Why the over/under basketball betting is so popular

Over/Under betting in basketball attracts a lot of bettors. Only the spread gets more action. So bettors find a lot of value in Over/Under betting and it is a relatively straight forward, simple market to approach.

But what is it exactly and what is involved? What are the key things to look for in over/under basketball betting? We explore all of that in this guide.

The basics of an Over/Under bet is about predicting the total points, goals or whatever it is, in a selection. The approachable thing about the market is that it has a fairly broad scope. 

For example, if a bettor thinks that an NHL match is going to go Under 5.5 goals, then it doesn’t matter how many goals are scored in the match as long as it’s less than five.

So the over/under is not anything based on the result. It is a prediction about the total score in a game.

So this simplicity is a clear reason why the basketball over/under option is so popular. It’s a market that offers plenty of leeway.

Favorable odds on totals

If you are looking at the spread for a basketball match at a sportsbook like 888, then you are going to find more wildly inflated odds than there is going to be in the over/under markets.

The common line for a Totals bet in basketball is going to be around the even money mark, with a little variance each way of course.

So let’s see the line in a match between the LA Lakers and the Golden State Warriors.

Over 200.5: -110

Under 200.5: +110 

In this example, an over 200.5 pick is taken, and a $100 stake will return $110. So as you can see the market margins are not very wide at all there. But sizing up the game it may be a much easier call to make on a prediction of the Over/Under market than a spread. 

As a comparison maybe the LA Lakers had been (-110) for a +7.5 spread to win the game. For roughly the same price, that is a big conditional on not only the LA Lakers winning, but by them having to do so by at least eight points. So the over/under is less demanding.

Moving Lines

The lines for totals move and therefore the odds do as well. This is where the skill of the handicapper comes into basketball betting. Maybe a bettor in the above scenario fancies the game to be a really high scoring fixture as both teams are well in form and it should be a hot contest. Instead of settling for Over 200.5, the Total line could be shifted up to say Over 210.5 for more value the first option. So that is where reading the game comes in.

Reading the game 

Taking luck out of the equation, the pick that is made on a Basketball Over/under would need to be selected based on statistics of course. There’s no way to read a potential game without doing so.

What we mean by this is looking for the perceived weaknesses v strengths of the two opposing teams.

The things to look for a betting strategy are current averages. This includes how many points per game the home team is scoring against how many points the road team is averaging on their travels. The same will need to be done from the defensive tallies to get a fuller picture.

The relative form of the home v road team is important and head to head information can prove valuable when it comes to selecting where you, as a bettor, thinks a fair line is going to be in terms of totals for the game.

If for example, the last three meetings between the teams have averaged between 98 and 108 points, it’s a fair assumption that things could be around that mark again.

So even though the result of the game to the bettor doesn’t matter, reading the teams to see potential relative points output is still needed.

A familiar form of betting

Over/under or totals is not a type of betting exclusively to the basketball of course. They are found all over in the world of sports from betting, from the NFL to the NHL and soccer as well. This is a hugely popular form of soccer betting.

That’s because the markets are pretty stable in terms of value and it is a very accessible market for beginners.

Over or under a certain amount of goals? That’s it at the basic level. The advanced skill level comes in extending the line away from those even-money average totals.


There are challenges to be had in basketball over/under. In a soccer match, the average line on just about all games is Over/Under 2.5 goals. However, in basketball, there is a much wider scope when it comes to totals because the points ranges go from anywhere from around the 160 mark up to 220.

So it is a harder market to call in basketball than in it is soccer. But that is where those extra handicapping skills in knowing when to hit sportsbooks with the lower totals or to push the bar a little higher, comes in. At the end of the day it remains a popular market for basketball because of value.

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