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Tips for Betting NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

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Tips for Betting NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments
A general view of the arena before a game during the Big East Basketball Tournament on March of 2020. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

This week college basketball conference tournaments start in earnest and they run until Mar. 14. Here are sharp tips to follow to help March Madness go your way on selections.

There is a reason it is called March Madness. It has long been the case this is the time of year where upsets happen in college hoops. And for years for most people, that was just following the games based on rankings or seeding. When you add in the element of college basketball odds and often the closeness of games coming down to the final seconds or shot, that’s where the real madness is for those of us betting these games this time of year.

To possibly help quell the insanity, here are tips to consider against betting sites that supply the odds for you to make your college basketball picks. Some of our advice is universal and other parts are very specific to benefit you.

Don’t Rush To Judgment in Opening Rounds of All Tournaments

This fits the bill for very specific info and it is wise to follow. In every conference tourney, the first games are tyically of those that finished low in the conference standings. These are not good teams. Just because the volume of games is high doesn’t mean the quality is.

Go back and look at the eight teams that played the first four encounters in the Horizon League on Feb. 25th, which opened this year’s festivities. All but one squad had a losing record overall and in league play. In the regular season, your sports betting would ignore matchups like this.

The only way to even consider betting these games is if you have a double revenge situation on an underdog that has either an advantage on offense or defense. Or, another scenario, one team lost by 12 or more points (or double digits against the spread) in a battle within the last two weeks. Otherwise, backing a team that is playing well versus one that is not. Always seek better contests that happen as the tournaments evolve.

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Read Box Scores Like Grandpa Did for Baseball Years Ago

This time of year, this is invaluable information. Knowing the score and who covered in tournament games is where you start. Here are examples of what we mean about knowing the full picture.

Let’s say Tennessee is a five-point favorite and won by two over Mississippi. The Vols are favored over Auburn in their next contest at -2 at GTbets (visit our GTbets Review) or other sportsbooks.

Many would jump at the chance to back the Tigers as an underdog. Yet, when you look at Tennessee’s box score, they shot 36 percent, were 3-for-18 from behind the arc, and only made half their free throws. All these numbers are well below season norms and with no injuries, the Vols just had a brutal shooting game and lived to tell about. Let’s say Auburn is only average on defense, chances are Tennessee has a “normal” shooting game, which leads one to believe they should win by six or more.

The same would be true in the opposite situation. A five-point underdog wins by 15. The box score shows the dog shot 60% overall and connected on 50% of threes, both well above normal figures. If you find the line too low, they could well be play against material.

Jaden Springer Tennessee Volunteers
Jaden Springer #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers shoots the ball. Photo by ANDY LYONS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Defense Matters and So Does Motivation

When a team is fired up to play, what do they usually do best? They play better defense. Hot-shooting can cause this and fire up a team to guard better. Though it’s a cliché – Defense Travels – with offense a sometimes fickle friend, defense can play every contest. As you are looking through the NCAA basketball lines, look for teams that have a defensive advantage in field goal percentage and defensive efficiency.

In addition, teams that close the season playing well and are fighting to reach the Big Dance, and say are an underdog of eight or more points, against a foe who has all but locked up a Top 4 tournament seed, motivation could be a factor in them covering the spread.

Stellar Guard Play

This is another tried and true aspect to follow. If a team has a dynamic point guard, a sharp shooter from any distance and a wing player that can shoot or drive to the basket, that is a dangerous trio that can do damage in any conference tournament. Granted, the team still has to play defense and if they have a rim protector and this group gets hot, watch out!

A better backcourt almost always has an edge over a weaker one and that has been proven this time of year at the collegiate level for decades.

Money Management is Key

Nobody wants to hear this; we get it because it’s not as fun. However, proper money management can be the difference between collecting more cash as opposed to paying it out. Now does that sound so bad? Here at SBR we have many resources at your disposal, such as the Kelly Calculator and others.

Because there are so many even matchups played mostly on neutral courts, the outcomes are often tight. That’s why flat betting (same amount on every game) is often a wise way to wager. If by chance you have what appears to you a “sure thing”, you can wager more, however, if you don’t think you have at least an 80% chance of winning, no whining if it later loses.

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