When betting on sports, the goal is to win more than you lose. And each sport has its own rules, stats, and is overall different. Football has yards, completions, and touchdowns. Basketball is a much quicker-paced sport and thus is different than football. And the NBA is different than college. So if you’re new or in a rut, here are a few tips and tricks to placing winning bets on college basketball.
1. Specialize in a conference or region
The NBA has only 30 teams, and the NFL has 32. It seems like a lot, but compared to college basketball, those leagues have a manageable amount of teams. However, there are many more college basketball teams. There are 347 Division 1 teams, and 68 of those teams are eligible for the NCAA Tournament (March Madness). March Madness only has DI Men’s basketball. There are also D2 teams, D3 teams, and women’s college teams.
Since there are so many teams, they’re split up into conferences and regions. There are 32 conferences for the D1 teams. So if you focus and narrow in on one or two conferences, you’ll become an expert on those schools.
For example, if you’re favorite team in the Big East conference, you could specialize on the Big East conference, which has only ten teams in the conference. Ten is more manageable than 347. Plus, following your favorite team will overlap with the other schools in the conference at times, making them easier to follow.
2. Be picky with your sources
Nationally known big sites like ESPN, CBS, or FOX are all corporations, and they focus on driving traffic. They also have staffs of writers who write their own predictions based on feelings. While one “analyst” think Baylor may win because they won the last game but doesn’t use any stats to back up their opinion, this shows that the piece was written more for views than because Baylor has better stats.
Always research your teams before placing wagers. With this in mind, try to ignore and avoid “gut feelings” from anyone (yourself included) because gambling is about stats. In cards, the best players know the odds of getting the Ace of spades and listen to that more than if they feel lucky. Sports are the same, if not harder. So always, always research your teams.
On the other side, be careful with local, smaller writers. They can have in-depth insights into the teams, but they can also be very inexperienced. It’s best to look a multiple sources before placing a final wager.
3. Small conferences can have big returns
Books will often have lines for major conferences and matches (especially for big rivals and big schools). From a betting view, this can be great because there will more information on the teams and match ups. However, this can also mean that the lines may not as great.
The majority of lines are set to have an even number of bettors on both sides so that the winners can be paid with the losers’ money. Small conference lines can have huge edges. However, the lines aren’t published every day, so they can be harder to find.
4. Popular teams don’t always win
This is related to the previous point. The most popular schools like Duke, UNC, Michigan State, and Kentucky are huge in college basketball! And normally they’re in the top 64 teams by March Madness time. However, betting on these schools can be tricky, especially at the beginning of the season. Lines are often inflated in favor of the most popular team because they go off previous years’ performances. Remember, it’s college. Each year, there’s an influx of new players who have yet to showcase what they can do and players who graduate or leave the team.
Also, lines can be skewed because of the new bettors who don’t any better. They may think “I’ve heard of this school before. They must be good, and I haven’t heard of the other school.” And then they place money on the school they’re more familiar with. But that’s an uneducated wager.
5. Consider home court advantage
Home court is an advantage in college basketball. The RPI (rate percentage index) ranks teams based on their strength of schedule, wins, and losses. Wins at home are only worth 0.6 of a win, and an away win is worth 1.4. Vice versa with losses. Losses at home are worth 1.4 of a loss, and a loss away is only worth 0.6.
When it comes to spreads, there’s disagreement among bookies on how much home court is an advantage. In the NFL, the home team typically gets 3 points. In college basketball, it can vary from 3 to 6 points. This means that the home team would get an automatic 3 to 6 points to the spread.
As the season goes on, home court advantage diminishes. It’s just ever so slight, but it is there.
6. Travel fatigue
There are so many basketball games. And these players are college students, meaning they also have class, homework, projects, and typical college things going on in their lives. They’re barely adults, and yet they travel the country to play. Sometimes, teams are given multiple road games in a row before playing at home.