College Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Conference Tournament Wagering
We are, as I write this, about to head into two weeks of very exciting college basketball conference tournament action, which sets the table for March Madness. The conference tournaments can provide rich and varied betting opportunities for those who are paying attention. Betting these tournaments is, though, quite different than both the regular season and the NCAA Tournament that follows. By understanding five of those biggest differences - along with one unique difference that is relevant to this year like never before - you give yourself the best possible chance of coming out ahead.
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Health: It has been a very long season by the time conference tournaments roll around - teams have been playing since November, and the games have only gotten tougher and more intense through conference play. Very few players are completely healthy at this point, and a lot of teams are dealing with limited players or injuries that have caused absences. The health of a team is always a concern for bettors, but it's especially so when, depending upon the size of a conference and how a team is seeded, a squad might have to play as many as five games in five days. If a team is hurting going into a tournament then they might not be up to a big run - even if on paper they are a talented and well-situated squad.
Desperation: Some teams come into conference tournaments absolutely desperate for success. The winner of the tournament gets into the NCAA Tournament field, so teams with no other way in, and a feeling that they belong, could be particularly hungry. And teams that are sitting on or near the tournament bubble know that a strong tournament performance can be all the difference - and vice versa. Desperation can give a team wings. Or, if you don't trust a team's mental strength, the desperation can create pressure that is too much to deal with.
On the other hand, a team with serious NCAA Tournament ambitions and a very secure spot in that field may not be particularly driven to shine in the conference tournament. They won't intentionally lose, but they'll know that playing two games in a conference tournament and then getting some rest could be more attractive than playing four or five and then facing a short turnaround for tired legs to recover before the next tournament. Certainly not all teams will see things this way, but some coaches and squad certainly do.
Trying to sweep: Part of handicapping successfully is being able to separate the useful angles and facts from the distractions and wives' tales. One such situation has to do with teams that have won two games against an opponent already this season and are looking to complete a sweep in the conference tournament. Common wisdom tells us that sweeping is really tough to do, so the underdog will have an edge. There is just one problem - it's not true. The team with two wins already actually have a small edge in these situations but not enough of one to provide profits betting on or against either team over the long term.
Location: It should go without saying, but the location of a tournament can be an advantage or a disadvantage for teams because of things like the ease of travel and the number of fans that will attend games. Sometimes teams even get to play at home, which is an obvious advantage. The location of a game can be a difference-maker when you are otherwise struggling to give one team or another the edge.
Pacing yourself: If you can find real value betting on a conference tournament game then by all means you should jump all over it. But the bigger prize is still ahead - for both players and bettors. In the NCAA Tournament we know that teams will do whatever it takes to try to win - they won't hold anything back. Things can be more complicated than that in conference tournaments. You absolutely should not try to force anything when it comes to betting on conference tournaments - brighter days are ahead.
The Feds: Here's something we have never had to worry about heading into past conference tournaments - the FBI. We already know that Arizona is in a world of trouble and that they could quite possibly be without their coach throughout the postseason. And they are far from alone and many high-profile teams and players have been implicated - or soon could be - in a wide-ranging investigation of recruiting improprieties. We could see other coaches or players suddenly becoming unavailable, and even if the roster and staff is intact there are many teams that will be distracted by what could happen and what it could mean for teams and careers. We need to spend some time when handicapping each game to get a sense of what role the investigation could play.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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