it's time to focus in on the NBA and CBB...These are some tips i like to use for handicapping CBB throughout the year..These are my own guidelines...I'm sure some of you may disagree with what i use, but this has made CBB handicapping much easier for myself..I thought i would share some of the things i like to look for with CBB handicapping...Use them if you like.
Three simple rules i follow for myself.
#1...Don't venture out of the comfort zone...If you work on 3 or 4 conferences, great !! .Betting 346 teams in 33 conferences can be a real challenge and will bust your bankroll quick.
#2...Read, read, read...I can't stress this enough..Early season reading is by far the best recipe for early season success..It can carry you a long way and it usually avoids bad runs early on..It's a long season, so read early and often.
#3...Watch smaller conf games...(for example)..It's not everyday Eastern Washington is on ESPN...Pull out all the top teams in each conf you think may make the CBI,NIT, NCAA tournaments...Use the rankings and standings...Find those top teams on TV or stream them online..I find myself often watching teams like Grand Canyon, Ark-Lit, Wofford, Monmouth, etc, etc.....These are the teams you will be betting on or against come down the road...Always nice to have seen a team play a few times before they step in the ring with another contender come tournament time.
#1...Non conf play...Can be very tricky if you are limited with time...More often than not i jump into CBB during baseball season...I start with the basics..Rosters, transfers, coaching changes etc..I find it extremely helpful to know that the star guard from Cleveland St has left and transferred to Louisville..I'd like to know this prior to betting the game then finding this out after tip-off..No worse feeling not knowing that star guard has moved on from a team that you bet heavy last year and now i'm sitting here with a ticket i'm not happy with.
Coaches move on...Some get bigger gigs at bigger programs, some are left for hire after a brutal run of bad seasons..Take this into consideration...Returning starters/ seniors/ top recruits....I like to dig into the rosters..I try to find that big 3*** recruit that landed in So. Utah for some odd reason..Perhaps he was passed over at Utah for the next big thing..Often times these guys although young, if they are starting can impact a team with his talent and chippiness...Transfers are very important...One big reason is why did this player transfer..Well i'm sure his family didn't just pick up and move from Brownsville Texas to Marquette...Try to find the reasons behind a player transfer...Often times we can find articles during baseball season to give us the heads up on why this occured..We can use this info for both teams as we move ahead...Avoid the problem child !!....One thing i have always stuck with is avoiding the bad seed...Tranfers help us with this..If we see a named player leave a big school and transfer to a smaller school..Approach with caution..If Coach K couldn't handle this kid what makes me think that USC Upstate Eddie Payne will have much success...Often times and it happens every year, bad seed transfers start the year and ruin the team as the year goes on because of trouble..Just my rule of thumb..Look for it early in the year and try to remember some of these kids and transfers..It will help.
Statistical information...Early on it's tough to know what a team might do..Using the prior years stats often times gets bettors in trouble..As I indicated above players and coaches leave and new arrivals take the stage..Be careful using stats from the past and early season stats..Just my 2 cents on that area....Non conf schedules can help us later on...Let's say a team like Colo St decides to schedule this brutal non conf schedule..Well it will help them down the road in PR rankings when the committee looks at them..It will also help them in conf play...Non conferance schedules help us determine if a team is actually good and if the stats are deemed true as we move ahead...Even if a teams non-conf schedule has been a losing effort..Look who they played and the game locations...When conf play starts, this team more often then not gets on a hot run, but the record on the surface looks bad...We find value in these teams as we break them down in head to head matchups...Big time schools can afford to lose talent..remember that !!..They have a stock pile of recruits to refill the depth charts..Look at Kentucky, they do it every year.....A team who may have been a cinderella in years past...Take SF Austin for example, it's hard to replace the talent they might have lost..Don't just go into the early season firing away on these guys..READ !!
#2 Conf Play....By now we have a good idea of who these teams are..We also understand that injuries occur during the season as well..These teams often know each other and the players and coaches taking the court..Venue is something that gets overvalued IMO...I like to use stats when it comes time for conference play..Situational handicapping is a must when conference schedules comes into play..We have all kinds of situations that occur for us to use..Revenge, letdown, statement games, travel, time gaps, etc...Volume increases at this time of year as well..CFB and NFL are just about wrapped up so the betting public becomes an issue at times..I often try to stick to the smaller conf games, because the line moves IMO are easy to spot...Who is betting Samford at 4am in the morning and moving it off a key ?..Just sayin..
