Bet Like A Pro: Sharp's Tips To Make Better NCAA Basketball Picks

Joe Gavazzi

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 4:35 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 4:35 PM UTC

Every day of the year, the handicapper is faced with whether to follow negative momentum or look for the bounce back. Here we teach you how to make better NCAA basketball picks.

By: Joe Gavazzi, Winning Sports Advice
Monday, February 8, 2016

Every day of the year, the handicapper is faced with the conundrum of whether to follow negative momentum of a team or look for the bounce back or, at the other end of the spectrum, to follow a team’s positive momentum or look for the letdown. Such is the case when examining every college matchup on the card each day. The task becomes even more complex, when monumental upsets are involved. With that in mind, today’s article presents an example of (8) Saturday, February 6th results and the conundrum with which the handicapper is faced.

The games in question all occurred on the CBKB card of Saturday, February 6th. Some of them were games of national significance. Others occurred in lesser conferences. But, each of the examples has one thing in common: a major upset occurred in the game based on the pointspread in that contest. This complicates the equation because not only must we analyze the usual components of the situation, but we must take into account the pointspread margin by which the result occurred.

When such divergent results occur (remember, the average line difference between a CBKB result and the opening line is less than 8 PPG), we must delve deeper into the statistics and often the situation revolving around the end game to find important clues that will help us in our determination of whether each team will cover the pointspread or not in their ensuing game.

Here’s hoping my homework leads you to pointspread winners in this coming week!


George Washington (+9) … 72-69 vs. VCU
The upsets began early Saturday, when George Washington won outright at VCU, a team who was on a 12-game winning streak and had covered 9 of 10 recent games. The Rams were leading the A10 with an undefeated record. The upset was even more shocking, considering that the Colonials had won only once in their last 9 matchups against the Rams. VCU, led by as many as 9 in the 2nd half, but George Washington outscored the host 13-5 over the final 5 minutes. A go-ahead, 3-pointer by PG McDonald with a minute left keyed the upset. A closer look at the box score shows us that the game was every bit as close as the final score. The VCU RAT (rebounds, plus assists, plus TOs forced) was 63 compared to that of George Washington’s 59. But, the stout Colonial defense held the Rams to just 39% from the field for the contest, which provided the ultimate difference. George Washington returns home for a contest against St. Joe’s on Wednesday. It is very hard to pull consecutive upsets against top teams in the conference. ESPECIALLY, WHEN FACING THE ONLY UNDEFEATED ROAD TEAM IN THE COUNTRY! VCU visits UMass on Thursday. The Rams are a perfect 5-0 SU ATS on the conference road, stand 5-0 ATS as road chalk this season and look to bounce back from their first loss since December 19th. 


Air Force (+12) … 61-53 vs. Boise St.
Air Force entered the contest as one of our towel-tossers, teams who were a combined 19-38 ATS in the role of conference home dog. That number held true last week, when our 15-bottom feeders posted a record of 5-11 ATS as conference home dog. Air Force was certainly the exception to the rule, as after upsetting Wyoming on Tuesday on this floor (70-62) as 5 point pup, they pulled a gigantic upset vs. Boise (61-53). Let’s examine why this happened and what the implications are for the teams’ next games. Air Force led by 10 the first half, before the Broncos rallied for a 31-30 halftime edge. But a 10-1 run midway through the 2nd half pushed the Falcons to a (48-39) lead, they never relinquished. A look inside the stats shows that it was an uncharacteristically, poor shooting game for Boise, who made just 35% of their shots, only 5/22 (3) pointers and just 10/22 foul shots. Will the Broncos bounce when they visit Colorado St. on Wednesday night? Maybe not, considering this team is on a 1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS slide and has a history of negative momentum with a record of 27-53 ATS, following a spread loss, just 3-8 ATS in that role this season. Air Force travels to Nevada for their next game Wednesday night. Remember that our towel-tossers, as a group, are just 27-46 ATS to bounce back following a victory. Considering that Air Force is 0-5 SU ATS on the conference road, losing every game by 12 or more points, while averaging just 57 PPG and has already lost by 23 to the Wolfpack, the bounce back may be unlikely.


