Live Odds: NCAAF Money Lines & Totals

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Friday, April 18, 2014

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NCAAF Odds Legend

  • Point spread

    There is a saying in Las Vegas: you win it on Saturday and give it back on Sunday. That expression promotes the old myth that beating the college football points spread is easy but winning in the NFL is much harder. Also known as the line or spread, it is not the predicted margin of victory for one team but rather a number chosen by Las Vegas and overseas oddsmakers that will encourage an equal number of people to wager on the underdog as on the favorite. The negative value (-13.5) indicates that team is favored by 13.5 points. The positive value (+13.5) indicates that team is the underdog by 13.5 points. Betting on the favorite means the team must win by at least 14 points to cover the point spread. The underdog team can lose by 13 points and still cover the spread.

    You will also notice a moneyline value associated with the point spread (such as -13.5, -115). This indicates how much you must risk in order to place the bet (also known as the vig or juice). It means you have to risk $115 to win $100. The underdog may see a value such as +13.5, +105. This means you risk $1,000 to win $105 if your team covers the spread. The spread is not a static number, so you will notice line moves during the week. Team A may be favored by 3 points on Tuesday and by 4.5 points on Friday. This indicates more people are betting on them, so Las Vegas increases the underdog value hoping to encourage more wagers on the underdog.

  • Moneyline

    There are times when moneyline wagering is smarter than point-spread wagering and this is why moneylines are growing in popularity. Typically used in baseball and hockey, pro football moneylines are popular in Las Vegas for picking underdogs. The team you choose only has to win the game, not win by a certain number of runs or goals. The negative value still indicates the favorite (-150) and the positive value indicates the underdog (+130). It's easiest to picture the number 100 sitting in the middle of these two values.

    For example, if you want to pick a -150 favorite, you would risk $150 in order to win $100. On the underdog, you would risk $100 and win $130 if the underdog wins. It's a simple way to have the risk-reward scenario. In the right circumstance, where you have a small underdog, you can get a very similar bet by risking less and also get a bigger payout by going the moneyline route.

  • Total

    It is also widely known as the over/under and, just like the point-spread myth, it is not the Las Vegas guess at how many points will be scored in the game by both teams combined. It’s a number it feels will encourage just as many bets on the over as the under. If you picked the under 47.5, you want tough defense and teams running the ball to eat the clock. If you pick the over, you want offensive fireworks and long bombs for TDs. In totals betting, you are predicting whether the combined total score will be more than or less than the total.

  • Futures

    Right after the BCS champion has been crowned, new odds on next year’s title game will go up in Las Vegas. Wagers on a future event (like who will win next year's college football championship) are known as college football futures. Oddsmakers adjust lines during the year, depending on the strength or weakness of teams, then offer wagers on each team to win. For example, a league's top team may be +150 to win the championship. That means a $100 wager would pay $150 profit. However, a poor team might be +3000, indicating it is not expected to win and a $100 wager would pay $3,000 as a huge longshot. They can be profitable but also take a long time to settle the bet.

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