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Scouting The Small Conferences by Jeremy Martin
Smart players have known for years that there is good money to be made betting the small conferences. Teams like Michigan, Arizona and Connecticut receive plenty of attention in the press and it's not hard to find a wealth of information about these teams just about anywhere you look. But teams from smaller conferences like the Sun Belt or the Patriot League can be potential gold mines. Bookmakers do not have the time or resources to put into properly tracking these schools. Since they don't get a high-volume of action on these teams they often just take the number their consulting service gives them then move the line solely based on the action.
It is not hard to get information on these kinds of teams if you know where to look. There are great resources out there. One good strategy is to narrow your focus to a couple of conferences and exclusively bet on that group of teams for an entire season. If you know where to get good information on these teams and if you track them throughout a season, you should be able to get a good feeling on games after several weeks and should be able to spot obvious weaknesses in the numbers.
There is no better way to feel out strengths and weaknesses of teams in a conference than to actually bet on them. At the start, you probably will not be able to spot the bad numbers, so you should limit yourself to your minimum bet. Once you feel comfortable with the teams, raise the amount to your usual average bet. Once you feel you have mastered the conference, raise your bets accordingly when you know the number is off.
Finding good information on these small schools is not difficult, but it does take some time. For the most part, you are not going to be able to see these games on TV, so you have to get creative in your quest to track them.
One of the best sources of information on small schools is the hometown newspaper. In Small towns, university sports are huge, and most of the hometown papers will have good coverage of their local team. There are several types of stories you should look for. Recaps and game previews will let you know how that team performed the previous week and how they are shaping up for their next contests. Direct quotes from players and coaches can sometimes offer insight into their mindset before or after a game. Player features can help you learn about individual players and how they fit on that team. But the most important type of article for our purposes are editorials. Here you get a writer who follows the team for a living and knows them probably as good as anyone in that town. Follow pre game or post game editorials closely and you can often get an expert opinion of how good or bad a particular team is and how they may match up against opponents.
One great way to find these hometown papers is to use the Yahoo! main Web page. In the middle of the page there is a "Web Site Directory" that has a "newspapers" link under the "News & Media" section. This will allow you to search for newspapers by city and state. It takes just a couple of minutes and you can find great information on just about any school you could think of.
University newspapers can be another source of good information. Some college newspapers, however, are much better than others and you have to be good at judging the quality of the info. You have to know whether you are reading a story by a clueless freshman or whether you are getting the info from a sharp college writer who has followed the team for a couple of seasons.
Another great way to find out about a team is through their official athletic site. Just about every school in the nation that plays in Division I-A has a Web site. Some are, once again, much better than the others but many small schools put together excellent sites. One way to find the athletics sites is to simply type the name of the school and then the word "athletics" into a search engine like Yahoo! or Google. The first matching entry should be the site you are looking for.
One thing you have to be wary about with these official sites is that the information you are going to get is going to be slanted. These sites are part of the PR arm of the university's athletics department. If you are looking for information on suspensions or trying to find out if a coach is in danger of getting fired, this is the wrong place to look. But if you are looking for general information like stats, injuries, schedules and rosters, there is no better way to find a load of this info than the official site.
Some of the better sites have actual audio links that will allow you to listen to the game live on game day. Although this is not as good as being able to watch the game on TV, but it is the next best alternative in keeping up on the small conference team.
Message boards or posting forums are also a way to get information. Some of the better forums on the net can offer great up-to-the-minute information on injuries and they contain members who are die-hard fans of the team you are looking for information on. But sometime you have to be wary of the information you find here. Sometimes posters on these types of message boards write messages intended to spark controversy and some also like to spread false information. Once you read the forum a couple of times, you can usually separate the bad posters from the good.
Therefore, the scouting the small conferences are the way to go if you are interested in betting on college sports. If you become an expert in tracking a particular small conference, you can make plenty of money on college sports.
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