Ah football, until we meet again.
With the confetti popping on Super Bowl LIII, sports bettors are left to find a new love (at least until next September). And while there’s a bevy of other sports out there for wagering wonderment, the bulk of the betting attention swings to the NBA, NHL, and NCAA basketball for the next two months.
If you’re opening up your pointspread palate or moneyline menu up to something new, here are some pros and cons – and bets to keep in mind - when it comes to capping and betting on the NBA, NHL, and college hoops.
Pros: Nightly action and a ton of coverage. The NBA is exciting to watch and has a roster of superstars to fall in love with. The league is well covered by the media and is at the forefront in terms of next generation stats, so you can also find some tasty tidbits to base your bets around. There are plenty of options too, including player and team props for every game.
Cons: There’s unpredictability in all sports, but boy is pro basketball a crapshoot. Basketball is a game of runs, so there are always major swings, but the issue comes before the whistle even blows. Star players are routinely taking games off and these last-minute announcements can swing the odds right before tipoff. Also, with things like tanking for better draft positioning and disgruntled players demanding trades, motivation is sometimes questionable.
Bad beat/Amazing win: NBA betting will make you want to punch the wall at least once during the season. And the very worst is placing a wager on a team only to hear closer to tip that their star player is sitting out. However, for those guys on the other side of this, appreciate the extra points once that line reacts to that star's status.
Best Bet: Dallas Mavericks 32-19-1 ATS
Worst Bet: Phoenix Suns 23-13-0 ATS
Best Over: Boston Celtics 31-22-0 O/U
Best Under: Memphis Grizzlies 20-24-0 O/U
Pros: Again, nightly NHL action keeps you busy and engaged right into the playoffs, which are always fantastic. Unlike the NBA, star players don’t miss time for rest so rarely would you get hit with a late scratch out of the blue. The NHL is growing in popularity, so coverage is getting better and stats are also becoming more advanced, allowing deeper dives into analytics. Hockey isn’t on the radar as much, so you can find betting value in the nightly odds more often than say the NFL or NBA numbers.
Cons: Depending on where you live, viewing NHL games could be difficult without a special subscription. And while it’s a major sport, it doesn’t get nearly the coverage or attention the NBA does, in terms of good actionable information out there for the taking. The bulk of NHL betting is moneyline wagering – betting on the outright winner – and does require a smart money management plan if you’re going to do it routinely. Outside of derivatives and team totals, there isn’t a massive menu of wagering options for NHL.
Bad beat/Amazing win: Empty-net goals are the very core of NHL betting bad beats and amazing wins. Whether you're betting the total or the puckline (hockey's version of the spread), the empty netter can push the total Over the number or cover the 1.5-goal puckline. Fingers crossed, you're on the right side.
Best Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning +18.73 units
Worst Bet: Colorado Avalanche -13.06 units
Best Over: Chicago Blackhawks 31-18-0 O/U
Best Under: Dallas Stars 15-31-0 O/U
Pros: There are hundreds and hundreds of games a week to choose from and if you really do your homework, there are many advantages on the board – especially when it comes to smaller conferences. Unlike the pro version, college hoops is maximum effort most nights during conference play, so you don’t have to sweat motivation and worry about stars sitting out. And, of course, there’s March Madness, which is a blast to bet on.
Cons: Viewing for NCAA basketball is spotty compared to NBA and NHL but better than it used to be. There’s also not as much out there in the way of team news and analysis with small conferences, so it does take some digging and time to find your angles. Until the NCAA tournament, the college hoops betting markets are shark-infested waters run by sharp bettors, who jump on soft lines and don’t leave much in the way of scraps (line value) for the casual players. Depending on your book, they may not offer every game from every league, sticking mainly to power conferences, and outside of derivatives and some team props, there aren’t a lot of alternative odds for NCAAB.
Bad beat/Amazing win: Last-second garbage buckets. With so many NCAA games on the go each and every night, you're bound to run into this situation: the clock is ticking down. The favorite is up by nine and covering the 7.5-point spread. The underdog tosses up a meaningless jumper as time expires. SPLASH! For some, those with +7.5, that's a moment of pure joy. For those holding -7.5... not so much.
*Power conferences only
Best Bet: Virginia Cavaliers 16-5-0 ATS
Worst Bet: California Golden Bears 6-15-0 ATS
Best Over: South Carolina Gamecocks 15-4-0 O/U
Best Under: Arkansas Razorbacks 6-15-0 O/U