So you want to get into betting on college basketball? Before you do, there are a few things that you should know. College basketball isn’t like the NBA. The shot clock is longer, games are shorter, and the most important thing to remember is that the players you are watching on the court are not professionals. They’re more susceptible to bad nights or big upsets. But finding trends that work for you, like with any sport, isn’t too difficult as long as you do your research and focus your bets on the information you acquire. Where should that research begin? Below find three of the most trustworthy betting trends when it comes to college basketball.
Upsets by Mid-Majors
This seems like a no-brainer, but the thing to understand is that this doesn’t only apply to the NCAA Tournament. Upsets by mid-majors happen all season long. Of course, outlandish upsets such as Stephen F. Austin over Duke or Evansville over Kentucky aren’t common, but there’s a reason why Cinderellas appear throughout March. We all know the blue-blood teams, but what about teams like Dayton or San Diego State or Memphis? These are teams that are taking the college basketball world by storm in the 2019-2020 season, and they should continue to be taken seriously as they make their way through conference play. Granted, those three programs have been in the national spotlight at various points throughout their team histories, but, nevertheless, they are mid-majors and will likely be undervalued come tournament time. These are the teams that slip up once or twice during non-conference play or fall to a lackluster program from within their own conference and are quickly shooed away.
But when it comes to conference play, there are rivalries and other factors that exist that the general public doesn’t pay much attention to. Conference games always leave the door open for upsets, which is why mid-majors find themselves with lower seeding come NCAA Tournament time. So, while an upset may seem shocking in March, the fact is, that giant killer was probably a giant killer in the regular season, too.
A Major Conference will Take the Championship
The last time a team won the NCAA Tournament without being from one of the seven major conferences (AAC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac 12, SEC) was when the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels defeated the Duke Blue Devils by 30 in the 1989-90 title game. This means that if you’re considering placing future bets on teams to win the national championship, you should strictly be looking at teams from one of the major conferences. Some teams have been able to make it to the championship game from smaller conferences, but other than Memphis in 2008 and Butler in 2010, none of them have really been able to compete with the bigger conference teams in the final game of the year. It’s not as fun to place bets on major teams to win titles, but it is a lot more beneficial to your bank account.
However, there are ways to still win some money with high-odds teams from major conferences. Even if you’re not confident in them winning a title, there are plenty of props early in the year, such as making the tournament, making the Final Four, and numerous other tournament bets. 2019’s Texas Tech team is a great example of this, as they made the championship game after beginning the season unranked. And then there are teams that simply overachieve come tourney time. In 2013, the seventh-seeded UConn Huskies took down the eighth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the championship game. Picking an NCAA Tournament champion in the preseason is never easy, but picking a champion from a major conference is a great place to start.
Bad Teams Aren’t Always Bad Against the Spread
Every year, there are absolutely horrible teams in the NCAA, and while it may seem like easy money to bet against them, that’s normally not the case. As more and more college basketball games get Vegas odds due to the increase in the legalization of sports betting, we have a better sense than ever of how teams do ATS no matter what conference they play in. In 2018-2019, of the 10 worst SU teams in all of college basketball, only one of them finished in the bottom 10 in the NCAA ATS (Idaho: 6th SU and 10th ATS).
The 2019-2020 season is still progressing, but at the time of the writing of this article, only two of the worst 10 teams SU in the NCAA are actually in the bottom 10 ATS. That’s not to say that these teams are putting up great numbers ATS, but they’re not pushovers either. In 2018-2019, three of the 10 worst SU teams in the NCAA finished with winning records ATS, including Alabama A&M who finished 5-27 SU but 18-13 ATS. It can be easy to get sucked into how bad a team’s win/loss record is, but if you’re betting ATS, you need to look at much more than those totals.