Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Now that you’re focused on handicapping and betting college basketball, you’re going to be flooded with chatter about “bracketology.” No way you can get away from it if you’re watching games on TV.
ESPN created a virtual brand out of nothing. It’s not like the committee is going to care what a bracketologist things! Other networks are getting on the bandwagon. They figure, if it helps ESPN get viewers, it will probably help them get viewers. There’s no shortage of guys in suits who think they’re experts on everything.
Generally speaking, sports bettors shouldn’t care about this stuff. Many build their own Power Ratings that allow them to create point spreads in any matchup. Knowing what a point spread should be is a lot more important than knowing who might be a #6 seed and who might be a #9 seed. Others focus on team skill sets, knowing that college basketball is either about dominance (good teams usually beat bad teams) or rock-paper-scissors in marquee matchups (a team that likes to press will bully bad ballhandlers, but get bullied themselves by teams who know how to pass and create open looks).
However, there are a few areas where paying attention to early Dance hype can pay dividends. You see…if the players themselves are listening to all the chatter, that can affect their mindset.
*Teams who are MAD about where they’re currently being placed can rise up and start sending messages. You think Kentucky players liked hearing about how far they had fallen. The Wildcats are right back in the mix, seen now as a #2 seed after playing great basketball for a few weeks. If you can find one of these “us against the media” teams (hello Tom Brady!), you can string together betting victories with them.
*Teams who see that they’re currently a #1 seed can get COMPLACENT. National powers are always priced to play perfectly anyway. They’re huge favorites over also-rans, and medium-size favorites against quality opposition. Duke lost outright at home to Syracuse. Tennessee almost lost outright at home to Alabama this past weekend. You will find good value bets fading overconfident superpowers, and that will only get better in February as the postseason starts to loom larger.
*Teams who are on the bubble can go either way. Some realize that they have to get the job done…and start playing well. Others get nervous, and choke away their opportunities. You could pick any season from the past several years and find at least five examples of each. It wouldn’t hurt you to look at the teams currently on the bubble (even though it’s only late January) and start looking for heroes and zeroes. Sloppy play late in close games will provide you some hints. You don’t win money betting on chokers!
What about “futures” prices? Can studying bracketology help you make smart bets on which teams are capable of running the table in the Dance? Frankly, there’s almost no such thing as a smart futures bet! You’re rarely getting true odds, let alone good odds. If you just wait until the brackets are set, you’ll score a better return betting your selected team to win straight up on the money line over and over again…pressing up your initial stake all the way.
If you want to use media pundits to help you find longshots with a chance to make headlines, go for it. That’s probably a strike against you. Smart bettors should always be several steps ahead of pundits (and miles ahead of the loudest pundits).
If you think all the bracketology chatter increases your enjoyment of college basketball, JIM HURLEY isn’t going to get in the way. Betting should be fun. Maybe you’ll discover a team or two you weren’t paying attention to.
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