by Simon Noble - 03/22/2006
With big busts and Georgetown, Bradley, Wichita State and George Mason delivering big upsets, we say goodbye to the reigning champs and all representatives from the Big Ten as the mid-majors march on in the NCAA Tournament.
As we move into the second week of the tourney with the Sweet 16 delivering a mix of perennial powers and Cinderella stories, I'd like to focus this week's Pulse on an often overlooked, but potentially highly lucrative area for savvy bettors - second half wagering.
One of the most important things in evaluating a second half spread is assessing what happened in the first half of the game and trying to interpret what affect it will have on the remainder of the game. Was one team remarkably cold or on fire in the first half? Are any key players in foul trouble or were there any injuries? Does the pace of the game or the way the referees are calling it favor one team more than another?
If you're looking to find an edge on a second half spread, then a good place to focus your attention are games that are lined to go through zero in the second half. A game can never fall zero and one point victories are the rarest of any of the single digit numbers in college basketball. Oddsmakers and bettors often underestimate the mathematical significance of this.
For example, if a team is down by 2 points and is favored to win the second half by 3.5 points, there is a good chance that there will be some value laying the points. However, if handicapping still leads you to a play on the underdog in this scenario, a wager on the dog on the moneyline would generally be a strong play. As a rule, the equivalent moneyline for a +3.5 (-105) underdog in this situation is around +139. Almost without fail you can expect to find +150 or higher as bettors drive the line up, underestimating the influence of the spread going through the zero.
Another area where you can also often find an advantage in College hoops are second half totals, which can be some of the most interesting wagers out there. Unlike the NBA where the second half total is usually close to the line on the first half of the game, second half totals in College basketball are on average almost 8 points higher than first half totals for the same game.
This is due to the shot clock and its affect on fouling late in the game, which leads to some interesting handicapping scenarios for the total. If a team is up by a lot at the half and you think they can maintain a big enough lead to avoid late fouling situations, the under can be a strong play. In addition, the chance of an under ruining overtime would also be lessened.
Another mathematical angle to consider with these 8 point differentials is that they aren't constant across all games. Match-ups that have a higher game total (above 145 for the full forty minutes) will have on average less than 8 extra points scored in the second half. Interestingly match-ups with a total below 130 for the full game will generally have more than 8 extra points scored on average during the second half. It all seems counterintuitive, but will hopefully help lead you to a better mathematical line than the market bears.
These are all factors to consider as well as ensuring that you always play at the best price available. As regular readers of this column will know, this is one of the easiest ways for any player to increase their potential winnings. Pinnacle Sports Book uses -105 style pricing on second half sides and totals which offers bettors up to 50% better value than other bookies.
At Pinnacle Sportsbetting you can even move the second half lines in your favor on all NBA and NCAA tournament games using our unique second half alternates. This is where we set up alternate lines for the second half where the spread is adjusted by a further 5 to 9 points depending on the closeness of the game.
While you consider these insider tips for wagering on the second half, you may want to consider how the players been betting the games themselves.
LSU (+6 -105) vs. Duke
Before the tourney, Duke's inexperience was highlighted as its biggest weakness, but it was the Blue Devils freshmen that powered the team to a 74-61 victory over George Washington in the second round with a 1-2 Redick, Williams punch.
Despite being unable to cover in its second round victory over Texas A&M, Louisiana State's ability to weather a defensive struggle should serve the Tigers well against Duke. LSU's big men will be looking to shut down the Blue Devils forwards in similar fashion as they limited the Aggies second-leading scorer and top rebounder Joseph Jones to just six points and four boards at the weekend.
Duke opened as a 5.5 point favorite and speculators quickly pushed the line up to 6.5. Sharp money came in buying to 7 which prevented the line from going higher. One syndicate quickly pushed the line out from 6.5 to 7.5 but this move was quickly rejected by the market and the line was driven back to 6. We expect to receive public money on Duke for the rest of the way until tip off with the sharps firing on LSU and probably overpowering the public money. We think the game is a toss up that could easily see LSU winning outright.
Gonzaga (+3.5 -108) vs. UCLA
The Zags proved they're much more than a one-man show Saturday in the second round of the tournament, defeating Indiana 90-80 even though Adam Morrison earned just 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting. With five other players booking double digits, Gonzaga didn't need the Player of the Year frontrunner, but they'll need him from here on out. No. 2 seed UCLA's tough defense doesn't give up cheap points and they will be trying to get back to the Final Four for the first time since their 1995 national championship.
We opened UCLA as a 4 point favorite and received immediate two way action at this number. Following a move by sharp money, the number was pushed down to 3 where the majority of the money seems to be coming in on UCLA. We anticipate that the line is likely to stay around 3.5 where we are now seeing sharp action on both sides in a heavy volume game.
George Mason (-2 -107) vs. Wichita State
The upstart Patriots knocked the defending National Champions and third-seeded Tar Heels out of the tournament with a 65-60 upset victory to set up this mid-major match-up in the Sweet Sixteen. Wichita State, the team who beat the Southeastern Conference's East division champions, already knew how good George Mason was. Before the Patriots knocked off two of last year's Final Four teams in the opening rounds, they beat the Shockers 70-67 last month as a 3.5 point underdog at Wichita State.
We opened the game with George Mason as a 1 point favorite and the line was bet down to a pick'em. Since then we have seen steady sharp money on the Patriots pushing the line back to -2 -107, as bettors expect George Mason playing close to home to overcome the Wichita State Shockers.