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What Is a Team Total in Sports Betting?

What Is a Team Total in Sports Betting? article feature image
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Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Blake Corum

A team total in sports betting is just what it sounds like — a wager on how many total points that team will score in a game.

Like a full game over/under, you don’t need to guess the team’s total points exactly. You’re wagering on whether it not the team will go over or under a predetermined amount.

Team totals are available in every sport. Here are a few examples:

Team Total Examples

1. Georgia (26.5) vs. Michigan (19.5)

Based on the spread and total, sportsbooks are expecting Georgia to win around 26-19.

That’s why Michigan’s team total is 19.5, and Georgia’s is 26.5. You can wager on either team going over or under their specific number.

  • Spread: Georgia -7.5
  • Full game over/under: 46
  • Projected score: 26.5-19.5

2. Lakers (116.5) vs. Blazers (111.5)

In this NBA example, the Lakers are a 5-point favorite over the Blazers with the total at 227. That’s why their team total is 116.5, five points higher than Portland’s, and both team totals add up to 227.

  • Spread: Lakers -5
  • Full game over/under: 227
  • Projected score: 116.5-111.5

3. Lightning (3.5) vs. Rangers (2.5)

In lower-scoring sports like hockey, baseball or soccer, sportsbooks only have so many numbers to pick from. Even if an NHL team is a huge favorite, it’s unlikely they score five goals, so they can’t set the team total at 4.5.

Instead, books will adjust the juice on the total and change your payouts based on how likely each scenario is.

Take this Lightning-Rangers example. Tampa is favored to win the game, but it’s still more likely they go under 3.5 goals than over.

  • Lightning team total is 3.5
  • The over is +125 ($10 wins $12.5)
  • The under is -155 ($15.5 wins $10)

You can also bet the Lightning over 2.5 goals, but pay a bigger premium to bet the over, because it’s much more likely Tampa scores three goals than four:

  • Lightning team total is 2.5
  • The over is -190 ($19 wins $10)
  • The under is +150 ($10 wins $15)

How Are Team Totals Made?

Team totals are derived from the point spread and full game total, and will move if those lines move.

The sportsbook is telling you the approximate final score with the point spread and full game total, like we detailed above. That’s how they get the team totals.

In football, some numbers are more important than others because of how points are scored — 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, 31, 35, etc.

So the team totals don’t always add up to the full game total.

What Does a Team Total Bet Pay?

A standard team total bet pays about the same as a point spread. So you’ll be paying around -110 ($1.10 wins $1) for a team total bet.

Of course, sportsbooks now offer alternate team totals. So if you want to bet Georgia over 31.5 points, you can get a better payout because it’s less likely the Dawgs get over that number.

Why Bet a Team Total?

Team totals are popular options when you believe something about one specific team in a game.

Let’s say you like Georgia’s defense to dominate Michigan, but you’re not sure about the UGA offense. You can bet Michigan’s team total under 19.5.

You could just bet Georgia -7.5 if you like the Dawgs that much, but because it’s projected to be low scoring, you may not be confident they’ll score enough to cover that big spread.

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