The Basketball over/under bet is one of the easiest and most exciting wagers in sports. Instead of betting or laying money and picking a winner, or factoring in a point spread, you’re simply pulling for both teams to score, or not to score.
Because of this, the over/under bet is the second most popular type of bet in basketball in terms of action, trailing point spread wagering by a small margin. Odds are set to accommodate this popularity, and not far off from the odds that you might find in popular online casino games.
Betting the Over/Under
The basketball over/under can be set in a number of ways. The most common is Total Game Points, which breaks down to the total number of points scored by both teams combined. For example, the over/under for the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the San Antonio Spurs is set at 214.5 points. If the Lakers score 115 points and the Spurs score 105 points the total is 220 points (155 points plus 105 points). In this example the over would win.
Bookmakers take this same concept and apply it to basketball halves, or even sometimes quarters. You could wager on the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the New Jersey Nets first-half total points, or the New York Knicks vs, the Boston Celtics second-half totals, with points being added together just for the specified half of the game. These wagers are often more difficult to pin down, but savvy bettors can make a tidy profit with them if they’re keen to understand basketball scoring action.
Additionally, sportsbooks handicap the basketball over/under a number of ways which almost always includes a moneyline component. The moneyline adjusts the amount of your payout based on what you bet from something slightly off even money. In over/under bets it’s usually -110 on each side, meaning you need to wager $110 to win $100 on either the over or the under.
Betting the over/under is not a sweet science. Individual bettors would do well to develop their own processes for making these wagers. Major factors that should be weighed into betting decisions should include the following:
Trends: Team and leaguewide trends are perhaps the best methods to access the over/under bet. A good current example of a trend is that total points scored are up considerably over the last two seasons, and that trend has continued into this year, with teams scoring an average of 112.1 points per game, the highest since the 1970-71 NBA season.
Other trends may be less pronounced. The Milwaukee Bucks may be on a high-scoring streak, or the Golden State Warriors may be struggling to put up points. Two hot shooting teams matched up together may be an opportunity to bet the over, wherein two struggling teams or teams not playing with anything at stake could be the recipe for the under.
Past Match-ups: Because past performance is often a good indicator of future performance, looking at how two teams did against one another can be an important metric. Fortunately, this type of match-up data is widely available on the internet for quick head-to-head analysis.
Game Pace: The analytics movement in sports has been a valuable tool to sports bettors, particularly when it comes to assessing scoring. Today’s analytics closely track the offensive pace of every team in the league. You can leverage this data when making over/under bets by breaking down fast- and slow-paced teams and adjusting your wagers accordingly.