Often times these teams don't have huge talent gaps in conference play...Take a look at some of the teams and find a real NBA draft pick..It's tough to sniff out those guys unless you have a great eye for future NBA talent..Most of these teams get the players from the same talent pool..That's why i say look for transfers...You can find gaps in talent with the smaller schools as well...Now sure a team like Valpo is going to run through the conference..Not saying those guys on the other teams are just as talented, but reason for them being that good can be for many reasons..Senior laden teams, great HC, premier shooters, big time shot blocker and paint filler...Just saying, don't worry so much if a star player has moved on..As i said above in non conf that seems to rear it's ugly head, but by the time conf play comes around, that issue is worked out with time.
The Gonzaga factor !!...This goes a long way IMO..Be careful betting teams like a Gonzaga or a top conf team that always seems to blow the conf away...Use the non-conf games to gauge how good this team really is..It's not hard for a Gonzaga to run through the West Coast Conf....They are on top right now and the recruits they can gather are on another level..We know this as a team like Gonzaga has now proven itself to be a top CBB school...Just because the Zags finished the season 25-4 does not mean they are that good..Take the non-conf and study that hard...Often times teams like per say a Gonzaga recruit 2nd and 3rd level talent and send them out of the conference..Just so the other teams don't stack up during the season..Just a recruiting tool...So when the big dance comes, Gonzaga looks superior and in fact we know they struggled a bit in non-conf and we found a few chinks in the armor early..We can use that info when they face off against a top team on the road in a big dance setting..Plenty of teams fit that Gonzaga factor..
- - #1..Conf Touney...Bye teams are tough to contend with..We know that winning the conf. tounament results in a free trip into the big dance...Big middle opportunities in these games..Teams get rushed with action who are looking to clinch a bid to the big dance..Public betting is high volume so be careful betting the favorites with bad numbers. The OVER's are scary at times..Sometimes we get big moves that scare bettors away from good bets..Good thing is we get enough time to forecast potential matchups..So we can trust or numbers here and let the public bet them out of whack..We can buy back in these games and try for middles with totals IMO.
Big schools can be letdowns...Be careful with the big marquee schools that played like crap all year..Often times bettors will pound a team like the Uconn's and Florida's of the world...If these teams are floating around the .500 mark come conf tournament...Chances are they will get beat and they serve little value for us.
Prop Bets with some of the stars..The team and coaches tend to lean heavy on the biggest of stars in these games..Star players tend to show up in the big conf games..I have found great prop bets with these guys.. We have a good shot at finding value in props. A big star in conf tournaments will show up over and over again.
These teams have met once or twice already..So a third look will give us a better idea what we can expect going into a potential matchup..Just because Duke blew out NC St twice in the regular season does not mean that a heavy favorite Duke will do it again..It affords us the opportunity to see if the Wolfpack had bad spots vs good spots..We can find value going in both directions with this as well...Just a few things to look at here..I can go on and on with conf tournaments...
Bumps and Bruises - Be careful of injury plagued teams..Be careful of teams with little depth as well..Aside from the bye teams in a conf tournament, take a strong look at the lower seeded teams..When looking at these lower seeded teams look for favorable matchups before hand...Although Team A might look to have a easy few games in a conf tournament, never forget that most conf tournaments go for 4 or 5 days in a row..So when we look at the injury teams or low depth teams going into favorable matchups, perhaps on the third or forth game, we can find a great spot to fade them coming off two or three wins.
Also go back through the schedule..Look for bunches of games and check those results..If you find a bunch of games in which a team played on the road for the most part, use those stats to help guide your opinion on the upcoming matchup..Bunch games with injuries now could hurt a team..Often times we find teams who struggled during the season with bunch games, fail to perform strong or up to par in the conf tournaments.
Injury Blindside Factor...Unlike the NBA, often times CBB teams fail to update injury rosters during conf play...Pay extra close attention to injury teams..Banged up teams can hurt you in conf play...Now this doesn't go for every team..Look especially close at the good teams in conf play who are already locked into the big dance..Often times good teams want to get healthy before the big dance..Aside from the Duke's and Kentucky's of the world..Look for the 2nd tier good team who may have injuries and pay close attention with the roster..Get on twitter and all the social media outlets..Per say a team like Virginia who may be in the running for a Final four bid.. It's not uncommon for them to just mail it in early in a conf tournament...Often times the bench players or the non marquee starters are the guys who get sat down and that can kill you when the game starts..Star players will almost always be listed as being - OUT in these games even if it's a short period of time before tip-off..The no-name kinda guys often slip through the cracks..We want to avoid that issue
Venue Location - This can be a big help for us in these games..Often times these teams play at a location they may have played at before..See how that team performed in that game..Location is also key as well if a team you like is playing much closer to home Vs. the other team..Crowd support in these conference games not on a home floor can go a long way.
