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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 3:00 PM

I’ve compiled some bonus Power Ratings for you for teams who won automatic bids in some of the lesser conferences. Before I run through those, I wanted to let you know about something I do with my personal ratings just before the Big Dance starts.

For teams who ran roughshod over a weak conference all season, particularly if they won their conference tournament in impressive fashion, I pull the rating back at least a half a point. Great examples this year are Gonzaga and Wichita State. It was easy to keep lifting their rating during strong stretches. Then, they both won blowouts in their conference championship games. Despite that, I’m knocking half a point off of BOTH entering the Dance.

Gonzaga falls from 74 to 73.5

Wichita State falls from 70.5 to 70

Why would I knock them DOWN after playing so well? Many reasons.

*Soft conference schedules tend to “accidentally” inflate ratings. Just because you can run up the score on weak opposition doesn’t mean you’re as good as the quality programs you might run into in the Dance.

*No teams are as consistently good as they look at their best. Handicappers and bettors can’t assume a team will always play their best every time out. You want an assessment for their typical performance. A string of great results can trick you into thinking a team is better than they really are.

*The layoff between the conference tournaments and the NCAA’s usually doesn’t help teams who are already playing well. It’s either going to be a non-issue, or it’s going to be a hindrance. Lowering the rating a half-point to a point helps prevent you from getting gradings on teams you’ve overreacted to.

Remember, we compile our own Power Ratings to look for value bets against market prices. If you DON’T make this kind of adjustment, you’ll fall into the trap of backing overrated teams just at the point where they’re likely to lay an egg. If you DO make this tweak, then you’re more likely to get a grading on opponents who can take advantage of an overrated or flat opponent.

What do squares do? They bet while thinking “Wow, Gonzaga just looked great in their tournament, I want to lay the points with them.” Or, “Wichita State’s on fire, they’re going to breeze through their first game.”

Hey, maybe Gonzaga and Wichita State will keep playing at their peaks. What’s more likely to happen, though, over the large number of teams who have looked great in a weak conference, is that more than half will be overpriced. For every three that keep playing well, four will fail to play to expectations. Sharps try to go 4-3 every seven picks rather than divining which hot mid-major will stay hot when they step up in class.

(Well, honestly, some sharps fall into this trap too! Some computer types have fallen in love with various #13 and #14 seeds who turned out to be pretenders).

As promised, here are my ratings for recent Dance qualifiers from non-TV conferences. You can add them to my list from that prior article.

62: NC Wilmington

59: East Tennessee State

57.5: Bucknell

56.5: Iona

55.5: Winthrop and Florida Gulf Coast

54.5: Northern Kentucky

53.5: South Dakota State

51: Jacksonville State

47: Mount St. Mary’s

The best teams in the nation are up around 73-74 in my ratings. Sweet 16 caliber teams are in the high 60’s and low 70’s. Bubble teams are down around 63-64.

You’ll see on Selection Sunday that the seedings will largely track that ordering. NC Wilmington is a very dangerous mid-major who will probably be priced to scare somebody in the first round. There are more “bottom of the barrel” teams still to join the brackets this weekend in lesser leagues. We’re going to have some 20-plus underdogs in the first round when elites face the worst teams in the ratings.

I know many of you don’t follow teams like Bucknell or Northern Kentucky…or don’t know the difference between South Dakota State and Mount St. Mary’s. These ratings will at least give you a starting point for evaluating that class of team when you start to make picks or fill out your office brackets.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like some help finding value on the board this weekend and all through this very exciting month, you can purchase my BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm packages, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155.

I’m like a kid in a candy store this week with great college basketball matchups running all day and all night. If you’re having as much fun as I am…let’s try to win together. I don’t post monsters or mega-plays. But you always get my best shots as we aim to “bet like the sharps” and build our bankrolls. 

See you again early next week as we resume our popular “How the Sharps are Betting” reports through the first week of the NCAA’s. The postseason fun is just beginning!

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