College Basketball Betting Advice: Handicapping Early-Season Tournaments
This is a highly underrated week of the college basketball season. Many teams head off to play in tournaments. Some are in traditional markets, and others really aren't. Some have deep fields and power matchups, and others just don't. But we get to see teams play a lot in a short time, so we really get a sense of where they are. And these tournaments can create a whole lot of opportunities for bettors who are paying attention. To maximize your chances of success when betting on these tournaments, here are six factors to keep in mind as you make your picks:
What they are, not what they could or should be: This is always such a challenge when it comes to handicapping college basketball early in the season. We have all summer and fall to think about what teams could be and how good they could look. And then we can think about what those teams could be once they iron out the kinks and play to their potential. What we can easily miss, though, is that teams often aren't as good now as they could or should be down the road. If we are betting on potential or expectations instead of reality, then we can get into real trouble. The obvious example right now is Kentucky. They have all the potential in the world on paper, and their number on ranking proved that. But by losing to Evansville, they showed that they aren't yet firing on all cylinders yet. They may or may not do so later, but what happens later doesn't help us now.
Have they been tested?: Kentucky and Michigan state are two high-profile programs that have played absolutely brutal schedules so far. They have very much been tested, so we have a sense of where they are at, and we can judge them accordingly. Other teams, though, have yet to face real adversity. They have had a cupcake schedule, and we don't really know what they are. One approach isn't better than the other. It is just that we need to understand what a team has faced and not just what their record or stats are. Context matters.
Can they handle it?: Teams can play three or four games in as many days depending on the tournament. That's a lot to ask of any team at any point - never mind at the start of the season. That can really be a problem for teams that aren't ready for such a big test. If teams are young, inexperienced, facing injuries, dealing with a coaching change, or otherwise not at their best, then they could really struggle. But if the core has been through this before and looked good, then they could be just fine. The ability to deal with adversity is among the biggest factors in these tournaments - especially later on.
Shifting styles: The neat thing about these tournaments is that teams can face very different teams 24 hours apart and not really have enough time to fully prepare for them. Usually, teams have a week, or at least a few days, between games, so they have a chance to prepare, practice any changes, and get ready. Now they have to focus on recovering and reloading. Some teams are adaptable and can play different ways in different situations. If they have the depth to shift up personnel as needed. Other squads have one type of personnel in bulk, and play a one-dimensional style as a result of that, so when they face a different type of team they are in trouble. And some coaches are much better than others at adjusting and adapting - playing the situation instead of a system. To thrive in these tournaments, you have to embrace the format, and teams that don't won't reach their potential.
Fan factor?: Some of these tournaments are played in front of good crowds. Others are played in empty gyms. Some are in locations that fans are happy to travel to, so loyal fans will be in the stands. Others aren't. Some schools travel very well. Others struggle to get their fans to come to their own gym, never mind to travel somewhere else. When two teams are reasonably well matched, the fan support could be the deciding factor. Doing a little homework when it comes to what the crowd could be can really pay off.
Does the public care?: Some tournaments can create matchups that break through all the noise and draw the imagination - and the betting attention - of the betting public. Many aren't that way, though. College football is getting into the heart of the season. The NFL is heading into the stretch drive. The NBA is firing up. The NHL is rolling. College basketball in November falls well down the ladder of betting interest. If a game is going to draw a lot of public attention that will have a much different impact on the way lines are set and how they move than if it doesn't.
Doc's Sports college basketball handicapping team has set some lofty standards worldwide for college basketball handicapping. They normally do their best work at the beginning of the season. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . No credit card needed, and you will never deal with a salesman. Also, find out more about Doc's Sports expert handicappers college basketball results here . Get daily free college basketball picks on Doc's Sports NCAA hoops predictions page.
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