by Joseph Mattern - 11/16/2005
It's that time of year again. Yep, the leaves are falling off the trees, the weather is getting cooler, and college hoops is back!!! That means college basketball betting, but before you start, how about reading these top ten tips to improve (hopefully) your chances.
Top Ten Tips For College Basketball Betting1)Know what you are doing
Look, you're a grown-up, right? So act like one. You wouldn't purchase real estate without doing some research. Same with stocks. Same with betting, especially college basketball betting. Do your research. Get familiar with the types of bets available, odds, lines, etc. Watch the games, read the box scores, listen to the gurus, understand the nuances, trust your gut, go against your gut, trust someone else's gut, but most importantly, use your own judgment and never lose sight of the fact that it's your money on the line. Act accordingly.
2)Don't neglect underdogs
Hey, favorites are favorites for a reason, but there are plenty of situations where you can get a lot of value, in the form of points or odds, by wagering on the dog. What follows is a corollary to this rule.
3)Stay away from public favorites
This goes hand in hand with tip No. 2. The reason you don't want to cozy up to the public teams is because the "squares," or recreational bettors, are betting heavily on them, which often does a couple of things -- both bad for the bettor who wagers on the public favorite. First, the bookmakers "shade" the lines because they know the public will bet that side, and the second thing is the majority of bettors exacerbate this problem by moving the line even further out of whack. This can create some value for the bettor who takes the dog in the right situation.
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4)Do, however, show respect for home favorites
Home-court advantage is absolutely huge in college basketball betting, and just because a team is favored doesn't mean they aren't a good value, especially at home. The noise level and close proximity of the crowd, the court itself, and the travel factor contributes to a hostile environment for the visiting team and often translates to a substantial home-court advantage. Just ask Duke or Georgia Tech.
5)Go with what you know
Specialize in a conference and learn all you can about the teams in that conference. It doesn't matter which one you choose (although there is often value in smaller conferences), so you might just as well pick the one that your favorite team is in, or one that is local to your area. Read up on it in newspapers, magazines and the Internet, and go to a few games and watch a bunch on TV to really get a feel for the relative strengths and weaknesses of the teams in that conference. Specialize further with one particular team within that conference. Study the coaching tendencies. Is the team fundamentally sound? Are they aggressive on the glass? Do they play well as a unit? Things like that.
6)Pick your spots
The basketball season is a long one, and each team has a couple of games per week, which means that you will have plenty of opportunities to wager. Don't feel obligated to bet a bunch of games just because they are there. The object is to win money over the long-run, and the way to do that is to research and bet games that you think represent good value. That is different for everyone, but the point is to not make a bet just for the action. Look for good opportunities and exploit them. Sometimes that will mean betting only one game or no games at all for a given week. Part of the bettor's advantage lies in choosing when not to bet. Wait until you have the best of it.
7)Zero in on the smaller conferences
Look to the smaller conferences and lesser-known teams to provide good value. There are too many teams and they play too often for Vegas or the offshores to focus on every team, and that leads to an advantage for the knowledgeable bettor.
8)Pay attention to free throws
Most games are decided by free throws. Take a look at the free throw percentages of teams, of individual players likely to get the ball at the end of the game, and also take a look at the number of times a team goes to the line, and how often they send the other team there.
9)Defense wins championships - and wagers
Teams that are good defensively often provide a good value, especially against a public team with a superstar offensive player. Take a look at which teams play tough defense. You may be surprised at the results.
10) Last, but definitely not least - money management
Proper money management is the key to this whole thing. It's hard enough to win when you manage it properly, but it's almost impossible to get ahead when making stupid decisions with your money. A percentage-of-bankroll system makes a lot of sense because it automatically causes you to bet more when you're winning and less when you're losing. One to three percent of bankroll per wager is probably about right.
Here's a bonus tip: shop around for the best lines. It's not hard to do thanks to the Internet, and a point here and there can really add up.
Well, there's my two cents. Do with it what you will as you ride on this crazy train to March Madness, and good luck.