Sports

Don’t rush to bet college hoops now that the Super Bowl is over

Now that the football season is officially over, sports bettors will devote much of their winter focus to basketball. College hoops will be front and center from now through March Madness. Pro basketball becomes more popular with casual fans when the playoffs begin in April, when the best teams will be playing and no superstars will be taking rest breaks.

Are you ready to bet college basketball? If you even have to think about the answer, you’re not! This is not a sport you can just jump into cold turkey in February and expect to beat. Markets are now very well-informed because teams have played more than 20 regular-season games, and are halfway through their conference round-robins.

Your best strategy for slowly getting into the flow of the remaining season is to focus on the teams or conferences you know best. Even if you haven’t been betting, you’ve probably watched some high-profile TV games or monitored your alma mater. Don’t peruse the huge overall schedule and bet a half-dozen hunches. Get caught up with how the market sees your teams of interest, and then emphasize potential changes in form.

  • Maybe a team you follow finally has started putting the pieces together, while the market is still pricing it as a non-factor. Review the past few box scores to make sure that improvement is real, then make some conservative bets that it will continue.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, maybe a team you follow recently hit a wall, or is imploding because of bad chemistry. This is common in college basketball, particularly in February. Players who can’t stand each other or their coach knows nothing really matters until the conference tournament arrives in a few weeks. Slumping, unmotivated teams sink faster than the market accounts for (it takes awhile for math influences to catch “down” to a new reality).

While you’re getting your feet wet with conservative betting (or “passing” entirely while you get up to speed), you can focus your energies on learning the important skill sets of relevant teams. Defense, rebounding, shot selection, ball movement and having a variety of scoring threats are among factors that have the most impact on which teams win and cover games.

Where do you find information on those categories? You can do a web search on a conference-by-conference basis for your local leagues. The website teamrankings.com posts stats in a stunning variety of college basketball categories. You’ve probably heard of Ken Pomeroy’s respected site kenpom.com. An inexpensive $19.95 month subscription (12 months) provides access to a treasure trove of data if you love stats.

If you’re not a stat-head, watch your teams or conferences of interest more intently with an eye on key skill sets. You’ll be amazed at what you learn when you’re not just rooting for a bet to win. When better informed, you’ll have even more fun watching winning bets!

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