Tips For Betting Smart in the NCAA Tourney

HOW NOT TO BE A SQUARE IN THE BIG DANCE: TIPS FOR BETTING SMART IN THE 2016 TOURNEY

We'll begin our big game previews for the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Wednesday here in the NOTEBOOK. We plan to focus on the most interesting evening game Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as the field winnows itself down from 68 teams to the Sweet 16 by next Monday.

Between now and then, here are some important factors for you to consider that will help you avoid being a SQUARE when betting the Big Dance.

NO, THE VEGAS LINES ARE NOT ALL TOO SMALL!
There has been a growing clamor in recent seasons from casual bettors that Las Vegas oddsmakers have overreacted to dog lovers and made most of the line too low. It's amazing how squares will invent reasons to bet on favorites! Look, some favorites will cover. Some of the line really are too small. But, YOU need to be aware of realities in the modern game.

*There's much more parity than there used to be
*Increased emphasis on three-point shooting has been an equalizer
*The reduction of the shot-clock to 30 seconds this season has been an equalizer
*Conservative head coaches tend to limit their own team's blowout potential

Pointspreads that were minus16-20 a decade ago are now around minus10-12. Pointspreads that were around minus 9-10 a decade ago are now around minus 5-6. Pointspreads that were around minus 3-4 a decade ago are now at pick-em. The elite just aren't that elite any more in terms of being way ahead of the pack. The pack is dense because a lot of teams can make three-pointers and a lot of head coaches try to micro-manage the final minutes of close games.

If you find yourself liking most of the favorites this week, you're doing something wrong. If you find yourself LOVING a lot of favorites, you're in danger of taking a real bath. Las Vegas long timers know that squares bet medium and big favorites, while sharps emphasize underdogs and short favorites.

NO, THE RANKED SUPERPOWERS AREN'T GOING TO CRUSH EVERYBODY
The media loves hyping teams because they want viewers to be excited about upcoming broadcasts. As a result, announcers have been gushing about teams who have closed the season playing well. Kansas is supposedly unbeatable because they've gotten hot. To hear ESPN tell it this past weekend, Kansas and North Carolina were both going to coast to the Final Four because they won the Big 12 and ACC tournaments respectively. Yes those are very good teams playing very well. But, history has shown time and time again that whoever seems like they're the best team (or handful of teams) entering the Dance don't necessarily look unbeatable a couple of weeks later. Kentucky didn't even reach the Finals last year after getting "best team of ALL TIME" hype through the regular season.

*Some teams peak too early
*Some teams get overconfident from all the hype
*Some teams have weaknesses that aren't exploited until they run into Dance pressure
*Some coaches are great in February and early March, but choke in the Dance
*All opponents are gunning for them!

Maybe Kansas and North Carolina will coast to the Final Four. What's much more likely is that they will face serious challenges along the way. And, it's impossible to know when any given opponent will have a great day from long range. Don't forget that we had a recent Final Four where NONE of the #1 seeds made it even though the media was hyping them to death (that was the year UCONN beat Butler in the finals).

If you're already imagining yourself riding a gravy train driven by one or two of the top teams...you need to look more closely at the tracks ahead!

NO, THE STUDIO PUNDIT'S DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT
The worst thing that can happen to a square bettor just after the brackets have been announced, or through the week of build-up, is when the TV pundits are saying what he was already thinking. If Jay Bilas loves the same team you love, run away! He was the one telling everyone Virginia Commonwealth didn't even belong in the tournament just before they made it all the way to the Final Four. Dick Vitale? He had to stand on his head back when ESPN showed the early rounds ages ago. The blood hasn't circulated well since.

If people ever went back and checked what these so-called experts had said every year, the pundits would all be fired! True for whatever network you're talking about. Hearing a studio guy agree with you doesn't make your pick stronger. If anything, it makes it weaker because you won't be getting line value. Fade the TV pundits if you want to make money.

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Back with you midweek to start those big-game previews.
Wednesday-Thursday: The best game from Thursday night's session
Thursday-Friday: The best game from Friday night's session
Friday-Saturday: The most appealing prime time matchup from the Round of 32
Saturday-Sunday: Another marquee matchup as the Round of 32 comes to an end

Thanks for being with us all through Championship Week in the conference tournaments. Now last week's survivors will go to war to determine the National Champion. As you saw again last week...when championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

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