South Carolina (+8)… 81-78 vs. Texas A&M
Looking to silence all the critics who claim their ranking was the function of an easy schedule, then #25 South Carolina used a huge afternoon from Sindarius Thornwell to upset the top ranked team in the SEC. Thornwell had 25 points and 9 assists, has the Gamecocks knocked down 12 triples in beating the Aggies. Of equal importance, the Aggies bounced from their 13 point loss at Georgia on Tuesday. In contrast to last season, South Carolina kept their poise to hold on down the stretch. In a game that was virtually statistically even, it was a meaningful win for the Gamecocks. The question is whether South Carolina can maintain that momentum on Wednesday night against an LSU team who is now the Conference leader, and whose coach, Johnny Jones, has historically been one of the best in the business with a 47-23 ATS mark in that role L8+Y? Or whether the Gamecocks can defend their 12-0 undefeated home court? For the Aggies, they look to bounce back at Alabama on Wednesday, after having lost consecutive games for the first time this season, and ending their 13-0 SU run on an undefeated home court.


Pacific (+17) … 77-72 vs. BYU
This was the most shocking upset of the day on a Marriot home court where BYU was 11-0 SU this season, 54-6 SU 3+Y, and 7-1 ATS as home chalk this season. The victory snapped the Cougars’ 17 game home winning streak. To hold off the Cougars, it was necessary that Pacific made 15/16 foul shots down the stretch. It was arguably the Cougars’ coldest night from the field this season, as they connected on just 34% of their shots and made only 5 of 23 triples. In addition, the Tigers had more rebounds and more assists. There was little precedent in the Pacific upset, though it is noteworthy that they are now 4-0 ATS as a Conference road dog of 5 or more points this season. And that the red hot Tigers are now 7-1 ATS since January 7th (ironically, losing at last place San Diego). Does this momentum carry over in their Thursday night home game against Loyola Marymount, a team they have already beaten 60-58, and who enters the game at Pacific on an 0-6 SU ATS slide in which they have allowed an average of 87 PPG? BYU travels to San Francisco, a team they defeated 102-92 at home. The Cougars are 3-3 SU ATS on the WCC highway, and face a Dons team who, under eighth year Walters, has an outstanding Conference record of 79-51 ATS. 


Kansas St. (+5) … 80-69 vs. Oklahoma
Beating the #1 team in the nation is always a big deal. Kansas St HC Bruce Weber was so sure it would happen that he had his team practice what to do when their fans stormed the court. But it never happened, as the faithful cheered their Wild Cats from the safety of the stands! Sooners’ HC Kruger simplified the loss by saying, “they outfought us”. Maybe the Sooners became overconfident by scoring the game’s first 9 points. A look at the box score reveals that fundamentals won this game, as the Wild Cat defense held the normally hot shooting Sooners to just 43% while recording a +3 net rebound margin, and a +6 margin in assists. Kansas St returns to their home court Wednesday night to host top 20 Baylor in an effort to duplicate the upset of #1. They will have revenge on their side for a 79-72 loss backed by the momentum of this victory. Their Bramlage Coliseum home has been a strong ally, where they are 54-9 SU 3+Y, including 11-2 SU this year (lost to WVU and Iowa St). But the Bears will be hungry themselves, as they enter on a 1-5 ATS slide, and have lost consecutive games to Texas and WVU. Considering 13th year HC Scott Drew is 44-22 ATS in Conference play following consecutive losses, it may be very difficult for Kansas St to back up this victory.


