NCAA Basketball Betting: College Hoops Winning Strategies for Newbies

Teddy Covers

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 7:57 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 7:57 PM UTC

Teddy Covers talks strategies when betting NCAA Basketball. Don't miss out reading this preview as he walks bettors through the best tips to help increase their profits during the season.

When I first moved to Las Vegas in 1998, I knew how to bet football. I had an inkling of how to bet NBA and baseball. But I was absolutely, positively overwhelmed by the immensity of the NCAA basketball betting board. There were so many teams – most of whom I had no knowledge of whatsoever.  I didn’t make a SINGLE college basketball wager that first year. Instead, I tracked teams and results with daily intensity in an effort to figure out how the pros were beating this sport.

In my second year in Vegas – the ’99-’00 season – I started to bet some college hoops, with very mediocre results. I didn’t get crushed, but I certainly wasn’t making consistent money. I relied heavily on a quartet of statistical indicators to make my wagers. I gauged offense based on assist-to-turnover ratio. I gauged defense based on defensive field goal percentage allowed. I gauged low post size based on rebounding margins. And I made betting decisions in games with relatively short pointspreads (-8 or less) using free throw shooting as the key statistical component, looking to place bet against favorites in that range who couldn’t hit their shots from the charity stripe.

Those strategies were okay, and I still consider all four of those ‘key’ stats when making NCAA basketball picks today.  But as I’ve learned over the years, beating the full college hoops board consistently is not for the faint of heart, or those without the time and energy to spend many hours every day working to find good information while breaking down the matchups.

It’s nearly impossible for a recreational bettor – someone who isn’t putting in the ‘full time’ hours – to beat the full college basketball betting board on a consistent basis. But there are two solid strategies that I can recommend for any amateur college hoops bettor. The good news is that both strategies are very simple to understand, and to execute.


Winning Strategies
First and foremost, any beginning college hoops bettor needs to shorten the board. Even as a full time professional bettor, there are more than a handful of conferences that are on the betting board, but not in my wheelhouse. I don’t do much in the Sun Belt, or the Ohio Valley, or the Big Sky or the Colonial or the MAC. For a newbie college hoops bettor, I would recommend picking at most two or three conferences to focus on.  

How to Choose? Simple.  Find conferences you can watch (either on TV or online). Find conferences where you can get a decent feel for teams from local beat writers. And find conferences that you already know something about, so you’re not walking in completely blind when it comes to coaching acumen, strength of home courts and other key factors.

The second strategy is the essence of my core philosophy across sports – finding mispriced teams and betting on or against them repeatedly. This strategy is at its best in the college basketball marketplace, where, with so many teams to follow, the markets often lag behind current realities for weeks!  The concept of ‘Ride the Hot, Fade the Cold’ actually works in this sport, and it works consistently!

South Carolina, Kansas St, Ohio U, West Virginia, Georgetown, Central Florida, UTEP, Air Force and Northern Illinois, IUPU Ft Wayne and VCU are among the 100% perfect ATS teams so far this season. Central Michigan, LSU, Wichita State, Northern Colorado, North Texas, Eastern Illinois, Arkansas and Northwestern are among the teams that haven’t covered a single pointspread yet, 0-fer the season.
I’m not suggesting that all of these squads are going to continue their ATS streaks. What I am suggesting, is that at any given moment during a college basketball season, there is likely to be at least 20 or 30 teams in the midst of a significant ATS run, either positive or negative.  And if you do your work, spotting these teams isn’t too difficult.

Power ratings jump around a fair bit in the first month of play, and markets adjust relatively quickly to season opening ATS streaks (both cold and hot).  But when you find a team in the midst of an ATS morph – from bad to good or vice versa – the betting markets often take their time to adjust.  Particularly among the smaller, under-the-radar schools, if you do your homework and find these ATS streaks early, you can ride them again and again to profitable results.


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