How to Make Smart, Selective NCAA Basketball Picks Early On

Doug Upstone

Monday, August 24, 2015 1:56 PM UTC

Monday, Aug. 24, 2015 1:56 PM UTC

The start of College Basketball season is still out of reach. But for hoops heads, you might want to save this article for your NCAAB picks when the betting odds arrive in November.

Specifically, as basketball handicappers we are looking at totals and in a very specific manner. On lazy Sunday afternoon earlier this summer, ran across an article from SportsInsights talking about early college basketball odds on the totals sides.

It is well known in gambling circles the sportsbooks oddsmakers are in a tizzy the month of November, with college football and NFL numbers to get out, being the most important. Next is the NBA for hoops bettors and while the action is not hot and heavy, hockey bettors have their core audience for making NHL picks. Then comes college basketball for sides and totals and it can be overwhelming not only for bettors, but for linemakers also.

This creates opportunity and the savvy bettor might not make every action play, yet can certainly be selective.


Neutral Court Totals Offer Value
With most bettors fixated on football and the fantasy teams, they don't pay a lot of attention to the Top 50 teams in college basketball playing Cupcake State or Walkover University. However, ESPN needs live inventory to fill the schedules across the family of networks and as opposed to those on gridiron, many higher end programs want tough tests in the first part of the year to prepare for the conference schedule and hopefully a Big Dance bid.

Here they will travel far and away to face other eager squads with the same agenda and play on neutral sites. The focus of any NCAAB oddsmakers is initially to set the right side number because that is the most wagered on item more than the total. From there they will work on the total. Sportsbooks are very aware there are sharps waiting to jump on soft numbers which is why often you will find these conflicts with later than expected releases and wagering limits to cut their exposure.

What was determined on these matchups, the UNDER is often a solid play at almost 54 percent on over 1,200 games over the last decade, with a good return on investment.


How This Information Works
In today's college basketball, the 'one and done' principle is prevalent. Seldom do coaches get to keep players for more than two years if they are truly NBA quality . That means each year is about building a cohesive unit and for about everyone but Kentucky and John Calipari who are +850 favorites to win the NCAA Tournement, it takes time.

With most coaches in the college game stressing defense, offensive continuity can suffer in the first month as players learn about each other. This can be especially true for a team with a new point guard. Thus, with an emphasis on defense, coaches and players learning about each other, scoring tends to be down when both teams are in unfamiliar places, providing buckets betters opportunity.


Drill Down for Even Better Results
While some may scoff at 54 percent, on a large volume of wagers, any professional bettor is filling his coffers with cash at that rate. However, they to will seek greater ways to make money and you can too by looking for totals of 145 or higher.

Here the oddsmakers understand the talent is in place for both teams to put up points, but that is not always the case in these places where the lighting is different, maybe the rims are tighter and the other team knows your offense as well as you do. Also, think about the referees, who for the most part are under less pressure in a flatter less noisy environment and can be less apt to blow their whistles which prevents stoppages where free throws can be made and points add up.

This can all lead to teams not running at peak offensive effectiveness and the win percentage jumps to 58 percent and higher, depending on how high the total goes.

While this might seem too early to think about now, it is never too early to prepare to win money.

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