The closer we get to NCAA Tournament time, the more value there is for college basketball bettors in being able to spot good teams that are flying under the radar. When March Madness rolls around there are always teams that the betting public and the mainstream media don’t see coming – good teams that perform very well despite little attention. These hoop teams – whether mid-majors or low profile teams from major conferences – are always painted as Cinderella teams that have come from nowhere to perform miracles. The truth is, though, that these teams have been out there doing their thing all along – you have just had to know where and how to look for them.
Smart bettors know that February is really the time to be looking for these under the radar teams. If you can spot them well before anyone else will notice them then there is a real shot at getting some very good value from betting on them. Here are five ways for college basketball handicappers to spot those under the radar gems before anyone else does:
Strength of schedule – There is no single statistic that is more powerful for spotting under the radar NCAA basketball teams than strength of schedule. If teams finish the regular season with an under whelming record – something like 19-11, for example – then people aren’t going to pay a lot of attention to that team, and when they do they are going to assume that they aren’t great because their record is under whelming. If a team with a record like that has played one of the toughest schedules in the country, though, then they are probably much more impressive than their record seems, and if they had played an easier schedule they would have had a much more impressive record. Looking at the teams that played the toughest schedule in the country is almost sure to uncover a few college hoop teams that aren’t getting enough credit.
Teams destroying conference competition – The betting public doesn’t give much respect to conferences that fall outside of the spotlight. The major conferences and a few of the bigger mid-majors are paid attention to, but beyond that it’s easy for teams to be overlooked. If there is a particularly strong team that comes out of an anonymous conference then there is a very good chance at finding some great value. The most obvious indicator is if a basketball team goes through their conference schedule undefeated or with just a loss or two – hopefully on the road. In that case it’s clear that they are better than the rest of the conference, and therefore better than what people expect from that conference.
Teams with a key player recently added – It’s surprisingly common for a college team to add a valuable player to their roster well into January or February. It could be because a number of reasons – an injury or suspension, or a player who transferred to the school or was previously ineligible for some reason. It could even be a young player who is playing serious minutes now after hardly playing at all at the start of the season. Whatever the reason, what is clear is that the team that amassed the majority of the season’s record isn’t the same as the team now, and probably wasn’t as good as they are now. The betting public won’t look like a subtlety like this, so it can be easy to see a team that is better than their record.
Teams that raise their game against top opponents – Some teams are really talented but need outside motivation to play up to their best. They may look pretty unimpressive playing against bad teams or even the average teams in their conference, but when the stakes are high they really shine. Teams that have big wins over ranked teams – especially on the road – are dangerous once March rolls around and all the games become big ones. Teams that tend to cover the spread against good teams but don’t do so as consistently against lesser teams are also worth a closer look.
Savvy coaches – Coaching is very important in college basketball, and that’s especially true in March. Teams face immense pressure, and they will be asked to do things that they have never done before. Some teams handle that pressure well, while others really don’t. What determines how they handle that is, as much as anything, what kind of leadership they get from their coach. A coach who has played big games in March before and has a history of having teams ready to play and excel is one to really take a look at. On the flip side, if a coach has consistently failed to impress in March then it’s probably not a great bet that he will break through this year.This is something that every college basketball handicapper should be aware of.