13 Tips for Betting the 2020 College Basketball Season

November 30, 2020 09:28 AM

Roughly eight months ago the sporting universe was flipped upside down due to the pandemic. With it came the suspension of the college basketball season on March 11, depriving bettors of arguably the most exciting sports betting event of the year: March Madness.

Luckily, the long wait has finally come to an end as the college hoops season returns today. Many casual or recreational bettors wait until March Madness to fill out brackets and get down on college hoops. But the team at VSiN will help you make smart bets starting on Day 1 by providing actionable content, analysis, power ratings and more.

I would highly recommend purchasing our 452-page College Basketball betting guide. It's only $9.99 and will give you a huge leg up on your handicapping.

For an updated breakdown of Wednesday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at noon ET. I'll be joining The Lombardi Line at 12:25 p.m. ET to offer an action update. I'll also be co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3-5 p.m. ET. Lastly, I'll be joining Point Spread Weekly at 10 p.m. ET to discuss college basketball betting with Greg Peterson.

At VSiN, we'll be providing wall-to-wall college hoops betting coverage all season long. In the meantime, let's discuss a few profitable tips to get bettors started on the right foot.

Realistic Expectations: Similar to the NBA and pro and college football, college hoops is a predominantly spread and total sport. Assuming standard -110 juice, this means bettors need to win 52.38% of their plays in order to break even. In other words, bettors should strive to win 53% or more of their bets. Anything above that means you're doing well and turning a profit. If you can hit 55%, you're having a great season.

Shop for the Best Line: Having multiple "outs" is key for all sports, especially college basketball. Don't just bet through one sportsbook. You are limiting yourself because it forces you to play whatever number your one book is offering. Open up multiple accounts at several different books so you can get the best number. If you want to be Duke, one book may have -10 while another has -9.5. That half point could be the difference between a win and a push. Also, shop around to ensure you are paying the lowest juice possible. Two different books may both have a total of 140, but the under might be -115 at one book while another is -110.

Approach Games Differently: College hoops is unique due to the sheer number of teams competing across Division 1-- more than 300 total. This means that not all games are created equal and, as a result, should be approached differently. A nationally televised game between North Carolina and Duke will get massive betting action while an under-the-radar matchup between Vermont and Albany will attract almost zero public betting. The popular heavily bet games provide excellent contrarian value along with shaded lines and a soft, recreational market on which to capitalize. On the other hand, a low bet game has nonexistent contrarian value because there isn't enough public bias to bet against. However, sharp line moves are easier to spot because only pros with an edge are betting Incarnate Word-Abilene Christian Under, driving the total down from 145 to 142.

Neutral Court Unders: Many teams play early season tournaments to kick off their year, such as the Maui Invitational. These games are played on neutral courts. Historically, neutral courts provide an edge to betting unders. Why? Because young college athletes are not used to the unfamiliar surroundings, including foreign backboards, courts and different shooting backdrops and sightlines. This leads to lower scoring games.

High Total, Big Spread Unders: In the NBA, a high total is considered roughly 220 or higher. In college it's more like 150. When you see a big spread (-15 or higher) alongside a high total (150 or more), the under is oftentimes a smart bet. Chances are, the favorite will be up big and take their foot off the gas pedal late, leading to low-scoring garbage time. This under trend has cashed quite a bit with Gonzaga unders against inferior conference opponents.

Fast Pace Overs: The public is biased toward betting overs because they want to see a high scoring, entertaining game. The sportsbooks know this and will shade numbers higher, which is why inflated unders have more value in a vacuum. If you're looking to bet an over, focus on teams that play at a fast tempo. The faster the pace, the more possessions and opportunities to score. Also focus on teams who shoot the three well and hit a high rate of foul shots.

Bet Against the Public in Big Games: Going contrarian is a smart long term strategy because more often than not the public loses and the house always wins. But you can only bet against the public in big games that feature heavy public action. A good rule of thumb is to look for nationally televised games featuring big name schools and ranked teams. Also, focus on big conference showdowns such as the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and Pac 12. If the public is heavy on one side in these matchups, backing the contrarian dog has added value.

Big Road Conference Dogs: Conference play doesn't begin for most schools until later in the season.This is when the college hoops season really heats up and we get great rivalry games, specifically on Saturdays. Conference play provides a big edge to underdogs. The built in familiarity levels the playing field and benefits the team getting points, especially if they are on the road (because the public overvalues home court advantage). Double digit conference dogs that see line movement in their favor (think + 17 to + 15) have also been a smart bet historically.

Bet Against Top Ranked Teams: Public bettors love betting on highly ranked teams. This leads to shaded and inflated lines, providing added value to bet against these teams, especially top 5 teams. Also, look to buy low on unranked teams vs ranked teams. A perfect storm is when an unranked team is favored over a ranked team. The public will almost always fall into the trap of taking the ranked team. But if it looks too good to be true, it almost always is.

Situational Spots: Always be aware of scheduling, specifically situational spots. One might be a favorite playing a lowly team right before a big matchup with a rival. This is known as a "lookahead" spot, which means the favorite may be distracted and a good team to bet against. Also, look to bet against teams who just pull off huge upsets. The public will look to tail them in their next game but oftentimes this creates a "letdown" situation.

The 20-point Rule: One system that has cashed consistently for me over the years is betting the second half under after both teams go way over in the first half. It only works in extreme circumstances. For example, let's say a full game total is 140. In the first half both teams combine for 90 points. The second half total is set at 75. Add up the total points scored in the first half (90) with the second half total (75). If that number is at least 20-points higher than the full game odds (165 vs 140), then take the second half under. The oddsmakers are excellent at what they do and more often than not the final score will land relatively close to the closing total.

Lean on Ken Pomeroy: If you're serious about betting college hoops, sign up for a Ken Pom membership. He provides the best analytics and power rankings on the planet, along with projected scores for each game. I have used Ken Pom's data for years and it has helped me immensely.

Use Twitter to Your Advantage: Twitter is often considered a sports bettor's best friend, or at least an important tool in the toolbox of a better. The betting market is fluid and getting real-time information can be critically useful. This includes being the first to know about breaking injuries. This year, learning about players out with Covid and then jumping on lines before they move will be crucial. Also, be sure to follow local beat reporters and school newspapers. You will often glean the best information from local sources who are around the team on a daily basis.

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