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 bet on the sport. One of the driving forces behind this is without doubt the NBA (National Basketball Association) who in turn, are the biggest and richest basketball league in the world. But, the NBA has been running for decades now, so why all of a sudden the dramatic increase?

Well, this is mainly down to how easy it is to see an NBA game these days. BT Sport has recently bought rights to dozens of the best NBA games meaning people in the Europe, or more especially the UK, can watch the sport. But, not only that, it’s been the resurgence in the sport outside of the US that has brought about some really competitive leagues in and Europe. The Euroleague for example is one that is really starting to grow and we will have more on that later in this article.

When exposure increases in a sport, the amount people want to bet on the start 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 to places outside the US on the increase. In return, bookmakers have provided more markets to accommodate the large number of people wanting to bet on the sport, which has been the driving force behind why it’s so popular for bettors.

Basketball Leagues


You may surprised to hear that the Euroleague has in fact been about since 1958 and now boast a 24 strong competition with clubs from 18 different countries around Europe taking place. The tournament itself has seen many different forms over the years, with one point seeing two rival leagues take place, causing a huge split in the European basketball world. Since then, the two leagues have now merged to become one, the Euroleague.

The league initially starts off with a qualification process where 8 teams will battle out for just one spot to enter the tournament proper. Once the Euroleague proper kicks off, the 24 teams play out in a league format, with each playing each other twice, once home and once away from home. After this process has been completed we then move into the group stages, which includes the top 16 teams from the league.

The groups are split up into 4 groups of 4 teams and each team plays each other just once, with the rankings from the league having a bearing on the seeding’s 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 then the finals.

The most successful team in the tournaments history is that of Real Madrid, from Spain who have wont the Euroleague title on 9 separate occasions; interestingly, they have also been runner-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 21.41 index rating.


NBA is the biggest and best basketball league in the world. They have the best 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 where it took on it’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 of the NBA. The NBA is now the richest sports league in the world in terms of average salary, trumping that of soccer, golf, baseball and even American football.

The regular season is split up into two conferences, East and West. In total, each team will paly 82 regular season games, playing teams in their conference both home and away four times, 6 teams for the other two divisions 4 times and the remaining 4 teams 3 times in total. After the completion of 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 best of 7, meaning to progress the team will need to win 4 games in total to move onto the next round.

The format continues right through to the final where the two teams will play out for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The Boston Celtics are the most decorated team in NBA history winning 17 league championships since its insertion.

NCAA & March Madness

The NCAA is the National Collegiate Athletic Association and they run the men’s divisional basketball tournament held each spring throughout Match 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 times of the year for punters in the US and even now, around the world.

The tournament itself includes 68 teams from across the US; 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. In fact, even the selection of the 36 additional teams is so popular that it’s televised on the Sunday following 4 play-in games.

The games then play out over 4 weekends and are a straight, single-game knockout for each team. They work through into what’s known as the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ round with 16 teams remaining then on the final venue the last 4 teams paly out the 2 semi finals and the final to crown the overall NCAA winner.

The most successful team in the competitions history have been 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 completion has been that of the highly acclaimed Harvard, going 66 years from 1946 to 2012.

Basketball bets

Points spread

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 in turn, what 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 is subjective to their opinion. What we mean by this is they have to use a fair amount of guesswork to say what the true gap is and as we know in sport, it can be a very unpredictable at the best of times.

Whilst not really a strategy as such, we would recommend that you really look to go with your head on these types of bets and work out if you think the bookmaker has the spread wrong. 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 get added to the full time score and negative numbers get taken away…but, you probably knew that already!

Over/under bets

The over/under bets are again sticking with the points that have been scored, but this team we are looking at the cumulative points from both teams. What we will happen is the bookmaker will set a line, say for example 195 points total, and then you simply bet on if you think it will be under or over this amount. The line that will be set is devised 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. But, two stubborn high defence work rate teams will likely see a much closer affair and in turn develop a slow game with a low number of points, encouraging the under bet.

Money lines

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 any 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 parlay bet is essentially an accumulator bet where you insert additional bets onto one bet slip to increase the odds for that bet. The parlay is popular because it will offer up 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 in 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 in, the less likely it will be that you win that bet. Try and 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’ kind of bet and will range massively for each game. They may include over/under total points for a certain player, or a certain number of rebounds in the first quarter. They are bets that 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 also.

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.

Match betting

The match bet market will include overtime results, unless otherwise stated. If, for whatever reason game finishes as tie, then the ‘push’ rule will come into play and all bets will tehn become void.

Abandonment/match postponed

If a game gets abandoned in the NBA for whatever reason then all bets will become void if they have not been settled previously, unless 43 minutes of the 48 minute match has been played, where all bets will stand and payout on 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 and in the WNBA also the 35 minute of a 40 minute game.

Tied bets

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.