Common Mistakes When Making Your NCAA Basketball Picks For The Tournament

Doug Upstone

Monday, February 29, 2016 6:02 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 6:02 PM UTC

We're about to enter a new season of college hoops in the NCAA Basketball odds, the conference tournaments. This is completely different than the regular season and requires a different skillset. 

There are far more varied aspects to consider than the regular season and this is one time of year the sportsbooks usually generate huge profits with their NCAA basketball odds boards. Let's delve into common mistakes normally made by basket bettors.


Revenge, Motivation and Talent
These are listed first and together because they overlap when it comes to making NCAA basketball picks in conference tourney's. One of the biggest mistakes seen every year is overestimating revenge. This is not to say revenge does not play a part, because it does, but it does not work every time.

Many bettors will automatically wager on teams playing into double revenge, which is a mistake. The old axiom - It is hard to beat a team three times in same season - does not carry the same cache as say 20 years ago. That is another article for another day as to why, but the biggest difference is the viewpoint has changed and sharp bettors know this. Let me explain.

Let's say one team defeated another by 10 or more points twice, and was a home favorite by four points and road underdog by four points. Oddsmakers would probably make the winning team a three-point favorite on a neutral court and bettors would take the points. However, today's athlete thinks different and if they know they have whipped the opposing team twice, they are wholly confident they can again and do so because they have the better talent and matchups.

Conversely, let's say a team defeated conference rival two times by four or less points, but is higher seed or thought to be better team and is -3.5 or more points on neutral floor. The underdog has motivation edge knowing a shot or two would have given them at least a split and often wins these games outright.


Location, Location, Location
Though most conference tournaments are played on neutral courts, some are played at teams home floors. Over the years have seen bettors be unaware of this by not doing simple research and know where the events are played. Every home team or one with close proximity does not to win the tourney, but being backed with home crowd or larger share of crowd is a real plus.

Also, all neutral sites are not created equal or so it happens. Sometimes, teams are very comfortable at certain locales or just do not play well in certain buildings. Pittsburgh was almost always at least in the semifinals when a Big East member playing at Madison Square Garden. while many talented Marquette teams failed there.

Notre Dame never had much luck at MSG either, but is doing much better in the ACC. Another that comes to mind is Illinois State frequently playing well in St. Louis for Arch Madness.


Overrating Momentum
If a top seed has won six in a row, that is one thing, but a mid-to-lower seed is 6-0 and 5-1 ATS, they often will attract lots of attention. Most assume they are 'hot' or peaking at the right time. However, the smart bettor needs to understand why before backing. If a team has played four or five home games to close season against comparable or weaker teams and allowed opposing teams to make say 44 percent or more of shot attempts and won basically because of their offense, this does not make them - Play On - material.


Overvaluing Top Seeds Early
If a one or two seed is facing a team they defeated with ease during the regular season and is favored by more than eight points in their first game, they often draw a lot of support and fail to cover close to 60 percent of the time. In spite of the coach's pleading, these clubs are often looking ahead and not mentally prepared, while the underdog understands it's a brand new season and has an opportunity to "shock the world".


Playing Too Many Games
With all the excitement and televised games everywhere along with updates coming at rapid pace, it is easy to want to bet on everything you imagine. There is a reason Las Vegas is sold out for the first weekend of NCAA tournament and raking in the cash. These games should be treated no different than the regular season from wagering perspective, where having the discipline of betting what the numbers tell you is far more important than wagering because it is fun and packed with emotion.

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