Five betting tips for college basketball bettors

November 7, 2022 01:13 PM

Similar to the NBA, NFL and college football, college basketball is predominantly bet on with spreads and totals. Assuming standard -110 juice, bettors need to win 52.38% of their plays in order to break even. In other words, bettors should strive to win 53% of the time. Anything above that means you're doing well and turning a profit.

College hoops is unique because of the sheer number of teams competing across Division I — a whopping 353. With that many teams, 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 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 lightly bet game has no contrarian value because there isn't enough public bias to bet against. However, sharp line moves are easier to spot in those games because only pros with an edge are betting the Incarnate Word-Abilene Christian Under. 

VSiN will provide wall-to-wall college hoops betting coverage all season long. In the meantime, let's discuss a few profitable tips to get bettors off on the right foot.

Neutral-court Unders: Many teams tip off their seasons with tournaments played on neutral courts (think Maui Invitational). Historically, neutral courts provide a huge edge to betting Unders. Why? Because college athletes are not used to unfamiliar surroundings, including foreign backboards, courts, 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 often a smart bet. Chances are, the favorite will be up big and take its foot off the pedal late, leading to low-scoring garbage time. This Under trend has cashed quite a bit with Gonzaga against inferior conference opponents.

Fast-paced Overs: The public is biased toward Overs because people 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 that shoot the 3 well and hit a high rate of free throws.

Bet against the public in big games: Going contrarian is a smart long-term strategy because more often than not the public loses. 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 showdowns in conferences 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 provides a big edge to underdogs. The built-in familiarity levels the playing field and benefits the team getting points, especially when on the road as 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-five teams. Also, look to buy low on unranked teams versus 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 of those spots is a favorite playing a weaker team right before a big matchup against a rival. This is known as a lookahead spot, which means the favorite may be distracted and a good team to bet against. Always bet against teams that just pulled off a huge upset. The public will look to tail them in their next game, but oftentimes this creates a letdown situation.

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.

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