NCAA Basketball Betting Sites
With college basketball teams in Knoxville and Memphis that are almost always a threat in the NCAA Tournament — plus a dozen more D1 college basketball teams across the state — college basketball is a big deal in Tennessee. Naturally, that means college basketball betting is also a big deal.
You can’t access live in-game betting for college basketball in Tennessee, but you can bet on just about everything else. That means you can bet on NCAA regular-season games, conference tournaments and, indeed, bet on March Madness.
Here’s how you can get in on all this NCAA basketball betting action, including where you can bet, how to bet, and exactly whom you should be betting on right here in Tennessee.
Best College Basketball Betting Sites
Live college basketball odds
Below, you’ll find a snapshot of the latest NCAA basketball point spreads, moneylines and totals available at the top TN online sportsbooks. Click on any odds to go directly to the online sportsbook, claim exclusive free bets or bonuses, and get your bet down. For the full college basketball odds board, go to our full live sports betting odds feed.
NCAA Basketball AP Top 25 poll
Take a look at current team rankings at AP’s Top 25 Poll.
Top TN college basketball teams to bet on
While there are a dozen NCAA Division I college basketball teams in Tennessee, there are three big-time programs that compete at the highest level:
The University of Tennessee Volunteers compete in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee men’s basketball ranks third in all-time wins in the SEC.
The team has appeared in 23 NCAA Tournaments through 2021, with a combined 22-24 record. The Volunteers’ best-ever NCAA Tournament finish was an Elite Eight berth in 2010 where they ultimately lost by a point to Michigan State.
The Volunteers have been as high as a No. 2 seed three times. The last time was in 2019, when they lost to No. 3 Purdue in the Sweet Sixteen.
- Campus: Knoxville, TN
- Arena: Thompson-Boling Arena “The Summitt”
- Coach: Rick Barnes (since 2015)
- Notable current and legendary pros: Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Grant Williams, Bernard King, Dale Ellis, Allan Houston, Ernie Grunfeld
The Memphis Tigers represent the University of Memphis and compete in the American Athletic Conference.
The team has appeared in 26 NCAA Tournaments through 2021. While the Tigers’ actual tourney record is 34-26, wins from 1982 to 1986 and 2008 have been vacated by the NCAA due to various infractions.
The Tigers’ best-ever NCAA Tournament finish came in 2008. They were a No. 1 seed and made it all the way to the national championship game, where they lost to Kansas in overtime. The Tigers were also a No. 1 seed in 2006, but lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight.
- Campus: Memphis, TN
- Arena: FedExForum
- Coach: Penny Hardaway (since 2018)
- Notable current and legendary pros: Tyreke Evans, Will Barton, Derrick Rose, Penny Hardaway
The Vanderbilt University Commodores play in the SEC alongside the Tennessee Volunteers.
The team has appeared in 15 NCAA Tournaments through 2021 with a 10-16 record. The Commodores’ best NCAA Tournament finish came in 1965, when they made the Elite Eight and lost to Michigan.
Vanderbilt has made the Sweet Sixteen five times since then, the last time in 2007. The Commodores have never been higher than a No. 3 seed. That was in 1993, and they lost to No. 7 Temple in the Sweet Sixteen.
- Campus: Nashville, TN
- Arena: Memorial Gymnasium
- Coach: Jerry Stackhouse (since 2019)
- Notable current and legendary pros: Festus Ezeli, Damian Jones, DeMarre Carroll, Will Purdue
Tennessee basketball rivals
While the top-three NCAA basketball programs in the state are all considered fierce rivals, the Tennessee Volunteers’ biggest rival may be another SEC team: the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky has almost always been the better team. In fact, the two teams have met 232 times up to 2021, and Kentucky has a 157-75 record against the Vols. The two schools are only 173 miles apart, and they’ve been playing basketball against each other since 1910.
Because they all play in the SEC, Tennessee-Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt-Kentucky are also rivalries. However, the high-profile nature of the programs in Memphis and Tennessee may make that rivalry even more bitter than any other in the state. The Tigers and Vols are often nationally ranked, making the matchup one of the more important out-of-conference rivalries in college basketball. The war of words between the two teams after the final whistle has been as entertaining as the games themselves.
NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament (March Madness)
There’s no bigger betting event than March Madness. Here’s how it will all go down:
- Conference games and records determine seeding in the conference tournaments held in early March.
- Conference tournament winners get an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament.
- The NCAA will also put on Selection Sunday, picking 36 other at-large selections for the tournament. The NCAA will determine seeding and which teams will have to play their way into the first round through the “First Four” games.
- The First Four games are set for Tuesday and Wednesday after Selection Sunday. That’ll leave 64 teams to start the first round on Thursday and Friday.
- Winners will advance to the second round, taking place on the weekend.
The Sweet Sixteen is set for the next Thursday/Friday. The Elite Eight will play out on the Saturday/Sunday.
Finally, the Final Four is set for the Saturday night of the following weekend with the national championship game on the Monday night.
Free March Madness bracket contests
The most popular way to bet on the NCAA Tournament has always been the brackets. You fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket sheet before the start of the tournament, picking the winner of every game. Then, you enter it into a free or paid pool where whoever gets the most picks correct wins.
There are a number of free NCAA Tournament bracket contests every year that you can enter to win significant prize money, including:
- FanDuel — Free Bracket Pick’em contest with cash prizes.
- DraftKings — $30k March Mania Survivor Pool plus Bracket Challenge, both free to play.
- BetMGM— $10 million for a perfect bracket and $100k top prize for a free bracket challenge.
Second Chance March Madness Bracket Pools
If your bracket busts early, you’re not alone. Second chance pools give you a chance to compete for prizes the rest of the way, beginning with the Sweet 16. DraftKings has a few different options to consider.
- State Farm $20k Free Second Chance Bracket Pool: Pick the winners of each game and earn points for correct calls. The highest-scoring brackets win cash prizes.
- KFC Free $20k Second Chance Survivor Pool: Survive to the end without missing a pick for each round and you’ll get a share of the prize pool.
How to bet on college basketball
You can bet on NCAA basketball pretty much the same way you bet on anything else. Basic game markets include:
The moneyline: Pick the winner of a game and lock in the bet at currently posted odds. Lines look like this:
- Memphis -175
- Tennessee +150
The -175 odds on Memphis mean you have to bet $175 on the Tigers to win $100, plus your bet back. The +150 odds on the Vols mean you’d win $150, plus your bet back, for every $100 you bet on Tennessee.
The spread: Pick the winner of a game with a line set by oddsmakers factored into the final score. Lines look like this:
- Memphis -5.5 (-110)
- Tennessee +5.5 (-110)
The -5.5 line on Memphis means the Tigers have to win by six points or more for bets on them to pay. The odds are in parentheses, which means you’d have to bet $110 on Memphis to win $100 plus your bet back.
The +5.5 line on Tennessee means the Vols have to win outright or lose by five points or fewer for bets on them to pay. The odds are in parentheses, which means you’d have to bet $110 on Tennessee to win $100 plus your bet back.
Totals (over/under): Bet on if the total points scored in a game will be over or under a line set by oddsmakers. Lines look like this:
- Memphis/Tennessee O/U 165.5 (-110)
Pick the over and the Vols and Tigers will have to combine to score 166 points or more for you to win. Again, the odds are in parentheses, which means you have to bet $110 on the over to win $100 plus your bet back.
Pick the under and the Vols and Tigers will have to combine to score 165 points or fewer for you to win. The odds are in parentheses, same as the over bet.
Parlays: Put two or more bets into one to make it a parlay. Stretch the odds, but remember that each leg of the parlay must win for you to get paid.
College basketball betting tips
1. Shop around
Whether you are new to NCAA basketball betting or a seasoned veteran, the first thing you’ll want to do before placing a bet is to shop for the best price on that bet.
Shopping around for NCAA basketball bets is as simple as checking the lines on a game you are interested in betting on at more than one Tennessee online sportsbook or betting app.
It might not help you win the bets you place, but getting the best price on a bet will make you more profitable on your winners in the long run.
2. Do the research
Finding an edge in college basketball betting is all about research. You have to dive deep into the teams you’re thinking of betting on to determine that team’s true odds of winning.
Once you’ve done that, you can compare it to the NCAAB betting lines posted at TN online sportsbooks. Find bets that have a higher probability of happening than the odds you’re getting, and you’ll have an edge. But remember, it all starts with great research and your ability to determine the real probability of a team winning through that research.
