Expert College Basketball Betting Advice: How to Bet Early-Season Games
College basketball season is here. Finally. Starting Friday and stretching into April we will have an incredible number of games every week. I love it - as a fan and especially as a bettor. There are so many games where you can find betting opportunities no matter what you like. Big games? Check. Way, way off-the-radar conferences? Check. High-profile stars? Sure. Solid role players? Lots of them. The college basketball season is like one of those massive buffets in Vegas - it has everything anyone could want, and it doesn't matter if you want different things than most others.
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Betting college basketball out of the gate requires a few things for success, though. Here are six things to keep in mind when betting early college basketball games through the rest of November.
Experience: Experience matters in college basketball, but never more than in the first month of the season. An experienced team that knows how to play and how to work with each other can have a big advantage over a much more talented but less-experienced team. Freshmen who will be solid contributors by February can look overwhelmed and out of place in November. They have to adjust not only to the massive upgrade in class that is college basketball compared to high school or AAU but also to being in college. The advantage to bettors that pay attention to experience factors can be particularly significant in lesser conferences where the talent gap isn't as big and experience can be the defining difference in games - while not being so obvious that the general public notices.
Know vs. think: Heading into any college basketball season there are some things that we know and a whole lot more things that we think we know. These assumptions can shape our early betting decisions, and they are sharper and more effective the more work we have put into establishing them. Early games are all about testing our assumptions as quickly as we can. Were we right to doubt a high-profile team that didn't seem to have the pieces to live up to their ranking? Is the team that we thought to be an under-the-radar gem really ready for primetime? The faster we can gain actual data to back up our theories the better our handicapping will be.
Where's the game: Early in the season we see all sorts of gimmicky game locations - starting with a game at a German Air Force base on Friday. We see lots of neutral-site games and semi-meaningful nonconference matchups. It is very important when handicapping early games that we don't just assume that there is a home team and go from there. Home-court advantage is significant in college basketball, so you need to make sure that there actually is an advantage.
New coaches: There are all sorts of coaching changes made every year in college basketball - the coaching carousel spins very quickly. Sometimes those changes are an upgrade - like when a high-profile team fires a tired coach and brings in a hot new up and comer. Sometimes they are a real downgrade - like all the schools that lose those up and comers to schools higher up the ladder. Sometimes the changes aren't something that was planned, wanted, or helpful - Louisville, anyone? And most often the changes are really tough to assess until we see the teams in action. We need to be aware of coaching changes in games we are considering and we need to do our best to figure out what impact those changes will have.
Ignore the hype: There is all sorts of hype entering any college basketball season. This year that hype seems even more intense - a combination of the outstanding start by rookies in the NBA this year having a big impact on the excitement surrounding young prospects, and a strong class of potential one-and-done stars. Some of those guys will be worth the price of admission right out of the gate. The amount of hype I have heard about guys like Michael Porter Jr. and Mo Bamba, though, is almost impossible to live up to, and that will have the public very likely expecting too much from them early on.
Who's off the radar?: One of the best ways to make money in college basketball is knowing the low-profile teams that are better than people think they are. When they play a more public team they can often deliver some very nice value. Early on, then, a focus of our handicapping should be getting to know those teams that other less committed bettors don't know. The more you know the better you can do.
Doc's Sports Advisory Board has set some lofty standards worldwide for college basketball handicapping. They normally do their best work at the beginning of the season. Click here for $60 worth of free college basketball picks . No credit card needed, and you will never deal with a salesman. Also, find out more about Doc's Sports Advisory Board college basketball results here . And find out a loophole that Doc's Sports has exploited that the oddsmakers don't want you to know about by clicking here . Get daily free college basketball picks on Doc's Sports NCAA hoops predictions page .
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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