College basketball is a great game to bet on. There are an incredible number of games to choose from, information is plentiful and easy to find, and lines – particularly early in the season – are considerably softer than in major pro sports. College basketball doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves before February or March, and that means that bettors are missing out. If you don’t bet the sport regularly outside of tournament time then you really should take a look at it. If you do, here are six common mistakes that college basketball bettors make that you will want to avoid:
Betting by reputation – There are basketball teams that have dominated college basketball for decades. A few coaches are viewed to be the true elite of their field. Some players get far more media attention and praise than most. It can be easy for casual handicappers to be swayed by these reputations into thinking that these teams can’t lose – especially against teams with lesser reputations. Banking on reputations is a quick way to go broke, though. What a college team, player or coach has done in the past has absolutely no bearing on what they will do in this game. It’s not like the opponent is going to note the impressive reputation and take the game off as a result. Simply put, if you are factoring in reputation at all when you are making your picks then you are making bad picks.
Ignoring tempo – The biggest thing that people aren’t as aware of when they should be when they start betting college basketball is how much tempo can change in a game, and how much of an impact it can have on how a game turns out. Teams play widely varied styles in college basketball, and that means that the number of points scored by a team can fall within a wide range – a total in the 40s is as common as one in the 90s, and everything in between is fair game. When you are looking at a matchup, then, it is crucial that you look at the tempo that a team prefers to play. If both teams play very different tempos typically then you need to come to a conclusion about which team is likely to assert their tempo and control the game. It doesn’t matter if a team has an explosive, high tempo offense if their opponent’s smothering defense and slow game play is going to render that offense totally ineffective.
Discounting location – Home court advantage really matters in college basketball. You can have the powerful combination of very rowdy crowds and relatively inexperienced referees that can have a big impact on how games are called and how they turn out. You need to be very aware of where games are being played and what impact that is going to have. You also need to be aware of when games are played on neutral courts, because those are very common in the college game. Is it a true neutral court, or does the location still give one team a clear advantage over the other?
Ignoring the moneyline – When most people come to college basketball they are conditioned to think of it as a point spread sport. By just focusing there, though, you can be missing out on some tremendous opportunities. If, for example, you are very confident that am mild underdog is going to come out on top then by betting on the moneyline you are giving yourself a shot at a much better potential payoff than you would be betting the point spread. You are giving up the security of a few points, but if you don’t expect those points to be a factor anyway then the risk could be worthwhile. Similarly, if you like a slight favorite but you think that the game will be close then betting the moneyline could give you a bit more security than the point spread because it gives you more points on your side, and that might justify the price increase.
Betting too often – With more than 300 teams in Division I alone, and with most playing twice per week, there is an incredible number of games to choose from every week. When faced with that embarrassment of choices a lot of bettors act like a fat man at a buffet – piling as many games onto their plate as they can possibly fit. That’s not a good investment for most bettors. If you are betting too many games then you are not putting the time and effort you should into handicapping each, and you are likely accepting situations with less value than you ideally should be. Instead of betting as many games as you possibly can, you need to find ways to quickly identify the few games that have the most potential for you. From there you can narrow it down to the games that are just packed with value. With as much choice as you have in college basketball there is no reason at all to accept anything other than a high value, play that you are very confident in.
Betting with your heart – Being a fan is what draws most people to college sports. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your school win and your hated rival lose – especially if it happens in the same game. Being a fan has no place in the sports betting decision making process, though. If you are being anything less than totally objective as a college basketball handicapper then you are not making decisions that are optimal and you are hurting your bottom line. If you can’t be objective when handicapping the teams you love or hate then you shouldn’t handicap those games at all.