For savvy sports betting fans, the tip-off of the college basketball betting season offers almost unlimited opportunity, six months where action is more plentiful than in any other game and shrewd bet makers sometimes can gain an edge over even the most experienced of bet takers.
There are six factors which are crucial to NCAA basketball betting success:
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Teeming With Teams
There are about 350 schools playing basketball that are deemed worthy of point spread consideration, a number so vast that even the most accomplished oddsmaker can't be expected to post an accurate number on every game. Even obscure teams such as the Presbyterian Blue Hose, the Radford Highlanders, the High Point Panthers, the Kennesaw State Owls and the Lipscomb Bisons were on the board at least once last season.
Having to hang odds on so many games puts great pressure on sportsbooks, leading to gamblers winding up with many more options. For college basketball betting aficionados, it's a lot easier to find a bad number among 100 games than it is to find one among 15 NFL games.
Being at home is an advantage in any sport but college basketball betting is impacted more by the home advantage than any other sport.
Taking a look at some historic examples, when Wisconsin played Big Ten rival Ohio State in Madison, on Dec. 31, 2010, the Badgers closed as a 5 1/2-point favorite on the NCAAB odds. Dribble up to Jan. 16, 2011, when the tables were turned and Wisconsin was on the road in Columbus. This time, the Buckeyes closed as 6-point favorites, a swing of 11 1/2 points in just over two weeks' time.
Louisville and Big East foe Connecticut first met last season on the Cardinals' home court on Feb. 1 with Louisville closing as a 7-point favorite. But when the same two teams faced off in Storrs, Connecticut, Feb. 28, the Huskies were favored by 3 1/2 points, another double-digit (10 1/2 points) swing in the point spread.
Next, head to the SEC where Kentucky closed as a 19 1/2-point favorite over Georgia when the teams met in Lexington, Jan. 9, 2011. The Wildcats and Bulldogs then hooked up in Athens, March 3, 2011, with Kentucky listed as just a 7 1/2-point betting choice, a move of 12 1/2 points.
Finally, look at the basketball rich ACC where Clemson was a 12-point underdog to Duke in Durham, Jan. 3, 2011 but was just +2 when the Tigers and Blue Devils met in Clemson, Jan. 23, 2011.
Shrewd college basketball betting devotees understand that a highly partisan contingent of chanting, sign-waving, occasionally abusive student seat-holders sometimes can rattle a visiting team of impressionable teenagers and that double-digit swings in home-and-home series point spreads are not uncommon.
While a lack of motivation can be a factor in most professional sports, that's almost never the case in college basketball where a shorter schedule and more heated rivalries, particularly within conferences or states, all but guarantees that motivation will be anything but lacking. For that reason, assessing a team's motivation can be a crucial factor.
Another factor critical to college basketball is revenge. A team that lost to an opponent once often is troublesome to tame the second time around. This is a scenario that plays itself out in conference play, where splits, especially against the spread, are more common than sweeps.
There was a time when freshmen had to wait a year to join the varsity and it wasn't all that long ago when freshmen sat at the end of the bench and waited until the end of the game to get some “garbage time.” Not any more. Nowadays, if you're good enough to play, coaches put you in the game.
Freshmen now are major contributors, requiring both sportsbooks and college basketball betting fans to monitor the careers of high school seniors, assessing the impact they will have on the colleges they choose to attend. According to most national recruiting assessments, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Arizona, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Ohio State, Baylor and Syracuse are among the teams with freshmen who could have an immediate impact on their teams this season.
Since no sport is more affected by a single player than basketball, every new addition–freshman, junior college or transfer–has the opportunity to alter the dynamic of the team.
College basketball isn't so much a season as three seasons in one, a complicating factor that must be considered by sports betting advocates.
The first part of the season extends from the opening tip-off to the end of the year when teams play most of their non-conference games. For many, this is a chance for experimentation with different lineups and strategies, a time of growing pains that often are reflected by the point spread. Other teams, ones with experienced players, have an obvious advantage in cohesiveness. After all, basketball is a team sport.
The middle part of the season begins with the start of conference play, which usually begins in late December or January. Teams have worked out the kinks by now and, for the most part, are ready to face a series of opponents with whom they have some familiarity. The teams may play each other as many as two or three times each season–twice in conference play and perhaps again in the league's tournament–and coaches know each other and their preferred style of play. There are few surprises and, except for those occasions when the very best teams are playing the very worst teams, close games are common.
For the best teams, there is a third and final part to the season: The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, in March. It is the unpredictable nature of the “Big Dance,” the convergence of teams that have as much in common as Bob Knight and a necktie, which makes “March Madness” the oddsmaking and betting challenge that it is.
Those are six keys to college basketball betting success.