Betting on futures in the NCAA Tournament – whether on who is going to win it all, or which teams will win their regions and progress to the Final Four – is one of the most fun parts of betting on March Madness. For the smart college basketball bettor, it can be profitable, too. In order to give yourself a good chance at profiting, though, you need to make sure to avoid the costly mistakes that can put a hole in your sports betting bankroll. Here are five of the biggest mistakes college basketball handicappers make when betting NCAA futures:
Acting emotionally – Emotion is a big part of the appeal of the NCAA Tournament. there are the teams you are cheering for, those you hope have a good run, and those that you will be cheering against with all of your intensity. While that’s what makes the tournament great it has no place in your futures betting. When college basketball handicappers bet futures emotionally they can be forced to bet on teams that offer no value. That can either be because the team they feel strongly about has a good chance of winning so the odds are too low, or because the team has little chance of success and the odds are very inflated. Whether you love or hate a team you’ll feel pretty good when you cash a winning futures bet, and no amount of love for a team will make a losing bet feel better. It is very important to be as objective as you possibly can be when evaluating these NCAA Tournament bets so you are only making bets that offer real value.
Ignoring value – People make a big mistake when betting futures – they think they are trying to pick the winner. While that’s obviously important, the long term winner will focus more on finding the bets that have the most value. In terms of futures value means that the college hoo[ team is more likely to win than the odds suggest they are. If you bet teams that offer value like this then over the long term you are going to be profitable. If you focus just on teams that you think will win then you may show a profit in the short term, but if those teams don’t offer value then over the long term you aren’t likely to succeed over the longer term. The favorites, for example, are usually the most likely to win, but because the public likes to bet on them more than any other team it is very rare that they offer nice value. For the serious sports bettor, the intense focus on value above all else is more important than anything else in futures betting.
Discounting lesser teams – If we have learned anything over the years it’s that anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament. Champions like UConn in 2011, or Final Four teams like Butler, VCU, or George Mason show that teams that don’t always get much respect coming into the tournament can pull off miracles as the tournament progresses. A team that offers big payoffs in the futures pools – at least compared to the favorites – can offer massive value, but you’ll only uncover that value if you are willing to seriously consider teams that aren’t necessarily attractive on the surface.
Ignoring matchups – Success in the NCAA Tournament is very dependent on what teams you have to face along the way. For example, it takes a truly exceptional No. 8 seed to be considered seriously as a good futures bet because they’ll face a No. 1 team in their second game if they win their first. At each seed level in every tournament there are some teams that are particularly strong, and some teams that seem clearly vulnerable. The more of those very strong teams that a team potentially has to face in the tournament the harder it is going to be to get to the Final Four and beyond. If you look at the college teams that wind up in the Final Four each year they have certainly played well, but they have also had some good luck along the way with the way the bracket set up for them. You need to look at basketball teams that are helped by their bracket, and the teams that are handicapped by their seeding and are less attractive as a result.
Betting too many teams – There is absolutely no better way to feel stupid as a basketball handicapper than to bet on so many different college teams that you win a bet but still lose money overall. You need to be conscious of how much you have bet, how much you can win, and whether the two make sense. If the potential return isn’t going to be reasonably significant then there are probably other ways you can use the money to bet on March Madness that offers similar or better potential returns with much less risk.