As we approach the final weeks of the college basketball regular season, which includes the major conference tournaments, it’s time to remind you of one of the great pitfalls gamblers make. That is to bet on the team that needs a win more.
Combine this with the public’s infatuation with betting on the better team, some of the best investment opportunities are forthcoming in the early days of March Madness betting simply by fading bubble teams.
Why are they great go-against teams for the sharp player? The previously stated motive is one reason. The linesmakers know that gamblers accept as truth that bubble teams will be more motivated. Thus, bettors are ready and willing to lay extra points.
But the fact is, if a team is on the bubble they haven’t been victorious often enough in such must-win games. The squads that excel in pressure games have their NCAA at-large bid locked up by this time of the year.
The most opportune situation is when a bubble team is matched up against a squad in a pure spoiler role. Let’s clarify the relatively objective definitions. Not that we really need it, but the cheatsheet we utilize for which teams qualify as “bubble” would be Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology on ESPN.com.
Lunardi essentially has 12 bubble teams: last four in, last four out and next four out. From a handicapping standpoint, the list gets smaller as the year goes on.
A team in a “pure spoiler role” is one that has no chance at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Again, Bracketology is our favorite cheat sheet if there is any doubt, though we of course follow college basketball to the point where we know who’s certainly in, who is out, and who is on the bubble.
One of our Golden Rules of online betting is to bet on inconsistent teams to continue to be inconsistent, while the public seems to believe unpredictable teams will somehow improve in stress situations.
When Team Bubble is going up against inferior spoiler teams, they are going to be overpriced because of public perception. We do caution that while betting online against bubble teams is certainly our strong bias, as always the angle is merely part of our preponderance of data scrutinized before finalizing a bet.
In so far as ‘over/under’ plays, we also lean towards betting the ‘under’ in such games. In spoiler versus bubble team circumstances, there is plenty of motivation for both squads. Intensity shows up positively on the defensive end, but the angst of a must-win game shows up negatively with sloppy play on the offensive end.