Capitalizing on COVID in college hoops

By Adam Burke  ( 

December 21, 2021 07:31 PM

The college basketball season is on hold for several teams as an increase in COVID-19 cases has led to cancellations across the country. We’ve missed out on some big nonconference games, such as Kentucky-Louisville, Ohio State-Kentucky and Memphis-Tennessee.

Health and safety protocols are in place for a reason, but it would be nice to have those data points during the NCAA tournament selection process in March.

Let’s discuss how to handicap the COVID chaos, then look at some teams to back and teams to fade (stats through Monday).

’Capping COVID

As teams around college basketball try to navigate the Omicron variant, we’re going to see more forfeits and postponed games. Last season, there were some strong betting angles, such as fading teams off of a COVID-19 pause against teams that were playing regularly.

With 358 schools, it’s a lot to keep up with, but try to follow teams that go on COVID-19 pauses and players that are in and out of the lineup. You may end up with a team that hasn’t played in more than a week against a team that hasn’t had an interruption all season.

One luxury for teams dealing with COVID-19 is the players that test positive now are unlikely to miss time down the stretch. From a futures standpoint, that may end up having some equity.

Ohio State is a prime example. The Buckeyes have some breakthrough COVID-19 cases, but coach Chris Holtmann said most of the symptoms are minor. Given the likelihood that a lot of programs wind up with outbreaks because of the nature of the new variant, it may mean some free wins for the Buckeyes down the line, or they could face opponents missing key players.

It is far from an ideal situation, but bettors must look for opportunities to get some line equity, and teams that have already had a bout with COVID-19 may prove fruitful.


Missouri State: The Bears are off to a nice start but could have an even more impressive record. All four of Missouri State’s losses have been by six or fewer points, including a tough home loss to BYU after an overtime defeat in the conference opener against Illinois State.

Dana Ford’s team has taken excellent care of the ball, ranking in the top 40 in offensive TO percent. The Bears have also been efficient shooting the ball in all categories, including at the free-throw line. They are also a stout defensive rebounding team.

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