Home dogs are doing a very good job of beating the NCAA basketball odds, as usual. Why does this happen, and which teams should we be paying attention to this year?
Ah, it's good to be back on campus again. College basketball is a very special place indeed; there are 351 teams in Division I this year, and while not every game gets posted on the NCAA basketball odds board, most of them do. Compare that to 30 NBA teams, and you can see the potential for making some money betting on college hoops – if you look in the right places.
As you might expect, underdogs have been profitable NCAA basketball picks this year. Not across the board, though; at press time, the puppies are 712-729-29 ATS (49.4 percent) as a group. But if you focus specifically on home dogs, you're already making a very small profit at 193-175-7 ATS (52.5 percent). Wait, you mean I spent all that time as a sandwich artist for nothing? Sheesh.
Big Chalk on Campus
Well, let's not toss those hair nets in the trash just yet. It's true that, in general, underdogs will beat the market over the long run in any sport – as long as there are enough recreational bettors involved. They tend to overbet favorites at most sportsbooks, especially large-market favorites with superstar players and/or coaches. The UConn Huskies, for example, went 20-15 SU and 13-19 ATS last season after winning the national championship the year before.
But hey, at least UConn managed to go 3-2 ATS as road favorites. That wasn't the case for teams like Duke (2-5 ATS), Kansas (1-5 ATS) and Florida (1-5 ATS). When a big-name program like this plays on the road, the spread doesn't look as daunting as it does at home, where it can easily climb into double digits. This encourages casual fans to bet on their preferred teams without even thinking about where the game is being played.
I'm Drinking Manhattan
So, which teams are taking it to the rim as home dogs this year? These are small sample sizes, but the biggest success thus far has to be the Manhattan Jaspers (5-8 SU, 4-6 ATS) of the MAAC. That's an ugly record, but the Jaspers are 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS as home dogs – that home being Draddy Gymnasium in the Bronx.
Next up, we have The Citadel (7-8 SU, 4-3 ATS), a senior military college in Charleston, South Carolina, and the home of the Bulldogs. Again, their record is nothing to write home about, but the Bulldogs are 3-0 ATS when getting points at McAlister Field House. Their gimmick? The fastest tempo of anyone in Division I, according to Ken Pomeroy's advanced stats.
There are a handful of home dogs at 2-0 ATS thus far, including the Washington Huskies (10-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) and the Cornell Big Red (7-7 SU, 3-4 ATS). But don't just bet these puppies blindly – look for games where they're matched up against those chalky big-name programs, ideally when they're stuck dealing with long flights and short rest. The more betting angles in your favor, the bigger your profit margin.