Scoring is way down in NCAA basketball this season, with teams averaging just over 67 points per game – only the second time since 1952 the national scoring average was below 68 points.
Come March, however, low-scoring games are average fare. In fact, they’ve been more common over the past three NCAA tournaments than any time in the last 10 years.
Tournament teams averaged 74.68 points per game in 2009 – the highest scoring average in the last 10 national tournaments. But since then, scores have dipped considerably. Tournament teams averaged 72.03 points in 2010, 70.39 points in 2011, and just 69.27 points per game in the 2012 Big Dance.
Those declining numbers have made betting under the total the profitable pick in that three-year span. Between 2010 and 2012, NCAA tournament games have gone 85-109-4 over/under, paying out on the under at a 56 percent rate.
“I think in every sport we have a tendency to be mindful of lower scores and lower totals in the playoffs,” Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, told Covers. “The energy levels are up and the defense improves.”
Since 2003, tournament games have gone a combined 304-331-10 over/under – 52 percent of those games finishing below the betting total. The average score in those games was 145.2 points, which is nearly seven points more than last year’s average final score.
“We definitely shade (the totals) down,” Korner says of NCAA tournament numbers. “If we’re going to shade it anywhere, we shade it down. Teams are playing away games – everyone is playing away games. The backboards are different, the backdrops are different.”
Heading into Friday’s conference tournament action, lined college basketball games have gone 1,415-1,414 over/under on the season. That’s a slight 50.02 winning percentage for over players.