Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 1:00 PM
We don’t talk very often about handicapping Over/Unders here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. It’s a niche in this field that doesn’t appeal to everyone. Virtually ALL bettors want to bet teams sides in games. A relative handful like the additional challenge of playing totals.
That relative handful can make a killing in college basketball tournaments!
Now, I’m not suggesting that you go out and start betting every Over/Under willy nilly. Just be aware that you can find edges because of the complexity of tournament dynamics.
Generally speaking, you should be thinking about UNDERS rather than Overs. Oddsmakers know that the general public wants to get Overs when they play totals because it’s more fun rooting for points than rooting for defense. Also, TV announcers are always talking about teams that want to “run the ball” even if they only do so a few times a game. The causes many Over/Unders to be a point or two (or five) higher than they should be.
Other factors that help Unders:
*Close games can really slow down in the final minutes. It’s not uncommon to see BOTH teams run 20 seconds off the shot-clock before penetrating into traffic and forcing up a bad shot. Clemson and NC State only saw two points scored in the final three minutes the other day. That’s an extreme. But, that kind of thing is not uncommon.
*Coaches often slow things down when their stars have to play on back-to-back days, or three games in three days. It’s only natural. These kids are giving everything they’ve got. You want to save them for the Big Dance next week!
*Referees often swallow their whistles late in close games, or when big name teams are playing each other (which becomes more common over the weekend). This makes it easier for defenses to be aggressive, and cuts down on the number of free points from the charity stripe.
Of course, the most common complaint about betting Unders is that “overtime will kill you.” That’s true! Well, sometimes a game will stay Under in extra time anyway if referees aren’t calling fouls and coaches are still trying to micromanage everything. The number one reason for skipping Unders I hear in sports books from casual fans is that they HATE losing Under bets in overtime.
Well, you can’t have everything. I’ve seen postseason stretches where Unders were hitting at 55-60%, but the same guys were complaining about overtimes. Betting isn’t about how mad you’ll be after certain kinds of losses, it’s about whether or not you’re getting the best of it.
Look…I can understand not wanting to make a monster bet, like a 100-unit or 200-unit play, on an Under. Your heart might not make it to the final minute. You get an unlucky referee draw with one of those guys who thinks the whole show’s about him, and you don’t have a chance. But, in terms of playing the percentages, you’ll just have to suck it up and accept that bad luck will hurt some of your Under bets. You’ll catch some good luck too along the way in games where neither team can make a trey.
Here are some quick tips for your consideration this weekend:
BET OVERS WHEN
*You know for sure it’s going to be a fast-paced game
*Both teams can make free throws
*Oddsmakers have gone way too low on a perceived defensive struggle.
BET UNDERS WHEN
*You believe coaches will slow down their pace
*You believe fatigue will hurt long range offenses
*One or both offenses are due to cool off
*You’ve seen late-game tentativeness in prior rounds
*Oddsmakers have gone way too high on a perceived track meet
At this stage of championship week, there are going to be more Under scenarios than Over scenarios. What happens after that is up to the players, the coaches, the referees, and the bounce of the ball. It’s a numbers game. The percentages are more in your favor with Unders. Ultimately, that’s largely because too many bettors are afraid to play them. Unders bettors are getting free points from oddsmakers.
I might have a few total plays in the mix from this point forward. My customers know that I largely focus on team sides because that’s been a career strength for decades. I’ve always had a knack for playoff-style handicapping in every sport. That puts me in my wheelhouse right now.
I can tell you with confidence that I’ll have at least one season-best selection Saturday or Sunday even though the actual matchups aren’t locked in yet! History is on my side with that statement. You don’t know which door will open up…but you can be certain that at least one will across the national landscape of major and mid-major tournaments.
KELSO STURGEON’S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling my office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure you ask about combination packages with the NBA and Major League Baseball when you call.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping will see you again Monday for our next class get-together. We’ll talk about how to handicap the first big week of NCAA Tournament action, from play-in games Tuesday and Wednesday through the “round of 64” that’s played Thursday and Friday. Next Friday’s course will likely focus on how to handicap the “round of 32” that will be played Saturday and Sunday.
Thanks for your attendance. It’s fine with me if you stick to team side betting this weekend. You’re very well prepared to thrive based on our prior coursework. If you do see an Over/Under that makes sense to you, don’t be afraid to place a conservative bet. You might find that you like rooting for defense!