Bradley (+12) … 63-58 vs. Indiana St.
In the first of two shocking Saturday night MVC upsets, towel tosser Bradley pulled what appeared to be the Conference shocker of the season (more on that in a minute) with their 63-58 upset of Indiana St. The poor shooting Bradley team, who makes just 37% from the field and 28% from the arc, knocked down eight straight foul shots in the final minute to seal the win. They were clearly needed, as Bradley was formful from the field, shooting 35% and just 29% from the arc. The Braves overcame 19 turnovers, and the fact they dished out only 10 assists for the stunning upset. If you remember our Towel Tosser article from last week, you will note that the Cellar Dwellers (Bradley is now 4-20 SU for the year) are unlikely to cover the game following a win. For the YTD, these 15 teams are just 27-46 ATS following a victory. Wednesday night, the Braves host Loyola Chicago, a team they defeated 54-53 for their lone Conference victory before this upset. In a game where the first team to 50 might be the victor, any generous impost afforded the Braves cold look like a mountain. The defeat was more shocking to Indiana St, dropping the Sycamores to 13-11 SU for the season, and endangering their chances for post season play. A bounce back Wednesday night, which would break their 0-4 ATS streak and avenge a 79-66 earlier loss to Southern Illinois, would be of great importance to the success of the Sycs’ season. Success could be imminent, however, since the 4-2 SU Valley road mark of the Salukis consists of wins vs lower echelon teams Loyola Chicago, Bradley, Drake, and Missouri St, but also sees losses of 9 at Northern Iowa and 21 at Wichita St. On a 0-4 SU ATS slide, the Salukis could be the perfect medicine for an embarrassed Indiana St team. 


Illinois St (+12)…58-53 vs. Wichita St.
Just when Valley fans were still chattering about the Bradley upset of Indiana St, they had even more to talk about when the home standing Red Birds pulled an amazing second half comeback to defeat undefeated Valley leader Wichita St, who had been rolling through the Conference season. Illinois St was down by 16 points when Paris Lee scored 13 of a career high 19 points in the second half, pulling the “shocking” upset. It was the Red Birds’ fifth win in six games, and snapped the 12 game winning streak of Wichita St. It was a rare second half meltdown for the Shockers, who had made a living by extending margins in the second half with their outstanding depth. A closer look at the stats reveals that good shooting Wichita made just 35% of their shots, and were only 6/27 from the arc. Key factors in the game were a +9 rebound margin for the Red Birds, and the fact they knocked down 22 of 26 foul shots despite being just 15/55 from the field (27%). Wichita gets a chance to bounce back Tuesdaynight at lower echelon Drake, who is 1-5 SU, 0-6 ATS at home in Valley play, and who has already lost to Wichita on opening night 67-47. Expect no mercy from ninth year HC Marshall, who has proven this to be his role with a record of 42-17 as road chalk, including 6-3 ATS in that role this season. Hide the women and children. For Illinois St, their opportunity to prove the victory was no fluke comes on Thursday night when the Red Birds visit the #2 team in the league, the Evansville Purple Aces. On a 4-1 SU ATS streak, they will nonetheless be receiving a generous impost from a Purple Aces team who righted their ship after a pair of losses with an 83-64 home victory vs Missouri St on Saturday night, and has already beaten these Red Birds by 11 at normal January 15th.


Penn St (+8)…68-63 vs. Indiana
Among the most improbable scorers of Saturday night was the Penn St 68-63 upset of top 25 Indiana. After playing 5 of their previous 6 games away from the Bryce-Jordan Center, the Lions return home to a crazy crowd who was instrumental in this upset win. Quite improbable considering that the Lions had lost their last two home games there by 6 to Wisconsin and 27 to Michigan St. But in a contest that featured 13 ties and 14 lead changes, it was a 21-15 run in the middle of the second half that proved to be the difference. The normally hot shooting Hoosiers had one of their worst offensive games of the season, making just 36% from the field and 33% from the arc, which made them fail to cover the number in the NCAA basketball odds boards. The statistical difference in the game may have been the Nittany Lions’ careful attention to detail, as they had a +9 net TO margin leading to 13 more attempted shots. With a week to come down from this victory, it will be interesting to see if Penn State can duplicate their effort when they travel to Nebraska on Saturday and make their backers cash more NCAA basketball picks. The Hoosiers get their chance for redemption much earlier. They return to Assembly Hall on Thursday for a first place showdown on their 13-0 SU undefeated court against an Iowa team who is 19-4 SU for the season, and 10-1 in the league, leading Indiana by a game in the loss column. Senior laden Iowa, who has already won at Purdue and Michigan St, will be a tough out or the Hoosiers as they look to avoid consecutive defeats. 

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