The NCAA Tournament is an interesting challenge for bettors. For the first four days of the tournament there is a constant, almost overwhelming stream of games to watch and handicap. Then there is silence. From the end of the second round on Sunday night to the start of the Sweet 16 on Thursday night there is no tournament basketball to bet on. You can fill the time with the NIT, CBI, or CIT, but those aren’t particularly satisfactory replacements for a lot of people. If you are committed to NCAA Tournament betting domination then these four days can seem endless, but they actually present a unique and powerful opportunity for bettors. It is a very rare time in college basketball when lines are set days in advance, and when teams are coming off the same schedule of games, so their form and preparation is easier to gauge than it often is. Here’s a look at five things college basketball handicappers can do to get prepared for the Sweet 16 during these days off:
Get to know the teams you don’t know – Every year in the Sweet 16 there are some iconic college basketball teams from major conferences that you know well. You know the tendencies and the skills of the coaches from watching them every year. You know the players because they are on TV every week ad in the news. You just know these teams. Then there are the Cinderella teams – the mid-majors that you probably haven’t ever seen play, coached by guys you may or may not have heard of. The good news here is that most people don’t know anything about them either, and that they aren’t likely to put in the work to get to know them. If you invest solid time in handicapping during this time off learning the real tendencies and abilities of the more obscure Sweet 16 teams the you are going to have a significant edge in knowledge over the majority of the betting public, and over the long term knowledge always converts to profit when making your basketball bets. You need to go deeper than just the media reports, though – that’s what everyone else will read, and they are often inaccurate, and always superficial. You need to look at the teams statistically, learn their roster, look at who they have played, how they play, and how they win.
Look back at past historical trends specific to this weekend – The Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight are both reasonably consistent when it comes to trends. There are always exceptions and surprises, of course, but the second weekend is typically when stronger teams round into form, when class prevails, and when one-dimensional teams struggle. Looking back at the trends that have emerged in the past in this round can be very helpful for providing insights. There are over 25 years of tournaments in the 64 team format to draw from, so the sample size is large enough to be significant. By looking closely back at what has happened in past years a sports bettor might uncover angles that will help you this year and in coming years.
Get a sense of public perception – During the first couple of rounds of the tournament it can be very hard to get a good sense of public perception and media leanings because games come so quickly and storylines overlap each other. The four days between games gives the media a chance to breathe, pick out the teams they are in love with, and focus on them. That in turn means that the public has a chance to pick put the teams they are very fond of – often times the ones the media choose to get behind with extra coverage. When an event draws a lot of public betting attention – lots from people who don’t normally bet on the sport – then there can be real opportunities for the astute college basketball handicapper for value from looking at line movement and identifying situations where public enthusiasm and team realities don’t necessarily mesh.
Handicap each game closely – College handicappers never get a situation like this – four days with lines posted and just eight games to deal with. It’s an incredible luxury, and one that smart bettors use very well. This means that we have more time to focus on each game than you would ever imagine at any other time of the year. Most times sports bettors are forced to focus on just what they have time for. That means that there are hings that bettors would probably like to get a closer look at – and which would probably help their bottom line if they could – which they just can’t. In this extended break there are no such excuses of time, so bettors can give each game much more attention, and go much deeper into what the game has to offer, how it might turn out, and where the value is.
Take a break – For sports bettors taking a break is never a bad thing. The conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament are intense, grueling handicapping challenges. By the time the last game ends on the first Sunday of the tournament you have probably been watching basketball almost non-stop for four days. Even the biggest basketball fan is a bit burnt out after that. Taking a quick break – a day to think about anything other than college basketball – can allow the college basketball handicapper to feel refreshed again, and to be ready to tackle the next set of games with renewed enthusiasm and sharper focus.