Making NCAA basketball picks is always easier – and much more fun – when March Madness rolls around. Our five-part series will show you how to get your hoops on.
If you're a dedicated hoophead, you've probably spent the past several months getting familiar with college basketball. There are 351 teams in Division I this year, and most of them have March Madness odds published for every single game they play – around 30 games by now. There's no way to keep on top of everything, but you've gotten to know several of the teams and players. You're also aware of the major rule changes for this year, especially the 30-second shot clock.
Now's your chance to profit from that knowledge. March has arrived, which means March Madness is just around the corner. The NCAA men's basketball Tournament is the second-biggest spectacle on the North American sports betting calendar, behind only the Super Bowl. Recreational bettors and casual fans will flood the marketplace this month, making ill-informed decisions with their money. It's yours to take. We'll show you how in this five-part series, starting with the fundamentals of fading the public.
The Smart Money
Every March Madness pick you make is an investment. You're risking a certain amount of money, with the expectation of a reward if your investment pans out. All of this is happening in a marketplace with other investors. The sportsbook sets an initial price for a game; say, Duke –10. If enough investors load up on Duke, the book can raise the price to Duke –11. If investors prefer to bet on the team Duke is playing (say, North Carolina), the book can lower the price to Duke –9.
This is where your profit margin comes from. In a typical regular-season game, the lines don't move much and the margins are slim, since most bettors have at least a decent idea what's going on – and it gets easier every day to become a well-informed investor, if you're willing to put in the time and effort. March Madness brings countless recreational bettors into the marketplace; they'll bet on teams for all the wrong reasons, and when they do, they change the prices. You can exploit their mistakes by simply betting on the other side.
The Price of Fame
The biggest mistake the public will make is betting on the teams they like, regardless of actual performance level. Duke fans will bet on Duke, and North Carolina fans will bet on North Carolina. These teams are usually pretty good, but they can't always keep up with the hype; the Tar Heels are already 12-17-1 ATS this year.
When the Tournament rolls around, these household names often find themselves matched up in the early rounds with the champions from smaller conferences. Casual fans aren't familiar with the likes of the Monmouth Hawks (18-11 ATS), who have already won the MAAC regular-season title and could earn an automatic March Madness bid by winning their conference tournament. If you find a matchup between a capable opponent from the mid-majors or low majors, and an overrated team from a major conference, you've struck gold. We'll show you where to look in Part 2.