College Basketball Totals Betting: It's All About Pace
by Aaron Smith - 2/26/2010
In the world of college basketball betting, there is a little bit less public information to go off of than there is in the NBA. In pro basketball, we can review referee trends and see which referees will be calling each game, but in college basketball we don’t know who will comprise the referee crew before tipoff. While this may worry you, and make you feel as if college basketball totals are more difficult to beat. However, many find that this is not true at all.
The oddsmakers definitely pay less attention to college basketball games than they do NBA, because there is not as much money bet on college basketball. This gives you an opportunity to take advantage of soft lines in the college basketball totals world, especially in games that are matchups between two lesser known teams. Since we can’t know all the information before game time, it is essential that a bettor use the most important information at their disposal; which is definitely the pace of both teams. The pace, or tempo, of the game is certainly the best way to handicap college basketball totals.
It can be very difficult to project how well two teams will shoot the ball in any given game. This makes projecting the tempo that the game will be played at much more important. Since college basketball teams may shoot 55 percent one night and then 30 percent two nights later, you are playing with fire if you count on either great or poor shooting percentages. On the other hand, if you take a look at the number of possessions each team will likely get per game you are then looking at some valuable information. It really is amazing how different teams within one conference can be when it comes to possessions per game. For example, Providence averages 74.3 possessions per game, while Pittsburgh averages just 62.5 possessions per game. Clearly, these two teams have different outlooks on how to win basketball games. The Friars wish to run and push the tempo, while the Panthers want to slow the game down and play solid defense. The trick in betting on college basketball totals is to try to find games where the oddsmakers appear to have not calculated the number right based on how quick or how slow the game will be played.
Examples are always helpful in sports betting; so let’s take a look at a couple, which prove the importance of pace for college basketball totals.
- The game between Air Force and Utah on Feb. 24 finished with a score of 54-43. The game went ‘under’ the posted total by 20.5 points. If you look at the box score, you’ll see that Utah shot 50 percent from the field and Air Force shot 42 percent, so the shooting really wasn’t that bad. On the other hand, there were just 79 shots taken the entire game, which is certainly lower than average. This was a perfect case of the tempo dictating a solid play on the ‘under’.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Jan. 30, game between Southeast Missouri State and Tennessee Tech went ‘over’ the posted total of 147 by three points solely because of the pace of the game. The final score of 82-68 was achieved despite shooting percentages of 38 percent and 43 percent from the two teams.
There are several things to take away from these numbers. First of all, when two teams that both like to push the ball get together, or two teams that like to stall get together, the extremes can be dramatic. Also, teams who tend to stall and shoot a great deal of three-point shots often don’t get to the free throw line too much, which cuts down on their scoring potential by a large amount. Keep in mind that typically the soft lines will be on games between teams that aren’t well-known, not a game between two college basketball powers. Betting on college basketball totals is a way for bettors to beat the books, but you have to understand that at the end of the day the tempo of the game is the single biggest key!
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