Upsets are a big part of college basketball – one of the things that makes the sport so great. Teams at the top of the rankings can look so talented and potent that they are seemingly unbeatable, but then they can fall to a totally unexpected foe. Predicting those upsets can be very tough for the basketball handicapper, so it can be tough finding value betting on them. Where you often can find opportunities, though, is by looking at the teams involved in the upset the next time they play. For the team that lost in shocking fashion it’s important for bettors to get a quit assessment of how the team is likely to respond so that you can see where the value will be the next time they hit the court. Here are seven questions that can help college basketball handicappers assess the likelihood of a strong bounce back:
How did it happen? – This is the starting point for any discussion. Ultimately the good basketball team lost because they didn’t play well enough to win. There’s obviously more sophistication to it than that, though. You need to get a sense of whether the good team lost because they were looking past their opponent, or if they were tired. Was it a matchup problem, or did the good team fail to adjust to a unique offensive or defensive approach? Did the upsetting basketball team have a very good player who the good team couldn’t control, or were they particularly able to isolate and minimize the impact of the stars on the better team? Once you know how an upset happened you can start to figure out if it is likely to happen again and use it in your NCAA basketball betting.
Can it happen again? – Once you know why an upset happened you can look at whether the team is vulnerable to a bad loss again. Did the winning team do something in game planning or matching up that was particularly effective? Can other teams take a similar approach to try to get the same outcome? Often times a team loses in a big upset just because they aren’t mentally prepared for the game. If the problem was bigger than that then you need to know it so you can figure out how to exploit it when the next point spreads come out. Once opponents have a gameplan for playing against a team then a seemingly unbeatable team can suddenly become pretty tame.
Was it really an upset? – Perhaps this should be the first place to start. The media loves upsets, so they will call any game in which a highly ranked team is beaten by a lesser team a major upset. The problem is that there are a lot of NCAA basketball teams that are really good despite not being highly ranked. All you have to do to prove it is think about all the teams that come from seemingly nowhere at the tournament to make a deep run every year. Before you get too excited about an upset and what the implications could be you need to be sure that it really was as shocking as it seems. teams know their opponents, so if the team that they lost to is an underappreciated gem then they’ll know it, and they won’t be as bothered by the loss.
How healthy is the team? – Often times a team will lose a game to an opponent that should be outmatched because they just aren’t healthy enough to compete. That means that you need to look closely at whether the health of the roster was a big factor in the outcome of the game, and if the health issues that were a problem will continue into the next game or games.
How is the media reacting? – Sometimes the media can go right over the top in their coverage of a NCAA team. If a team is unbeaten and highly ranked then they will be treated by the media as if they are almost superhuman. As soon as they lose a game they shouldn’t lose, though, the support for that team will totally disappear and be replaced by stories of doom and gloom about the team. Both views are too extreme to make any sense, but they will impact the view of the betting public, and therefore likely the betting action the next time the team plays. It’s important to look at how the media is covering the basketball team so you can get a sense of how the public will act, and what that will do to the value.
How is the smart money reacting? – As a sports handicapper, you can’t always get a good sense of how the smart money is being thrown around in a game, but when you can it can be very significant. If the smart money is heavily on the team that was upset in their next game then their opinion is likely that the problems of the team are being exaggerated and there is value in betting on them. On the other hand, if the smart money is solidly going against the team in their next game then perhaps they feel that the problems that led to the loss haven’t been sufficiently addressed.
Can the coach handle the situation? – A NCAA basketball team’s response to a stunning setback will largely depend upon how the coach responds and what kind of leadership he provides – if he’s positive and focused then the team likely will be, too. The best way to get a sense of how the coach will do is to look at how he has done in the past in similar situations. You likely won’t find many big upsets like this one to compare to (if you do then there is a bigger problem), but looking at games in which a team is favored by seven or more points and loses can provide some strong insight to the savvy college basketball bettor.