With so many teams playing NCAA basketball, oddsmakers often have a tough time keeping up. That means they may make mistakes, potentially giving you more of an edge than you might find betting on other sports.
Once again, finding these edges starts with great research. If you focus on specific teams or certain conferences, you might have the ability to inform yourself better than the books. That could lead to more edges identified and an increased chance of winning more.
How to stream NCAA basketball in TN
Many Tennessee Volunteers and Vanderbilt Commodores basketball games air on the SEC Network, including conference tournament games. The SEC Network is available on basic cable channels in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, plus AT&T U-verse, Spectrum, Comcast, DISH and DirecTV.
You can also stream the SEC Network through WatchESPN, fuboTV, Hulu Live TV and Sling TV. Plus, Vols games are broadcast on local radio stations and TV stations in Tennessee that are part of the Vols Network. This includes ABC, CBS and FOX affiliates across the state and FOX Sports Southeast.
Memphis Tigers games are broadcast on CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. You can stream most of these channels through fuboTV, Hulu Live TV and Sling TV.
Top 3 moments in Tennessee college basketball history
1. Penny takes Tigers to Elite 8
Penny Hardaway is now the coach of the Memphis Tigers. However, he was a player in the 1990s and a great one at that.
He led the team to a 1992 NCAA Tournament bid, and the Tigers made it to the Elite Eight before losing to Cincinnati. Hardaway trained with the Dream Team that summer and returned to Memphis for a memorable 1992-93 season that included posting the first triple-double in team history, and the second in back-to-back games, including one over Vanderbilt.
He also led the Tigers to their 1,000th all-time win, getting revenge against No. 4 Cincinnati. Penny left for the NBA after that year, but it was one of the most memorable in TN college basketball history.
2. Vols take down No. 2 Wildcats
Considering the heated SEC rivalry and the fact that Kentucky was No. 2 in the country at the time, the Vols’ 82-80 win over the Wildcats in January 2017 is one of the biggest moments in Tennessee basketball history, particularly in the modern era.
Kentucky had six future NBA players on the roster, including stars De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo, but that wasn’t good enough on this night. Senior guard Robert Hubbs dropped 25, and the steady Vols put the Wildcats away from the line late.
3. D-Rose almost brings home national championship
The NCAA may not recognize it because of eligibility concerns surrounding Derrick Rose, but the 2008 national championship game is probably the shining moment in Tennessee college basketball.
All four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four that year, including Memphis. Memphis met Kansas in the national championship game, but lost in overtime, 75–68.
Memphis had a nine-point lead with 2:12 remaining but could not make free throws to seal the win. Kansas scored 12 points in the last two minutes to tie it, including a Mario Chalmers three with 2.1 seconds left.
Kansas rolled in OT, scoring the first six points, but it remains the closest any team from Tennessee has come to winning a national title.
Current Tennessee players in the NBA
The list of Tennessee-born players currently in the NBA as of 2021 includes:
- James Wiseman
- J.J. Redick
- Lou Williams
- Jordan Bone
- Jeremiah Martin
- Garrison Mathews
- Cameron Payne
- Chris Chiozza
Is this a trick question? Memphis came close, losing in the national championship game in 2008. However, no team from Tennessee has ever won a national title in basketball.
The Tennessee Volunteers’ best ever NCAA Tournament finish saw them reach the Elite Eight. The same is true for the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Memphis Tigers made the Final Four in 2008, marking the first and only time a Tennessee-based school has done it.
The winners of 32 conference tournaments get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Then, the NCAA Selection Committee, made up of former players and coaches, gets together on Selection Sunday in March to pick 36 other at-large selections. They also determine seeding and who will have to play in the First Four games to get into the first round.
Tennessee sportsbooks either have their own oddsmakers or hire oddsmaking services to set lines for everything, including NCAA basketball. The fact that some employ the same oddsmaking services is why you often see similar lines at different TN sportsbooks. However, they don’t all get their lines from the same place, which is why you should always shop around for the best price on a bet.
If more betting comes in on one side of a bet than the other, sportsbooks will move the line to attract more action to the other side.
There could end up being more betting on Tennessee basketball in Tennessee than Las Vegas, so TN online sportsbooks and apps could then be more likely to adjust the lines on local NCAA basketball games than Vegas would be.