College Basketball Betting Tips
by Trevor Whenham - 11/08/2006
March was a long time ago, so it is very exciting that college basketball is finally about to get going and we can get our fix again. With hundreds of teams playing thousands of games over the next five months, college basketball is heaven for both fans and bettors. If you can get yourself on a good streak (or find someone to do it for you), then you can have a very profitable winter. You are probably feeling a little rusty when it comes to college basketball handicapping after such a long off-season, so here, as a refresher, are 11 things you'll want to remember as you start making your picks:
1) Last year was last year - So much changes in college basketball every year that what happened last season is almost irrelevant to handicapping. You have to consider a team that has a lot of returning starters, of course, but don't fall into the trap of falling in love with a team this year just because of a solid tournament run last year. Betting on Gonzaga this year, for example, is going to be very, very different than it was last year. The fact that they were very good last year means nothing.
2) Big dogs are big dogs for a reason - In some other sports it can be tempting to take the underdogs when the spread is huge. That can be the case in college basketball, too, but there are often really good reasons why a team is being given a ton of points. This is especially true early on in the pre-conference schedule, when opponents can be horrifically mismatched. There's nothing wrong with liking a big underdog, just have a good reason for it.
3) Don't get overwhelmed - There are literally hundreds of college basketball games every weekend. You don't have to play all of them. Be patient to look for games that you feel good about. Develop a rational approach to evaluating games and only play the games that fit within your preferences.
4) Coaching really matters - Perhaps more than any other sport, coaching is crucial in college basketball. If all things are equal between two teams, the better coach will almost always win. Treat the coach like another player. This is especially true closer to the beginning of the season, when the better coach will have had more success installing a system and having his players playing together.
5) Look at rebounding edge - Part of what makes college basketball so great is that it's so far from perfect. The players are young and raw and they make a lot of mistakes. A team that rebounds well can overcome a lot of other troubles that they may have. If a team is significantly better at rebounding than their opponents then they may have a significant edge.
6) It's good to be home - Some teams have an incredibly strong home court advantage that you must account for. Duke, for example, is good for a lot of reasons, but the Cameron Crazies clearly don't hurt. You won't find an edge betting on Duke when they are at home, but you might by finding lower profile teams that have crazy fans. A loud crowd can fluster the opposition and boost the home team.
7) Money management is the most important thing - it's an incredibly long season. You won't be able to profit from it if you are broke by January. Because there are so many games, and so many variables, you are going to go through some rough patches along the way. Make sure that you have the resources available to weather any storm.
8) It's about the guards - Guard play is very important, and that is even more true early in the season. It's not an exaggeration to say that the team with better guards will win most times against a team that's weak in the backcourt. Knowing the teams that can control the ball well will make you money.
9) Look for height mismatches - With so many schools out there, and so many players, it is fairly common to see a game where one team is significantly taller top to bottom than their opponents. Size is obviously a huge advantage, so a tall team can create an edge, and an opportunity.
10) Check the numbers as soon as they are released - There are so many games every weekend that need a spread set for them that mistakes, or at least mistakes in your eyes, can occasionally be found. If you look at the lines early you may be able to profit from a line before it gets adjusted or it corrects itself. This is especially true with totals. You can often find a total that is completely out of whack - like a huge total for a defensive powerhouse.
11) Look beyond the TV games - It's sometimes hard to believe, but there are more than 20 teams out there. You only get to see that many teams regularly on TV, but they may not be your best bet. Those games will obviously get more betting action, so the lines will probably be more accurate, and the opportunities may be fewer. The real betting value can often be found by looking at the games that other people aren't looking at. You won't be able to follow your bet on TV, but you probably won't mind when you are cashing a winning ticket.