What does Spread mean in Basketball Betting?

Basketball spread betting is the most popular way to bet on both college and NBA basketball. In the simplest terms possible, basketball spread betting allows bettors to bet on teams that are not evenly matched, by handicapping the favorite and making it possible to pick either side without ever losing much value on your bet. As you can see, spread betting might be the most important and most popular betting type. In the article below, we will explain exactly what does spread mean in basketball betting.

How does the spread work in sports betting?

Before explaining how the spread works in basketball betting we need to explain how it works in all sports. The spread, also referred to as the line, is used to even the odds between two unevenly matched teams.

Bookmakers set a spread with the hopes of getting equal action on both sides of a game. For example, the Colts are a -3 point favorite against the Texans. The -3 points is the spread. If you want to bet the Colts on the spread, it would mean the Colts need to win by at least three points for you to win the bet. If the Colts win by two points, you would lose the bet because they didn’t hit the key number of three. 

The spread at -3 suggests the teams are fairly equal and maybe in this case, the Colts are only -3 because they are playing at home. Bookmakers see these teams as equal and expect to receive fairly even money from bettors. If these teams were widely considered equal and bookmakers put the spread at -10, they wouldn’t get equal money as Texans +10 would likely be pounded by bettors.

What does Spread mean in Basketball Betting?
Basketball Betting

What does Spread mean in Basketball Betting?

A point spread is the amount of points, set by a sportsbook, that a team must win by, or stay within, for the bet on that team to pay out. The team generally believed to be more likely to win in this game, the favorite, is assigned a number of points, written with a “-“ in front of it. If they win the game by more than that many points, they have covered the spread. This means that bets made on this spread win.

The underdog—the team considered less likely to win—‘s point spread is expressed with a “+” in front of it. If the underdog can win or lose by less than their point spread number, that team’s point spread wins. For example, if the Knicks are struggling and they play the Miami Heat, the point spread might look like this:

New York Knicks (+8) at Miami Heat (-8)

In this case, the Heat would have to win by at least 9 for bettors on the Miami Heat at -8 to be paid out. This situation is commonly referred to as covering the spread. For the New York Knicks to cover the spread at +8, the team would have to either win the game outright, or lose by 7 or less.

A Push

Lets imagine the teams were to play to a score that separated them by the exact number of the spread. In such a case, the bet would be graded as a push. Wagers on both sides of that point spread would be refunded. To avoid this situation, point spreads will often be set with half points, for example -8.5. In those cases, there can be no pushes, as either the favorite or underdog will always cover.

Other Bets

Point spreads are a useful starting point for other types of bets. With teaser bets, for example, bettors can bet on multiple games at the same time while accessing juicier lines. Point spreads can also be added to parlays to increase the payout while betting on multiple outcomes. All things aside, basketball spread betting is a great way to open up a game. There are games that can be tough to wager on using just the moneyline. Try a spread bet or two today and get into the action!