A Boon To The Dogs

Handicapping Tips From Legendary High Roller TONY SALINAS!


I'm having one of my better college basketball seasons in recent memory. I set a pretty high standard to begin with, so that's saying something!

I think the key reason is the lack of 'super' power teams this season. Sure, there are some strong teams with gaudy won-lost records. None of them compare favorably to last year's North Carolina team though. And, I'd argue that very few IF ANY of them compare to what their spot in the rankings usually means.

*The #1 team in the nation, whoever it is in a given week, isn't as good as the top teams of recent seasons have been.

*All the teams in the top five aren't up to the standard of what 'top five' used to mean in past seasons. They're good, but they're not great. They'll find a way to win, but they won't run roughshod over everyone putting up blowout scoring margins.

*Teams around #10 in the rankings, give or take a few spots, aren't as good as what 'top ten' used to mean. They may be somebody who just had a little hot streak for a couple of weeks and is about to cool off again.

*The rest of the rankings? Many shouldn't even be ranked! There's very little difference between teams ranked in the 20-25 area and those ranked in the 40-50 area in respected power ratings. Those deemed superior by the polls happened to catch a few more breaks in close games. That will average out over the next month.

If you're a dog player, this is a DREAM scenario. The public trusts the rankings. They can't follow a couple hundred teams closely enough to get true reads. They let the rankings and the TV talking heads tell them who the best teams are, then they bet on the best teams figuring they're getting the best of it. They're taking the worst of it! They're laying points with teams who shouldn't be big favorites, or even medium favorites.

Why has this happened this year? Well, we've been trending in this direction for quite some time. Among the influences:

*There are A LOT of pretty good players out there. Enough to fill several dozen five-man lineups. The influence of AAU and other youth basketball programs has helped standardize play and the teaching of shooting fundamentals. It's just not hard for a team to be 'pretty good.'

*There are relatively few future NBA stars on rosters. The 'one and done' ruling allows for teams to have a player of that caliber for one season only. In the old days, stars would play college ball for three or four years. College hoops would have powerhouses stock full of superstars at a time where 'pretty good' was less common. That would create have's and have not's. Now, superstars are rare, and aren't around long enough to thrive in a coach's system anyway. Yet, 'pretty good' is everywhere.

*The game itself has been standardized. There are just a few styles of offense (attack the basket in a fast pace or work for a good shot at a slow pace), and everyone knows how to defend them. Players shoot the same way. If there was a game where teams were wearing unmarked uniforms, you probably couldn't tell me what conference they were from.

In short, parity. It's not complete parity. Some teams are better than others. Everyone's bunched together relatively closely though. The top ten isn't all that far ahead of teams ranked 40-50 this year. Anybody ranked 40-50 could lose at the drop of a hat to somebody in the 80's or worse.

If you're having trouble this year, it's because you're forcing too many favorites. You're hoping a team you've heard about is going to keep winning. You're hoping some 'national championship threat' is going to play like North Carolina did last year, or like Florida did a few years ago when they went back-to-back.

Stop taking the worst of it, and start GETTING THE BEST OF IT!


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