In NCAA basketball, everybody loves an upset – the kind when a scary Goliath is knocked down to size by the most unlikely of Davids. It’s exciting to watch, and it’s especially exciting because we often don’t know they are going to happen until they have happened. These upsets are particularly common in college basketball because the top teams play several games a year against teams that should be badly outmatched, so there are plenty of opportunities for a shocker. Spotting those massive upsets can be very tough for bettors to do. What can be easier, though, is figuring out how to deal with the team that pulled off the upset in their next game or two. There can be opportunities there, but college basketball handicappers have to have a sense of how the team is going to react to the upset. Here are six questions sports bettors can ask to get a sense of how a college basketball team might respond.
How did it happen? – To understand how a college team might bounce back after pulling off a massive upset you first have to look at how the upset happened in the first place. If the team that pulled off the victory because of intense hard work and strong game planning then there is a good chance that they will gain confidence from the win and build on it. On the other hand, if the win can only really be called a fluke – a bunch of circumstances that worked out perfectly and aren’t likely to occur again then there might not be as many positives for a team to take from the win.
Was it really as much of an upset as it is being perceived? – Sometimes the media will talk about a basketball game as if it was a major upset because that makes for the best story even though the truth is something different. Perhaps the underdog that got the win is a very talented team that doesn’t get the recognition they deserve because they play in a smaller conference or outside of a major media market. Or maybe the favorites came into the game at less than their best – fighting injuries, tired from a grueling schedule, looking forward to the next game, or so on. Or maybe the underdog presented matchup issues that the favorite couldn’t overcome. If a game isn’t really the upset it was perceived to be then the underdog isn’t going to be as affected by the win as they might otherwise be.
What about the coach? – A lot of how a college hoop team responds in a situation like this depends upon how well the coach handles the situation. Has the coach been in a situation like this before. Has he been coaching for a long time, or is he reasonably inexperienced? Does he tend to run a tight, disciplined team, or can emotion be a problem for the squad? Does his team play as well against bad opponents as they do against strong ones?
How has team done following underdog wins in the past? – This may be the biggest win the team has had in a long time, but you can still learn a lot from how they have done in the past after upsets. The easiest way is to look at their performance against the spread in recent years. After every time a team has won as underdogs of 10 points or more how have they come back next time? Is there a trend there? These questions are important to the serious NCAA basketball bettor.
Does the team have experience in the spotlight? – If a basketball team pulls off a major upset – like upsetting a top five team on the road, for example – then for at least a little while they are going to be in the spotlight. The media will be talking about the win, and will be looking at the team closer than they normally do. Coaches and players that are never interviewed will suddenly be in demand. None of that stuff is a big deal if players or coaches have been through it before. The first time they are facing it, though, it can be overwhelming.
Who do they play next? – As smart college basketball handicappers know, the schedule can have a lot to do with the bounce back. If they have to follow up their statement win by playing another top level team then they might be too tired – physically and emotionally – to respond at the level they would need to another time. If they play a weaker team, though, then the confidence and momentum from the big win could carry over and make them very hard to beat. The location of the next basketball game could also be significant. If the upset was pulled off on the road – which is likely – then the next home game could be a particular boost because the crowd will be energetic in welcoming home their conquering heroes.