Casual sports bettors will often make the mistake of thinking that betting on basketball is betting on basketball – regardless of whether it is college basketball or the NBA. After all, in both sports you have to put a ball through a net after dribbling it on some hardwood. Those with a bit more sophistication, though, know that betting on the two sports is so different that’s it’s almost as if they are different sports. One area where the differences are pronounced is in betting totals. Here are four ways in which betting NBA totals and betting college basketball totals differ:
Number of points per game – The NBA obviously features more points per game than the college game does. There are a couple of obvious reasons for that – the college game is eight minutes shorter than the NBA, and the college shot clock is 11 seconds longer than the NBA one, so the pace of play can be slower. The result is that totals are much bigger in the NBA than in college – NBA totals of over 200 are common, while college totals are regularly under 140, and often much, much lower. Because college totals are so much lower each point is more significant – one point is a significantly bigger percentage of the total score of the game than it is in the NBA. As a result, a total that is exceeded by seven points in college basketball has featured a more significant offensive outburst than an NBA game that has exceeded the total by the same amount. Because the two sports operate on different scales you have to mentally adjust your view of the sports accordingly as you shift back and forth between the two.
More under the radar changes in college than in NBA – When a major change happens to a team – a star player is injured, for example – it is widely known and discussed, and the impact is certainly factored into the posted total. Where an edge can often be gained when betting totals, though, is when the changes affect players who are off the public radar, but who nonetheless have a significant and predictable outcome on the performance of the team. If you can spot these changes while the public doesn’t then you can find a big – and profitable – edge. It can be much easier to find these under-appreciated changes in college than it is in the NBA. NBA teams are more scrutinized and more heavily reported on than college teams generally are, and this is especially true when you compare the coverage of an NBA team to that of a mid-major program without a significant national profile.
Styles of play vary more widely in college than NBA – In the NBA , teams are made up of elite athletes – most players were the best on their college team, and some were the best in their conference, or in all of college basketball. College basketball teams don’t have the luxury of playing elite athletes and highly skilled players at every position – there just aren’t enough players out there. That means that the skill levels of teams can vary widely. To cope with this coaches in college basketball are forced to be far more creative in coming up with different schemes and philosophies that maximize the assets they do have. That can lead to some very unique approaches to offense and defense. Because of the differences in styles – and the clashes that that can cause – it can be harder to determine what the tempo of play will be in college than in the NBA, and which team will set the tone and be able to impose their style. In cases where those styles are very different the result of the game could be dramatically different than expected if the tempo is opposite of what you expected.
College basketball totals have smaller limits than the NBA – Sports books set betting limits based on the amount of action they expect on a game, and the risk they are willing to take. Smaller limits in college mean that it takes less money – often much less – to move a total in college basketball than in the NBA. If the posted total moves significantly in a relatively obscure college game then you can be almost certain that smart money is hitting it hard. Smart money action can be more obscured in the NBA. As a result, total movement in college basketball is more significant, and more worthy of noting. Smaller limits also means that lines can move quickly, and that sports books will move their line quickly and often aggressively to limit their potential exposure. As such, the posted totals in college games often vary widely between books, so shopping for the best total, though always important for the sake of long term profitability, is especially crucial when betting on college basketball.