Analyzing Rosters For College Basketball Wagering Value

Person playing basketball

Mark Lathrop

Sunday, December 25, 2016 9:05 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016 9:05 PM UTC

Our college basketball handicapper shares a few important things to look at when handicapping any college basketball game. Read on as he gets us back to basics in comparing college basketball rosters.

2015-16 NCAAB Record: 13-7, +5.30 Units 

Happy Holidays to my fellow handicappers and readers! I’ve had a blistering 11-3 start in picking non-conference college basketball sides this year, and I want to share with you some of my analytical strategies going into this season for comparing team rosters. You see, all sports usually boil down to just a few one-on-one matchups, and nowhere is that more true than in the sport of basketball. You just need to do a little homework, and can do so without even watching any of the prior games, to come up with potential wagering value on one team or another.


Identify the Starting Five:

Now this is where things get back to the basics, but there is a catch. To identify the true five players that see the floor the most I like to use average minutes per game. Any stat aggregating website will allow you to sort by this statistic, which may come up with a different set of players than the listed starting five on the depth chart. Use this set of players to identify mismatches with a given opponent, as it will match the tendency of the coach for that team. It will also allow you to find the new starting five if a star player is out due to injury.


Length is King in the Back Court:

When finding personnel mismatches, I like to first focus on the back court and guards of each team. The team with the size advantage will tend to create more turnovers and can turn a poor 3-point shooting team (i.e. under 40%) into a worse one. If you have a heavy favorite that also has a size advantage in the back court, look for that team to be able to create and hold large leads in games.


Don’t Just Focus on Height in the Front Court:

In addition to height with forwards and centers, I like to pay attention to the weights of players in the front court. To put it simply, a 6’ 9” 280-pound bruiser recruited out of Philadelphia is going to give a 220-pound Lithuanian trouble, even if the European player is listed at 7’ 0”. These kinds of weight (and style) mismatches can create more foul trouble for a player with tendencies to foul, a statistic that also can be found at most major websites. I like finding underdogs with weight advantages in the front court as teams with wagering value against the spread.


Class Matters Less:

Unlike in college football, where I would give an advantage to a team with more starting upper classmen, college basketball in its current form does not follow this conventional wisdom. Perennial major conference contenders often have players leave early for the NBA draft, creating rosters full of freshmen and sophomores that are just as talented as upper classmen from mid-major conferences.

comment here