Guys like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Derick Rose have done college basketball bettors a disservice. Those guys have shown what is possible when a ridiculously talented young player is given a leadership role on a team. They were very successful in their one year in college – especially Anthony – and then went on to shine in the pro game. Because of them and others the expectations are very high every year when the hyped, heavily recruited young college freshmen – the ones who are sure to be one-and-done – hit the field. The problem for bettors is that the expectations are so high with these players that it is particularly tough betting on these players and these teams. That means that sports bettors have to be particularly sure of our handicapping early on – before we have a good sense of what the players are actually capable of at the college level. It’s definitely an inexact science, but here are seven questions college basketball handicappers can ask to help them judge how the player measures up early on, and where the betting opportunities might be:
What are they actually doing? – This is the most important thing, and it gets more important as the NCAA basketball season progresses. You have to separate the reputation of the player from what they are actually doing in the current season. The sports betting public is very slow to adjust when a player isn’t meeting expectations, so if you can spot situations where the hype isn’t being met then you have your best shot at value.
What role is the coach giving them? – The betting public expects big name players to come in and be stars right away. Sometimes, though, the coaches intend to be far more patient than that to let the player grow into their potential. Before a sports bettor can assess how well a player is performing, then, they have to understand how the player is being used – how much playing time they are seeing, what position they are playing, and so on.
What has the coach done with youngsters in the past? – It takes a special type of college coach to deal with one-and-done players and the challenges they create for the team. Some coaches can handle it and do it repeatedly with success – like John Calipari. Other basketball coaches may be very good, but they aren’t mentally set up to handle those players, and they haven’t had the experience with doing so. The more experience on the side of the coach, the better.
Are they showing improvement? – No matter how good a player is it the beginning, it is crucial that hey continue to show improvement. As the season progresses the player will get more familiar with the pace of play and the caliber of the opponents, and will get to know their schemes and their teammates better. If a basketball player isn’t getting better then something is working against them, and there is a good chance that the value in betting against them will increase.
What’s the make-up of the team? – No matter how good a player is they can’t win by themselves. It can be too easy to expect miracles from a young player even though he isn’t in a situation that lends itself to success. Even with a stud college freshman playing well a team can struggle if the rest of the lineup is young, or if the talent level isn’t great, or if injuries are a big issue, or if the team lacks competence in a key position, and so on. .
Who has he played? – The college basketball schedule is a very important factor in maintaining perspective an getting a true sense of what is happening. A young player can be made to look better than he really is at the moment based on playing consistently weak opponents early in the season. He could look particularly weak on the other hand if the early schedule features tough opponents – like in a deep tournament, for example. It’s important that you are measuring not what the player has done against who he has faced, but what that means he is likely to do against the level of competition that is ahead of him.
Was the hype reasonable? – Before college basketball handicappers get too excited about a player they need to make sure that their hype is justified. Sometimes a player becomes a household name for reasons beyond what they can do on the court – even though he skipped college, Sebastian Telfair is a good example of that. By spending a bit of time looking at recruiting information and reports of his high school and AAU play college basketball bettors can get a sense of whether the hype is deserved, or if it’s just driven by the ultimate desire to sell shoes.