The State of College Basketball
Kelso's Advanced Sports Betting: College Basketball State of the Union
As you get ready to focus your handicapping efforts on college basketball from now through March Madness, it's very important that you have an accurate sense of how the sport is being played right now. There are clear trends in motion that harm certain types of handicapping, while helping others. What worked for you in the past may not be the right approach this month or this season.
Here are some keys to remember...
THE GAME IS SLOWING DOWN
For a variety of reasons, the pace of games is slowing down...continuing a disappointing trend we've seen in recent seasons. Offenses will pass the ball around for 25 seconds before forcing up a bad shot. Defenses will pack themselves tight within the paint to encourage those wasted seconds. Egomaniac coaches continue to make the game all about themselves rather than their players by micromanaging possessions.
This neutralizes the impact of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS to a degree that I personally find very discouraging because of my preferred approach to handicapping. These players still matter...but the effect they have on the scoreboard is lessened. They help you win straight up, but are no longer able to carry blowouts on their shoulders. Coaches won't let them!
With slow paces and lower scoring games, handicappers must look at:
*More underdogs than favorites
*More Unders than Overs
*More defenses than offenses
*More conservative investment approaches because it's a grinder's game
THREE-POINTERS ARE HAVING AN UNDUE INFLUENCE ON RESULTS
Live by the three, die by the three has never been more true. More kids come into college thinking they can make treys...and more offenses are designed to pass the ball around until somebody gets an open look. Unfortunately, three-point shooting can blow hot and cold regardless of how open you are. Winning or losing your bets often involve whether or not your team was hot from long range. That's not something you can know in advance!
It's a good general rule to back three-point heavy teams at home, where they're used to the shooting backdrop...and to go against them on the road in unfamiliar environments. But, that just shades the percentages your way. It doesn't create lock-level bets because long range shooting isn't consistent enough to create near-certainty about a result.
And Over/Unders? Man...you can win or lose a pick by 20 points based strictly on what happens behind the arc. This again creates a grinding environment where you hope the math comes out your way over the long haul.
OFFENSES ARE GETTING WORSE/DEFENSES BETTER
The reason many games are REALLY low scoring this year is that pace is slowing down WHILE defenses are becoming more dominant. It's amazing how many kids enter big time college hoops right now with no idea how to work within a team concept to attack the basket. Many know one-on-one moves that won't work at this level. Everyone can pass it around the arc for awhile. But, the in-and-out game that creates great scoring opportunities just isn't there.
While that's happening, defensive skill sets are better than they used to be. I have to say I'm pleased that so many kids are taking defense to heart. There's pride in blocking a shot or snaring a rebound. There's pride in swiping the ball away from a dribbler or jumping into a passing lane. Defenses are MUCH better than they used to be because great athletes are emphasizing this side of the floor.
The downside is that it creates lower scoring games, limits the impact that PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS have, and turns too many results into coin flips. Handicappers don't make their livings finding coin flips. They make their living finding propositions that aren't coin flips!
That's the backdrop you do-it-yourselfers need to have in mind as we work though basketball in the coming weeks here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I'll go in more depth in future articles. Some quick tips for today.
*Focus on defensive dogs at value prices
*Find the handful of teams who truly attack the basket and control their destiny
*Evaluate team defense closely, because BAD defenses are in real trouble
Picking blowouts means finding aggressive offensive teams who are matched up against BAD defenses. Picking value underdogs means finding superior defenses who can turn any game into a coin flip.
If you'd like some help finding the best basketball plays on the board, you can purchase my top nightly plays right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the office at 1-800-755-2255.
I'll be back with you later this week to talk more basketball. One more football report remains on the schedule. That will be next week when I talk about handicapping the Super Bowl. Both top seeds in the AFC and NFC survived to the big game. Now we have a near coin-flip to consider through the rest of January.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your hard work and continuing attendance. I hope you're fired up about college basketball now that football is just about over. The Road to March Madness and then the tournaments have historically been very profitable for my clients and me. You do-it-yourselfers should be confident that your hard work will pay off! See you later this week for more coursework.