Sports betting is legal in Illinois. If you are 21 years or older, you can legally place bets on NCAA Division I men’s basketball.
When it comes to college basketball betting, you have lots of options. You can wager on futures, parlays or brackets and, of course, moneyline bets, point spreads and totals. In Illinois, you can use online sportsbooks and apps to place live bets.
One thing to note about NCAA betting is Illinois law makes it illegal to place wagers on state-based teams. While you can’t bet on the Fighting Illini or the Ramblers, there’s a wealth of other college teams and tournaments to fill the gap.
We’ve put together a college basketball betting guide for you to begin your NCAA sports betting journey. We cover the basics, including wager types and how to read the odds, and we even have some NCAA basketball betting tips for you to consider.
See below for a snapshot of current live college basketball odds posted at Illinois online sportsbooks. See the first tab below for point spreads, moneylines and totals for upcoming games; see the second tab for futures odds for the National Championship, Final Four and Conference titles. To see the full expanded NCAAB odds board, check our live sports betting odds feed. Click on any odds to go directly to the online sportsbook, claim your bonus and start getting your NCAAB bets down.
College basketball is one of the most popular sports in the US. In Illinois, it has faithful followers who will now be more involved than filling out a yearly bracket for betting on March Madness.
There are currently 32 conferences for fans to cheer for, comprising 351 teams across the country. The season typically starts in late November, and most teams hit the hardwood with one goal: to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The next national championship tournament — known as March Madness or “the big dance” — will start with a selection show on Sunday, March 14, 2021, and proceed into the single-elimination tournament. It’s a winner-take-all format that culminates with the national championship on April 5, 2021.
Every season, there seems to be at least one team from Illinois that makes it to the dance. Loyola and Illinois are the most recent entrants in the men’s bracket. However, in any given year, you never know who could break out and make the selection committee take notice.
Absolutely! In fact, 2020 was the first year that sports betting became legal, thanks to the passage of the Sports Wagering Act in 2019.
The basic rules for sports betting in Illinois are simple:
The Illinois Gaming Board oversees the regulation and licensing within the state for not only sportsbooks but also for casinos.
The only restriction of note for sports betting in Illinois when it comes to NCAA basketball is that Section 25-25.d of the state’s law makes it illegal to accept a wager “for a sports event involving an Illinois collegiate team.”
Unlike other states, Illinois law is not as restrictive as it could be. In New Jersey, Virginia and Washington, DC, wagers are not allowed on any college event within state borders. So, when the Big Ten Tournament arrives in Illinois, sports bettors will still be able to wager on the outcome as long as it’s not an Illinois team.
Sports bettors can wager on any other NCAA basketball team for which they can find odds at Illinois sportsbooks — and there will be plenty of odds to find.
The chances are that you’ve already been involved in some form of gambling when it comes to college basketball. Even nonsports people often get corralled into an office pool for March Madness. With the new laws and sportsbooks open in Illinois, the options beyond filling out a bracket.
If you’ve had any previous betting experience, then you’re in luck. Making a wager on NCAA basketball is similar to placing a bet on basketball or any other sport. The basics are the same, and there isn’t anything unique to college hoops betting.
Speaking of the basics, here is a breakdown of the five most common bet types you’ll hear about when it comes to college basketball wagers.
This wager is the simplest of all the bet types. The oddsmakers look at a game between two teams and decide which they think is going to win. They give that team odds with a negative number, which indicates it is the favorite, while the team that is expected to lose will have a positive number, making it the underdog. For example:
|Michigan State -110
|Iowa State +225|
You can see that Michigan State is favored, so it has a negative number. If you wanted to win $100 on a successful moneyline bet on the Spartans, you’d need to wager $110. The winning bet would then pay you back $210 — your stake, plus the $100 profit.
On the other hand, if you placed a $100 wager on Iowa State and it pulls off the upset, you’d get $325 back — your $100 wager, plus $225 in profit.
While slightly more complicated than a moneyline bet, the spread still is relatively easy to understand. At a sportsbook, you’ll see the spread odds along with the information that gives you the teams, the time and date of the matchup, and the odds for the other bet types. The way a point spread works is the oddsmakers determine the favorite and then set an estimated margin of victory.
You decide if you think the favorite is going to win by more than that margin. If it does — which is called covering the spread — then a bet on the favored side would be a winner. If the favorite wins by fewer points than the indicated spread, or it loses outright, then such a bet would be a loss. So, a bet on the underdog would win. Here’s an example:
|Villanova -6.5 (-110)
|Temple +6.5 (-110)|
As you can see, the book believes Villanova will win this game and by more than 6.5 points. As a bettor, if you have done your research and you agree, you could place a $110 bet on Villanova to win a profit of $100. The catch is that if Villanova wins, but by only three points, then your bet would lose. Temple, meanwhile, just has to lose by fewer than 6.5 points, or win outright for bets on it to win.
You may have heard of a totals bet, aka, the over/under. The way it works is sportsbooks list an estimated combined score for a game. You can then bet on whether you think the two teams’ score will go over or under that total.
