College World Series is an interesting event in the sports betting world. Virtually no one pays attention to college baseball during the regular season, but when the teams head to Omaha, interest is piqued and suddenly betting interest arises. It is still not a top level event in terms of a money bet, but it isn’t irrelevant either. A big part of the reason why it does get the attention it does is simple; it’s an exciting tournament. It can also provide some nice value for bettors who are willing to do their homework. Here is a look at five keys for bettors looking to cash in on solid picks in the College World Series:
Understand the format – It is a tournament and bettors love tournaments. It’s important to understand though, that this is a tournament with a bit of a twist. First, while the preliminary games are all one game affairs, the finals are played as a best of three. More significantly, the tournament is double elimination. That means that if a team loses a game they get another chance to avoid elimination. One loss isn’t fatal, it just means that they have to play more games to reach the finals. This can have an impact on the tournament in several ways. Most significantly, it can change the way we think about games because they aren’t necessarily must win. The format is really quite simple, but it can seem confusing to those that aren’t familiar with it and what it means to the way the tournament is played, so investing the time to understand it is very worthwhile.
What did qualifying cost them? – In order to make it into the field of eight teams that play in Omaha, teams have had to play their way through a 64-team tournament that is broken down into Super Regionals, and which is also double elimination. In other words, if a team is in Omaha they have definitely earned their place. You know that they are in form and you know they have talent. What you need to learn though, is how hard it was for them to get there and what it might have cost them in terms of health and depth, and what impact that will have on their readiness and effectiveness when they hit the big event. You also should take a look at the path they had to travel in the Super Regional. Was it a tough one or was the competition relatively soft? Did they dominate or just scrape by?
Pitching strength, not depth – In baseball handicapping we get into the mindset of looking at depth in a pitching rotation. A team is going to struggle over the course of a season if their fourth or fifth starters can’t win games. However, in the College World Series, depth isn’t nearly as much of a factor. Teams can tweak and adjust their rotations to use what they need to win, and they will always find a way to have their best possible available arm ready because every game matters. It is important then, to look at the best of what a team has first, and not the depth that they can dazzle with.
Where are the big names? – In one of the stranger quirks of scheduling in sports, the Major League Baseball amateur draft takes place about ten days before the College World Series starts each year. That means that there are players playing in the CWS that were just drafted. The baseball draft doesn’t get nearly the publicity of other sports, but high first round draft picks can still be big name stars. If a player who is very high profile makes the CWS field soon after he is drafted then he is going to have a big impact on how bettors bet especially if he is a starting pitcher. Looking for potential attention magnets like this is an important step for bettors.
Evaluate the more obscure teams – When you look at the CWS field every year there are typically several baseball powerhouse teams from hot climates that you always expect to be dominant. There are typically also a couple of teams that are less expected; either teams from northern climates or obscure teams from smaller schools. It can be easily assumed that these lesser teams don’t stand a chance in their games or in the tournament overall, especially if you are a casual bettor that hasn’t followed the season closely up to this point. It’s important to remember that these teams have won a lot of games and played some very good baseball just to get to Omaha, so they can’t be entirely ignored. There can often be good value on them as a result of their relative anonymity.