What is a Point Spread in Basketball?

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Sports betting has always been one of the biggest industries in the entire US, and basketball has always been one of the key sports betting markets. Competitive basketball, such as college tournaments or the NBA, is a high-stakes game that some people often bet on. In line with that, point spreading is one of the biggest bets in basketball betting. But what is a point spread and in basketball, and what does a point spread mean?

What is a Point Spread in BasketballWhat is a Point Spread in Basketball?

Basketball is a sport with stakes that are not only confined within the four corners of the court. Instead, there are those watching and closely following the games because they have a large stake in the outcome of every game. The reason is that they have money on the line, especially when they are betting on the outcome of the games played at the professional and even the college levels.

Sports betting has always been a part of what makes professional sports so interesting in the United States. It allows the people who are not stakeholders or even fans of certain teams to cash in, depending on the game results. And because of how there are plenty of games played in professional and collegiate basketball leagues all over the country, basketball has become a prime target for sports betting.

One of the simplest forms of basketball betting is called point spread. This is one of the most basic ways of betting on a basketball game’s outcome without even considering who won in the game. And it is that very fact that makes NBA point spread in basketball betting so popular among different people around the world.

The major selling point of point spread betting is its parity, which allows the teams playing one another to be on a leveled playing field as far as basketball betting is concerned. This will make sense as we explain why parity is so important when betting on a basketball game.

What is a Point Spread in Basketball

In a basketball game, there will always be a superior team with better star players. Of course, that team is the favorite to win the game, and betting on that team will almost certainly guarantee a payout unless that team finds itself in the middle of a shooting drought or ends up with multiple injuries in the game. But, barring any hitches, the favorite should most likely win the game. So, betting on that team will force the sportsbook to lose money and go bankrupt because everyone betting on the game can just simply bet on the superior team to win.

But point spread creates a leveled playing field that gives the superior team a disadvantage and the inferior team an advantage. Point spread creates a situation wherein there is still a 50/50 chance of winning or losing the bet, which is essentially what gambling is all about. Sportsbooks will never make any money out of basketball betting if the superior team did not have some sort of a disadvantage and the inferior team is not given an advantage based on the point spread odds.

How Does Point Spread Work in BasketballHow Does Point Spread Work in Basketball?

In the most basic sense, point spread levels the playing field between teams by giving the favored team a handicap while allowing the underdog to have some sort of an advantage. The sportsbook allows point spread to work by putting a betting line that represents how many points they think the better team will win over the inferior team. You will see this in the – and the + signs next to the team’s name when you look at the point spread odds of a basketball game.

The team with the – sign is supposed to be the favored one, while the other team should have the + sign. Meanwhile, the numbers next to the signs represent how many points the sportsbook thinks the favored team will win. The favored team should now exceed the sportsbook’s margin for a person to win the bet. It is not enough for the team to win because it needs to win by more points than the odds said.

How Does Point Spread Work in Basketball

Of course, the same concept applies to the losing team if you were to bet on them. The losing team has to either win the game or lose by fewer points than the odds said. However, if that team loses by a greater margin than what the odds said, you will lose your bet. 

As you can see, point spread betting works is quite simple because all you need to look at are the – and + signs that are next to the names of the teams playing when you are looking at the odds. It now comes down to how well the team performs and whether or not the odds are against you.

Point spread, in this sense, allows both teams to play on an equal field as far as sports betting is concerned. So, even though a team is favored to win against a much weaker opponent, you still need to make sure that the team makes it over that point “line” or “spread” for you to cash out on your winnings.

But be reminded that point spreading only applies to sports betting and not to the actual game. As far as the players on the court are concerned, they are more concerned about winning the game than winning by a number that exceeds the line or the spread. 

There are some situations where the superior team is already over the margin before the fourth quarter begins but ends up going under the spread at the end of the game because they opted to rest their starters. This is where it can get tricky because not all teams are concerned about winning by a huge margin as much as they are concerned about keeping their best players healthy and well-rested. That is why, as simple as point spread betting may be, it is never easy to predict how many points the winning team will have at the end of the game.

What Does a +7 Spread MeanWhat Does a +7 Spread Mean?

Now, if you try to look at the odds and you see a team with a +7 spread, you might be wondering what that means. Based on how point spread betting works, the team with the +7 is the inferior team that is predicted to lose that game. The +7 symbolizes how many points the sportsbook believes that the team is going to lose.

What Does a +7 Spread Mean

So, if you were to bet on the team with a +7 spread, that means that the team should either win the game or lose by six or fewer points for you to win the bet. If the team loses by seven points, the bet is a tie. However, if the team loses by more than seven points, you will lose your bet if you placed your bet on the team with a +7 spread.

How Do You Place a Point Spread Bet in BasketballHow Do You Place a Point Spread Bet in Basketball?

If you want to place a point spread bet in any basketball game, it is important to first know whether or not both offline and online sports betting is legal in your state. Currently, here are the states that allow offline sports betting:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia

Among those states, Arkansas, New Mexico, New York, and North Carolina are the only ones that do not allow online sports betting.

So, if you have determined that sports betting is legal in your state, the next thing you might want to do is to go to a nearby casino to place your bet. However, the easiest way to bet is to go to a sportsbook website or app. Some examples of these apps include:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Fox Bet
  • SugarHouse

The odds that these apps set on certain games will vary because different sportsbooks tend to predict the outcome of basketball games differently. Some might have larger or smaller point spreads on the winning team, while others may have a different winning team.

Example of Point Spread in Basketball

Example of Point Spread in BasketballExample of Point Spread in Basketball

If you want to know a good example of how point spread in basketball works, let us look at a sample game such as the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Brooklyn Nets. Based on the star power, availability of the players of both these teams, and whoever has homecourt advantage, let us say that the Nets have a –3 point spread while the Lakers have a +3 point spread.

Here are the scenarios that can happen if you bet on the Nets:

  • If the Nets win by three points, the bet is a tie.
  • If the Nets win by more than three points, you win the bet.
  • If the Nets win by two or fewer points, you lose the bet.
  • If the Nets lose the game, you lose the bet.

Meanwhile, if you placed your bet on the Lakers, here are the things that can happen:

  • If the Lakers lose by three points, the bet is a tie.
  • If the Lakers lose by two or fewer points, you win the bet.
  • If the Lakers lose by more than three points, you lose the bet.
  • If the Lakers win the game, you win the bet.

So, now that you know the different scenarios that can happen based on the odds, what you need to do is to formulate your own basketball betting strategy based on your own analysis of which team will win and by how many points the team will win. You can also bet on multiple games to increase your chances of paying out.

How Do Point Spreads Pay Out in BasketballHow Do Point Spreads Pay Out in Basketball?

Usually, point spread wagers payout by a margin of -110. There are some variations in the payout odds, but you will almost always see a margin of -110. But what does this margin mean?

If you bet $100 on a basketball game with a payout margin of -110, you will have a profit of $90.90. You can get that value by dividing your bet by the absolute value of the payout margin and then multiplying the result by 100.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Point Spread in Basketball?

Point spread betting can be a fun and engaging way for you to feel like you have a stake in the results of a certain basketball game. It is simple to understand and very easy to bet on. However, it can be tricky if you do not do your own analysis and have no betting strategy heading into the game. This is why point spread betting can sometimes be a double-edged sword that can give you a good payout or harm you if you are not too careful with how you handle your bets.

Did you enjoy this post? Then you’ll love the other basketball FAQ articles. Check them out below:

> What is a 3-Way Bet in Basketball?

> What is a Money Line Bet in Basketball?

> What Does Over Under Mean in Basketball?

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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