lead toward the under.
  • Trends: Looking at trends for the teams involved is a good way to break down the over/under situation. For example, if one team is on a streak of playing six games in a row where the total went over, it could be a trend worth exploiting. Just make sure that there aren’t opposing trends that could contradict each other.
  • Pace: Because of the analytics movement in basketball, we can now tell how quickly or slowly a particular team likes to play on offense. You can use this data to help with your basketball over/unders. For example, a team that likes a fast pace and finally meets another team that does the same after several games against slower-paced teams could be the perfect spot to bet the over.

Injuries and Other Roster News

Betting on basketball, whether it’s the NBA or college, requires knowing the overall status for both teams’ rosters in the game. That is certainly true for over/under bets, because who is and who isn’t playing can have a great effect on the amount of points scored.

Injuries are a part of life in basketball, where it can be a grind night after night. As a bettor, you have to know exactly what is going on with the rosters of each team and if there are any injuries occurring. You wouldn’t want to bet the over on a game and find out that one of the high-scorers on one team has to sit out.

There are other subtle factors that you should know about that might affect team scoring.

For Example

If a team has made a big trade during the day and has to play that night, it will probably be doing so with a skeleton crew. The players they traded can’t play and the ones they traded for won’t yet be available, all of which can lead to sloppy play and low scoring.

Suspensions can also keep key players out of lineups. And just as you need to know who is out when betting the basketball over/unders, you also have to know who is in. For instance, if a key player who has been out a while is just returning for that night’s game, the over/under line might not yet reflect that, which would give you a nice advantage.


One of the factors that comes into play often in the world of NBA betting are so-called “back-to-backs.” These occur when a team is scheduled to play two nights in a row. In a league so competitive and physical, such scheduling can be draining on the team having to endure it.

As a result, many bettors might favor the under when a game involves a team on a back-to-back. By the same token, a well-rested team might be primed for a point explosion. You should take into account all of this when betting on basketball over/unders.

Line Movement

Many bettors believe that they can determine the best wagers by what other bettors are doing. When they see a line move one way or another, they believe that it is the result of “smart money” forcing oddsmakers to react. The trick is knowing when to take advantage of this when making your basketball totals bets.

If you wait too long, the adjustment made by the oddsmakers might nullify the edge of the line moving. You should do research on over/under line movements, in terms of how far it moves, to see when it makes a definitive effect on totals outcomes.

Line Shopping

If you have an account at multiple gambling websites or apps with sportsbooks, you should think about shopping around before making an over/under wager. What does that mean?

Well, imagine that you’re convinced that a particular college basketball game is headed for the over. You check and you see the line sits at 150.5 with a -120 moneyline on one site.

Out of curiosity, you check another site. You find the line is at 148.5 and the moneyline is at -110. Since you’re betting the over, this is a better scenario, since the total you have to reach is two points lower at the second site. And the moneyline is lower as well, meaning a better return on your investment if you win.

Duke vs Kentucky
Betting Odds at Site A
Over 150.5
Under 150.5
Duke vs Kentucky
Betting Odds at Site B
Over 148.5
Under 148.5

The differences can sometimes be minimal between sites. But if you’re going to be making a lot of basketball over/under wagers, those differences can add up. A few more wins here and there can make the difference between a profit and a loss.

Basketball Totals FAQ

Where Can I Place Basketball Totals Bets?

If you live near somewhere that has a sportsbook, you should be able to find a wide selection of college and pro games with over/unders included. The establishments with sportsbooks can be standalone sports betting environments, horse racing tracks or casinos.

Yet it’s possible that you might not live near such a place or might find it too much of a hassle to get there. The good news is that you make all your over/under basketball wagers on a top gambling website via a connected device.

What Differences Can I Expect Between College and NBA Totals Bets?

The NBA is a much higher-scoring atmosphere than the college game. For one, the games in the NBA are eight minutes longer (four 12-minute quarters in the NBA versus two 20-minute halves in college). On top of that, the NBA style of play is much more freewheeling, includes a shorter shot click and features professional players who are much more skilled scorers than their college counterparts.

Make sure that you’re not scared away from betting the over in NBA games even if the line seems ridiculously high in a vacuum. For college games, you should really look closely at the styles of play, since the differences between styles can be much more drastic in college and really skew to final point total.

Is There Any Betting Formula You Can Use to Help With Over/Under Bets?

One popular formula that can be used to give you a good baseline is the average team total method. Let’s say that team A’s average total game score (points by them and their opponents) is 235. Team B’s is 240. The league average is 230.

Try this formula:

(Average Total Score Team A) x (Average Total Score Team B) / (League Average)

235 x 240 / 230 = 245

You would then compare that line to the over/under number. If it was higher, you should bet the over. And if it was lower, you would bet the under.

What Happens With My Over/Under Bet When a Basketball Game Goes Into Overtime?

You should try to check with the sportsbook or gambling site before you make any bet to see the specific guidelines. That includes basketball totals bets, and what might happen with any contingency.

For the most part, however, the over/under full-game point total bets generally include overtimes in their totals. That’s a good thing if you bet the over, because of the extra time that will be played to score more points. But if you bet the under, overtime will work against your bet.