So, it doesn’t matter who wins; the total final score is what matters. Here’s a quick example of a fictional game between Wisconsin and Marquette:
|Over: 135.5 (-110)
|Under: 135.5 (-110)|
If you bet on this game and choose the over, and the final score was 75-67, then you’d win the bet. However, if the final ends up being 67-60, then you would lose.
As with the point spread, the line often is set at a half-point to avoid the number being hit exactly, which would result in a “push” and a refund of all bets.
Parlays combined two or more bets onto a single slip, which increases the payout if the choices you’ve made are correct. However, the risk increases with each addition as well, so you have to weigh those factors.
You can make a parlay wager with the above single bet types, but remember that all your selections have to be right for your bet to pay out. Even one wrong answer and you lose.
This kind of wager is sometimes known as an in game bet. It allows you to make wagers on NCAA basketball games as they are happening in real-time. The college football odds on, e.g., quarter totals, player props and more continue to adjust throughout the live matchup, and you’re able to wager at any point during the game.
Live betting is almost exclusively the province of online sports betting sites and apps because the odds can instantly adjust as the action plays out on the court.
Sportsbooks are willing to let you glimpse into the future. Do you think you know who will be the national champion even before March Madness begins? Do you think you can predict the over/under on a specific team’s wins? How about the coach of the year?
Well, if making wagers about events that haven’t happened yet is something that piques your interest, then you’ll want to look into the college basketball futures market. Futures markets begin in the offseason and continue throughout the season, with the college basketball betting lines adjusting as things play out. If a team is making a good run with wins against quality opponents, you may see the March Madness odds change to reflect that.
Meanwhile, proposition bets, or props, are wagers on people or events that are separate from the actual outcome of the game. For instance, a wager on whether the final score will be odd or even would be a prop bet.
The regular college basketball season has three parts.
First, you have the regular season in which teams compete for the best record while trying to earn a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
One guaranteed way to get a berth is by winning the conference tournament, the second phase of a season. Conference tournament winners receive an automatic bid to the big dance, with the remaining teams selected outside of those squads.
The final part of the season is the NCAA Tournament, commonly known as March Madness.
Throughout the regular season, you’ll have plenty of ways you can watch NCAA men’s basketball in Illinois.
First and foremost, you have the regular cable and network channels, such as ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN2, FS1, Fox, CBS Sports and CBS. Beyond that, you can also get channels that feature only the teams from a specific conference, like the Big Ten Network.
When the NCAA Tournament rolls around, you’ll see games on CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV. Don’t worry if you don’t have those channels at home — sports bars all over the state will be playing the games, and you can follow online.
You can also check out CBSSports.com or get the March Madness app for your iOS or Android mobile device to follow along.
There are many colleges in Illinois and basketball programs to go with them. For the sake of local fandom, here is a rundown of the teams that play at the Division I level in the state:
If you’re ready to take the plunge and start making bets on NCAA basketball games, then you should try to assemble the absolute best betting strategy you can build. Don’t worry; it won’t be perfect at the start. You should always be looking to adjust and improve how you make your wagers as you gain more experience.
For newcomers to Illinois sports betting, we’ve assembled some college basketball betting tips:
Related Reading: How to Spot March Madness Upsets
It may be a surprise to folks who follow college basketball in Illinois. However, once upon a time, a team from the Land of Lincoln hoisted the national championship trophy.
In 1963, Loyola, led by coach George Ireland, won the NCAA Tournament title over Cincinnati. The game was played in Louisville, KY, and it took an overtime period to determine the winner. But when all was said and done, the Ramblers had a 60-58 victory and a national title.
Before the big dance was ever created, the Illinois Fighting Illini had two national titles of their own. In 1915, Illinois was 16-0 on the year and was named the national champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation. The team was coached by Ralph Jones.
Nearly 30 years later in 1943, Illinois, now coached by Douglas Mills, went 17-1 for the season and was named the national champ by the Premo-Porretta Power Poll.
The Loyola Ramblers were the most recent Final Four team from the state of Illinois. They were a Cinderella team in 2018, taking an 11th seed all the way to the Final Four. There they lost to the University of Michigan, which was a No. 3 seed, 69-57. Along the way, they defeated No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Nevada and No. 9 Kansas State.
The Fighting Illini from the University of Illinois were the most recent team to make it to the national championship game. They played against North Carolina in the national title game in 2005 but lost, 75-70.
You can! You can bet on the game-by-game contests throughout, or even futures bets and in game betting. The only catch is that Illinois law prevents you from wagering on a team that is from the state.
No. State law requires that bettors — who have to be at least 21 years old — be within state lines when placing a wager. Your sportsbook app uses geolocation software to ensure you are where you claim to be.
The 32 conference winners get automatic berths for winning their respective tournaments. After that, the NCAA Selection Committee, which is composed of former coaches and players, chooses the other 36 teams that have earned a bid. That committee also seeds the teams and determines which teams will play in the First Four games in order to make it into the first round of the NCAA Tournament.