College Basketball Totals

College Basketball Totals Explained (AKA: Over/Under Bets)

By Loot, College Basketball Handicapper,

Betting on totals is key part to any sharp bettor’s repertoire. A lot of college hoops bettors tend to not pay much mind to totals. They know they’re there, they just never even look at the totals. When you listen to the real sharps in college hoops wagering, however, it becomes clear that we should not neglect totals.

Simply put, betting on totals (aka: over/unders) is having to do with the final score of the game. It makes no difference who wins whatsoever. The bookie posts a number and you merely predict whether the final score will go “over” or “under” that number. It’s a pretty easy bet to understand. If someone’s grandmother wanted to make a college football bet, this might be the easiest one to explain to her.

Here is an example:

Penn State vs. Wisconsin

Over 124 (-110)
Under 124 (-110)

In the above game, the total is 124. You have two choices–over or under. For an “over” bet to win, the combined score of both teams must exceed 124 points. In order for an “under” bet to prevail, the combined score of both teams must be lower than 124. If the combined score is exactly 124, the result is a “push” and everyone gets their bet back. Many totals will have half-points, in which case there cannot be a push and either the over or under must win the bet.

You will notice both the over and under are listed at -110. That means you must bet $110 for every $100 you hope to win. Not that the minimum bet is $110, it’s just a ratio for you to understand. In other words, you could bet $22 to win $20 or $44 to win $40.

An important point about college basketball totals is that they won’t be offered for every game. Don’t think you’re going to be able to bet the under on the Stony Brook game because there probably isn’t a number on that. Then again, there might be. The games where totals are available can sometimes seem rather random, as opposed to NBA betting, where every game will usually have posted total.


Betting on totals has a definite appeal that many bettors find very attractive. When taking a team against the spread, you are focused on one team and how well they do or don’t do. An over/under bet gives you action on both teams. And while just as many things can go wrong with bets on totals, it’s more insulated from the common pitfalls that plague straight bets. You’re not necessarily going to lose your wager in the event of a team making a lot of mistakes or a star player just phoning it in for the night. Another perk is that, when betting the over, once it goes over–nothing can make you lose. It’s one of the only bets on the board where you can count your chickens before they hatch.

In addition, betting on totals offers you one of the better deals for your wagering dollar. One of the reasons this bet is championed by the sharps is that it is devoid of the extravagant juice normally associated with bets other than straight wagers against the spread. Betting on totals generally takes place on the -110 money line. There might be some slight variations, like the over being -115 and the over being -105, but it equals out to -110.

Despite the relatively low juice and the fact that totals are imminently handicap-able, a lot of people blow right by the totals. It’s understandable to a certain extent. We are animals who are geared for picking winners. You don’t usually hear people arguing whether a game will be low or high-scoring. But you do hear people debating who will win a game. So in that sense, betting on totals seems foreign to some. When looking at the point-spreads, we might stumble across a line we think is faulty, because we’re geared to form opinions on who will win. The same feeling occurs less often with totals.

At the same time, we should come out of our comfort zone if there is money to be made. The fact that bookies limit how much you can wager on totals should clue us in to the fact that we should playing them. Don’t force it, but we should be thoughtfully incorporating totals wagering into our playbook when we find the right spots.