Soft Market - We all know that when the conf tournaments start we get a ton of games in a short period of time..Often times we have huge boards to deal with..Now with rest not being a factor and home court as well, it makes it tough for the oddsmakers to keep pace with the correct numbers..Bigger boards leave more opportunities for us....These games run day after day..Small injuries occur as well, so it's tough for the books to keep a leg up on the bettors sometimes.
I often look for smaller conference games and look when the lines first drop..Look for those oddball non-public teams getting action..If this is a game you agree the money should be on..Chances are following that early money on lower grade teams might be correct if the numbers you have agree.
Three Peat Factor - Well we know when these games come into play teams often times have been beat by the other team two times already....Well it's hard to beat a team three times..Double revenge is a big situational aspect we like to use..Be sure to check back and see the spots of those games these teams have played..Also check for injuries, letdown spots and travel situations..Just because a team got bopped and failed to cover, doesn't mean it's a lock again...We often see these type of games as trap games or TGTBT games...So don't be gun shy if you find some things that you discovered that point in one teams direction even though they failed to beat the team that has beaten twice already this year.
One of the most common mistakes we make is overlooking what happened to a team in those two losses..Often times we forget to overlook fouls..It's an honest mistake, but finding out if key players had foul trouble can make a big difference..I'd like to be on the right side of a game with some line value in a double revenge spot with a team that had foul trouble in the first or second matchup..Perhaps a team who was at home got themselves into all kinds of foul trouble and it really impacted the game..Second meeting comes on the road and they just find themselves up against it for a second loss..Take a deep dive into boxscores and keep a close eye for fouls on the team that has lost twice already to this specific team.
Wear and Tear Factor - Get a hold of SOS schedules..Often times we see these teams in these stacked conferences come from out of nowhere and win it all..Most of the time a team who had a tough schedule is just wore down..This can lead to injuries and players getting rested who are already in the big dance..Keep this in mind for the top heavy conferences with good teams..Good teams with light schedules often get hot during conference play.
D-Up !! - This can go very deep, but for the sake of not getting deep i'll keep it short..We talked about nervy games and how we liked teams with strong defenses and senior laden teams..Here is another factor we missed in part 1...The easiest way to calm down a offense is a defense that produces it's own points..Turnovers..check the stats..Blocked shots..check the stats..Steals..check the stats..Even though you might see a team who struggles to score a ton of points, they might be a very good team..Bettors sometimes shy away from a team who might avg only 66 ppg..Often times these teams with strong defenses have a very calm offensive approach..A slow scoring good assisting offense is always a nice look..Why?...Well the fact that the defense provides extra possessions helps, but a slow paced good assisting offense often shoots higher %'s when the offense isn't behaving erratic on the court...Sometimes slower paced teams don;t make those mental mistakes and turnovers when it's crunch time against good teams.
Team Adjustments - This one is big for me..We can see a team entering conference play having a subpar record..That record alone can throw a bettor off a good bet..How has a team played coming down the stretch?..If you notice a team has won per say 4 or 5 games in a row coming into the tournament, be sure to look for any type of adjustments..Often times teams find a different groove with revamped lineups..Teams that may have gone big for 75% of the season who have not had success, might just be in line to surprise bettors with the new 3 guard approach..A recent winning streak could indicate that..Also look for matchups with the current team on deck..How did they stack up Vs. 3 guard teams or other variety matchups and visa versa.
Trends Matter - I'm not one for trends in almost all sports..CBB actually is good for season trends though as we come down the stretch...This can cover a broad area and confuse some people....Let's say a young team starts out the year with a tough schedule..Well the schedule and the team being young is going to hurt them early on in the year..It might even carry over for the first half of conference play..Never forget that young teams mature as the year moves on..Coaches dial in the young team as well..Schedules get easier and the late season trends can be used here..Something that is often hard to spot, but for the trend guys, keep an eye out...A young team with a bad record who has stepped up and won a few games in a row coming down the stretch just might have it together.
