In a lot of ways college basketball and the NBA are the same thing – they are both basketball, the basic rules are the same, and most of the players in the NBA come form college. From a betting perspective, though, the difference between the two types of basketball are massive. In a lot of ways it’s as if they are two different sports form a betting perspective. Bettors who think that they can take what works in the NBA and succeed right away betting on college – or vice versa – are in for a rude awakening. Here are five of the ways in which betting on the NBA and betting on college basketball are different:
Number of games – Teams in the NBA play almost three times as many games as college teams – and that doesn’t include the playoffs. On one hand, that means that games in college are each more individually important to the teams than they are in the NBA – there isn’t nearly as much margin for error in college than in the NBA. A single loss in college can have a big impact on rankings, seeding, and so on, while no loss in the NBA matters nearly as much. That means that motivation has to be considered much more in the NBA because the effort levels are much more varied from game to game in that league than in college. Also, the number of games in the NBA has a significant impact on the bodies and minds of the players. The season is a real grind, and it can wear down even well prepared players. The college season extracts a physical toll, too, but the season is shorter, the games are far more spaced out, and the players are younger, so you don’t need to be as concerned about the physical state of players in college as you do in the NBA.
Narrower talent gaps – Even the worst players in the NBA were stars on their college or European team. There are still significant gaps in talent between the best teams in the league and the worst, but even the worst team has the talent and capability to win any given game if they play well and things go their way. That’s not the case in college. There are games that a team like Duke just isn’t going to lose to unless something goes very, very wrong – in both non-conference and conference play. You have to look for value in very different ways when you know with near certainty who is going to win a game – and the odds are set accordingly – than you do when even the worst team has a realistic shot at an upset.
Fewer differences in playing styles – In college you can see some very bizarre matchup challenges present themselves – games in which the styles between teams couldn’t be more different. To make up for differences in talent levels coaches often have to resort to unique offensive or defensive schemes to be able to compete. In college you’ll see teams that play ridiculously fast, and others that play painfully slow. There are teams that use a full court press regularly, and others that never use. Teams that shoot threes relentlessly, and others that never do. As a result of the wide range of approaches a big part of college handicapping is figuring out how the teams differ and which team is likely to be able to set the tone and control the tempo. There are differences in playing style, too – Mike D’Antoni moves the ball far more aggressively than a lot of coaches, for example – but the range of differences is far narrower, and you don’t need to be nearly as worried about what the game will look like.
Longer games – It doesn’t immediately seem like the difference in game length – just eight minutes – is significant. The more you look at it, though, the more you realize it really is. Eight minutes is 20 percent of a college game, so it adds a whole lot ore playing time relatively. That means that totals are much higher, benches need to be deeper, stamina is more of an issue, and so on.
Past performance more significant – In college teams play twice per year at most, and just one of those games will be a home game. Each year the rosters of each team change significantly due to the draft and graduations. By the time teams have played enough games against each other to assemble a useful sample size, then, the roster is entirely new. In the NBA teams play each other more often each year – especially divisional rivals – and the rosters are far more stable, so we can learn a lot more from how teams have performed against each other in the past.