In most cases in college basketball you would expect a team that has a significant advantage in skill and experience to win. If you have watched the NCAA Tournament for any amount of time, though, then you know that the talented team doesn’t always win. Every year we see teams win games that on paper they should have no business winning. The best way for an outclassed team to win is to have a style of play that is disruptive to their opponent. If they don’t play in a way that is familiar to their opponent, and which can be tough to adjust to, then the better team can get flustered, and it can take too long to recover. There is no limit to the ways that a creative coach can create a disruptive and effective style of play. Here are six of the more common types of disruptive play. If a team has a particular strength in one of these areas then bettors should pay close attention to consider if an upset could happen:
Guard-centered – Basketball teams are supposed to have two guards on the court, with one typically moving the ball up the court. Either through choice of style or necessity caused by recruiting an personnel, though, some teams will play with three or four guards on the court at one time. Sometimes they won’t technically have multiple guards, but their forwards will be under-sized and perform much like guards. These hoop teams are generally going to be smaller than most teams, and they will likely be faster as well. For opponents not used to that style it can create some issues. Most significantly, it can create real matchup issues if a bigger, slower player has to try to guard a smaller, faster player. That, in turn, can force teams out of a man-to-man defense, and that can be a real problem if that is the scheme the team prefers.
Perimeter shooting – There are some teams in college basketball that are entirely committed to the three point shot. Their entire offense is focused around creating an open shot from outside. That means that they are extremely strong at ball movement, they have several ways to create the space they need, and they likely have multiple players who are dangerous from deep. If a college team like that is having trouble finding their shooting range then they are in real trouble. If they are dialed in, though, then they can be all but impossible to beat. They can also be particularly hard to play against – especially if the opponent isn’t particularly defensively disciplined.
Low tempo – There are some college teams that play like they have all the time in the world. They are extremely methodical in their play, and they won’t make a shot until the shot clock is nearly expired unless they absolutely have to. Basketball teams that are good at playing a low tempo game can often dictate the flow of the game. That can be very difficult for a team who isn’t used to that style to play against. It is particularly a problem if the opponent falls behind because it is hard to close a gap when your opportunities with the ball are limited.
High tempo – It can be just as hard to play against a college basketball team that plays a ta a really high tempo. Harder even in many cases. Some teams just like to move the ball at full intensity all the time. They run down the court, they find their shot quickly, and they run back on defense. There are a couple of big problems for opponents that aren’t used to that style. For starters, a high tempo team has the capability to score a lot of points in a short period of time That means that they can go on a fast run. When the opponent tries to speed up to keep up with them they can make mistakes because they aren’t used to working so quickly. Second, stamina can be a big issue. NCAA hoop teams that play at a high tempo are very fit to handle the strains of their system, and they typically have enough depth to give players a rest without seeing their play drop off significantly. If a team isn’t fit enough or deep enough then this can be a real problem.
Inside-dominant – Size is a luxury that all teams in college basketball don’t get to enjoy. Many teams lack players that can create a disruption inside and can generate rebounds and high percentage baskets. A lack of inside size isn’t a big issue if you are playing against similar teams. If you are playing against a team with a strong inside presence, though, then it can be extremely tough for you to win. You’ll miss out on easy rebounds, and you’ll be unable to effectively shut down their easy inside points.
Frequent substitutions – In basketball we are used to seeing the starters play about three-quarters of the game, only sitting down when they need a rest or they are in foul trouble. Some teams will have a couple of bench players who play significant minutes, but substitutions are relatively rare. Sometimes, though, teams will substitute far more frequently – almost as if they are more like a football team than a basketball team. That can create a few issues. First, the players are fresher, so opponents have to be on guard. Second, it can be hard for opponents to settle into a defensive rhythm because because players have to guard different players all the time.