#2...NIT Tourn...Treat the NIT as we do the bowls games..We always look to see if motivation is a big key in the bowl games..Same goes here for the NIT & CBI and lesser tournaments...Often times we get those NIT teams who get snubbed..Good play against teams sometimes depending on how things all worked out for them..We can also focus in on past results from the non-conf schedule ...The bubble burst teams can be great fades early and good follow teams if they are a bit chippy.
Also remember these smaller tournaments provide teams with actual home games..This is big for handicapping as we can breakdown potential matchups before hand..We can find a team who we think will be playing at home Vs. team A or B..We can adjust for home strength and road strength for the opponents...Be cautious of highly ranked NIT teams..These teams are often the snub teams..So be careful regarding these teams.
Look for teams with good defenses this late in the season and look for the teams who may have not been snubbed.. Teams that have been hot coming down the stretch are must looks....The volume in these tournaments is much lower than the big dance..So the big name schools often draw the most attention when the big dance is on break for a few days..Value can often be found fading big named teams in these tournaments...Just a few pointers here that i like to use for the NIT,CBI and BYOB tournaments.
#3..NCAA Tournaments...A serious challenge to bettors IMO...The big dance at one time was a great bet..Before the days of the internet and information these games would be so far out of whack it was rather funny...You don't see those 27-31 pt favs that much anymore if ever..Now with the internet around these numbers have been beaten to death as you could imagine.
Guard play..Look for strong teams with a good defense and very good guards..This is always something i look at in head to head matchups..More often then not these teams are good..These are the teams that often shock the conferance and get in some how..
Playing style..This is often overlooked and this can ruin a days worth of work...Early on i was the guy who just looked past this..Yea Princeton stinks and they are getting +15 Vs. a big time school..Little did i know that Princeton played the game so ass backwards, they gave this big team all kinds of trouble..It took time to develop a breakdown chart for myself with teams that play fast, zone, Princeton type offense, etc, etc...Just a good tool to use getting to know these teams and how they play..Match up the teams and look for similair opponents for handicapping edges.
Senior laden teams...Big key as they get into the nervy type games..We always want a team that has been here before or in big games..We can measure up how they played in crunch time..Often times these big NCAA bracket games come down to crunch time with guards and defense..Use all of the options we have here..Senior teams and star driven seniors are often a good way to go especially if they are mid range teams without all the hype..The quiet senior team that is a sleeper is often times a good bet if the situation points to that.
Coaching...I can't preach enough about how big coaching is in the tounaments..The big dance is crucial when we look at coaches...Think about this...If Tom Izzo was all fine and dandy and the line before the game was Michigan St vs. Arizona was -4....Now for some reason Izzo gets sick, hurt or something happens to him that takes him off the sideline..Would you move this line?..I sure as hell would...Experience and patience is a must..In the toughest of games it's hard for a coach to dial in a group of 18-20 year old kids who haven't been here before...It's much easier for the coach that has done it for years to have the ability to calm his kids down while he looks perfectly calm himself..We see coaches blowup and the kids blowup in these big games...It's the nature of the beast sometimes.
Don't bet every game because your doing great on your bracket..Betting teams that you have on your bracket can get you killed...You develop a mindset of striaght up vs. spread..Never a good idea....I fill out a few brackets the minute they come out..I never look at the lines before hand..I fill them out and put them away and never look at them till almost the end..I'll throw a few surprise teams and often times i forget who i picked..I'll fill out a bunch just to stay away from them.
Another thing i love in the big dance is team turnovers and assist ratios...I find value in teams that don't turn the ball over and who can get open looks...These big games often bring out the best defensive teams..We want open looks and a team that avoids turning the ball over when facing good defensive teams.
Big guys are crucial as well..We look at guard play as a starting point...The big guys also offer value here as well...Remember guys like Okafor and Anothony Davis in the past..These guys sometimes get overlooked when the guard play is very good..Find those diamond in a rough teams with a monster down low that nobody is talking about..See how he matches up in the current matchup.
Please !! Don't be that guy that just picks the #12 seed in every 12-5 matchup..Go back to last year and see how that worked out...Work the games..Handicapping the tournaments is a lot of fun..It is to me.
*** If anyone has any questions about any team in CBB feel free to send me a PM and ask..I'm always down to chop up some of the games with you guys..We want winners !!