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Basketball is one of the fastest paced games around, showcasing extreme athleticism, incredible style and high drama. One thing’s for sure, there’s seldom a dull game of basketball, and basketball betting has the potential to be just as exciting.
While America’s NBA reigns supreme in the basketball betting world, with the National Basketball Association, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Women’s National Basketball Association all commanding a large gambling contingent, there are other areas with similar betting opportunities. Many of these have soared in popularity in Europe, with the French Pro A, the Spanish ACB, and the German BBL all boasting thousands of fans. There are also lesser known states where basketball is a big draw, both in terms of fans and punters, with the likes of Turkey’s TBL, and Lithuania’s Beko LKL both growing in prominence.
There is also the Euroleague, which is similar in size and stature to football’s UEFA Cup. In fact, many of the favourites will be familiar to football fans, as they are linked to clubs through stadium use or sponsorship. Two big Spanish sides, Real Madrid and Barcelona, share colours and logos with their basketball cousins, and as in football, they are often odds-on favourites to win the Euroleague as well as their domestic competition. Other sports clubs that offer both decent football and basketball teams to place bets on are CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce, and Panathinaikos.
However, the European market is still relatively small compared to the dominant American NBA. NBA punters have a choice of betting options for individual games and season long bets, including using the point spread system, game totals, team totals, or utilising the money line. As well as single matches, bets can also be placed on the overall championship winner, or, if gamblers are less confident in the outcome, whether the winner will be from the Eastern or Western Conference. There is also the option of a narrower geography-based bet, picking which American state the winner will hail from, or which of the six NBA divisions they will play in – Central Southwest, Southeast, Northwest, Pacific, or Atlantic.
The NBA is split into the Eastern and Western conferences, with each conference split again into 3 divisions. The winners of these divisions, plus the best runner up from each conference, meet at the end of the season in the playoffs to decide the overall champion. Basketball betting in the long term covers the playoff and conference markets, but taking a punt on who’ll be voted the season’s MVP (most valuable player) can also be fruitful.
In the short term, you may want to bet on certain games. The most popular market in NBA betting is the spread; essentially, predicting the points difference between two teams at full-time. NBA spreads are slightly more complicated than other sports; a typical NFL game will only have a spread of 7.5 points. However, when everything is taken into account in basketball – team form, individuals’ form – the point spread can be anything up to 35.
This is because teams in the NBA are hardly ever evenly matched. The Golden State Warriors, for example, are guaranteed to thrash the Minnesota Timberwolves - perhaps by as much as 30 points. What’s more, when the true stars of the league have an on-form night, it isn’t a surprise to see them dunk 30 or 40 points alone; in the NBA, star quality really does count for a lot. As such, when trying to predict the spread, be sure to check for big names, a decent run of team form and any signs of weakness in the opposition’s defence.
As well as NBA betting, Ladbrokes covers the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) league. Keeping an eye on the NCAA is a great strategy in basketball betting as it provides a valuable insight into the NBA betting odds for the forthcoming season, as the best graduates from the NCAA league will be drafted by the NBA teams. You might want to follow the NCAA closely to hazard a guess as to who will be crowned the league’s MVP, as well as watch out for which teams are watching which players.
In-play markets for basketball betting can be particularly exciting given the number of unique occurrences that can happen during any one game. You can bet on the amount of slam dunks or even the amount of alley-oops (where a player catches the ball mid-jump before scoring). Other in-play markets include highest points scorer, highest number of assists and highest number of rebounds and, given the lightning quick pace of the game, the odds are always changing.
As with any sports betting, it is all about trying to get one up on the bookmakers. Be sure to analyse team form as well as individual pedigree and, if you can, take a look at the juniors to see who might just make you some money next year.
For those who believe they can not only pick out a successful team but a stand-out player, punters can bet on who will win the NBA’s Annual MVP Award, one which has become better known as a funny internet meme. There is also the opportunity to select the most valuable rookie player, as well as guessing who will be voted as best coach for the season.
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