College basketball is really heating up this week as many successful teams will go head-to-head. TV Networks know how to grab the attention of sports fans once football winds down!
If you’re just now starting to pay attention to college basketball, it’s important for you to get up to speed on what’s been happening so far. I suggest you peruse the team rankings to find out the surprise success stories and the surprise failures. You should also study the standings page to see who the best and worst teams have been against the spread. Do that to evaluate the market, because you want to know where oddsmakers have been having troubles. Don’t just notice that Virginia has been good against the number. Try to determine WHY the market is underpricing the Cavaliers by so much for the second season in a row (to this point anyway).
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College Basketball PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS
This is always job one when handicapping sports. You want to know which teams have star performers who can help teams control their own destiny. These are the guys who are going to win bets for you. Evolution in college basketball has driven this point of influence away from the paint and toward the arc. You want to look for point guards who can shoot and dish…and long range shooters who can reliably make threes. Yes, there are still some big men who matter. It will be easy to find them because they’re a dying breed! (Conversely, recognize which teams don’t have ANY players of this ilk, and figure out how to fade them.)
Your homework in this regard is to study season-to-date stat performers for individuals. Most of you should be limiting yourself to one or two conferences because there’s no way to monitor 200 or 300 teams (particularly from a late start). Do an internet search for conference stats in your geographic area of interest. Or, maybe one local conference and your favorite TV conference.
College Basketball THE MOTIVATION FACTOR
This might be the single most important handicapping influence in the months of January and February. Many teams are on a constant yo-yo, bouncing from “letdown spot” to “bounce back spot” through the course of their schedules. Once the second part of the round-robin schedule kicks in, “revenge spots” will also come up.
Your homework in this regard is to go through the schedules for the teams you’ll be studying, and try to isolate right now where the highest priority games are going to be on the schedule. In the ACC, everyone’s going to get up for Duke! You may want to fade those teams just before Duke (Syracuse had an awful result this past Saturday in advance of tonight’s “Big Monday” TV game), and you’ll definitely want to fade them the next time out if they give Duke a battle (or upset them).
College Basketball Moving forward, study the schedules to find peak or valley performances that will likely cause reversals. Most teams fall flat off fantastic shooting performances. Most teams get things back together after horrible shooting performances. Be sure you’re reading box scores and studying shot stats.
Successful college basketball handicapping is very much linked to our two key factors. Your best bets will often involve teams in a bounce-back spot led by a PLAYMAKER who’s going to have a huge game….particularly when fading an opponent in a flat spot that lacks dynamic talent. Your best upset calls will involve fading flat favorites with underdogs that have a superstar talent.
We’ll talk plenty of college hoops from now through March. It will take several different lectures to cover all of the angles. One point of emphasis for right now…be aware that offenses seem to be getting much worse over time. Or, better put, defenses are getting smarter about how to disrupt offenses. Whatever conferences you’re focusing on, you’ll be handicapping some ugly games. Review earlier results to see which teams really struggle in this environment. Defense only gets more intense in the heart of conference action. Legs start to get tired too.
I’m already hearing a lot of grumbling in sports books about how awful many of these games are to watch. Part of that is because the Pac 12 is horrible, and that’s the closest major conference to Las Vegas. But, even the Big 12 is ugly this season. The Big 10 has always been ugly. YOU need to think about which teams are most likely to thrive or fail in slow, defensive basketball.
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