Handicapping college basketball takes a new twist now that Tourney Time and March Madness are upon us.
Forget all the hype and selection shows for a moment. This is a key time to make money on wagering basketball, but knowing what to look for is crucial when it comes to capping these games successfully.
There are two Tournaments to look at here, each from a totally different perspective: the NIT and the Big Daddy, the field of 64 in the NCAA tourney.
In the NIT, it is a valid point to note that all games, except for the final four played at Madison Square Garden, are played on home courts and not neutral sites. The strategy of using the home/road dichotomy charts and stat numbers for the regular season with home teams and away teams stays in place in this tournament.
One other thing I look at is the strength of the conference in which each team resides. This comes into play if you have, say, a team from the MAC at 19-8 on the year playing a team from the Big 12 at 15-13. If this Big 12 team is on the road and getting points in this hypothetical game, based on the Big 12's relative strength compared to the MAC, I will focus a lot of attention on the underdog from the power conference. Remember in the NIT, home courts do make a difference, but watch out for this particular scenario.
In the Big Dance, I look at road records and road stats for each team. Throw out those home records and look at the away numbers - how they shoot on the road, free throws on the road, and points for and against. A highly ranked team will usually underperform on the road, but oddsmakers will still put premium numbers on those power teams. This is a system that has proven effective in beating the posted line with home underdogs.
I also concentrate on three conferences during the regular season: Big 12, Mountain West and Missouri Valley. I follow teams in those conferences who make it in either tourney, having grown to know them intimately over the course of the year. Specializing in these conferences and knowing these teams helps me single out winners in the tourney.
In closing, look for reasons to take underdogs and small favorites in postseason action. Chances are your wallet will thank you.