With the NCAA Tournament just a week away, we all have one last chance to make some money on college basketball.
Unfortunately, the tournament signals the end of the season, but the positive is that we have a ton of information compiled over a long season that is available to help us make smart wagers.
If you are looking to make some wagers during this tournament, head over to SugarHouse and use this Sugarhouse PA bonus code to enjoy some fun bonuses to get you on your way.
Today, I want to share six strategies/tips on how you can maximize your opportunities to make money on the tournament.
Let’s start off with the easiest one.
1. Embrace the History
Teams are seeded on certain lines for a reason. Over the course of the season, those teams that have shown they are the best teams are typically seed lines 1-4.
Arguably the worst teams in the field are seeds 13-16. History is on your side when betting on the top four seed lines in the first two days. Over the life of the tournament, No. 1 seeds are 135-1 in the first round, a near-perfect winning percentage.
The only loss by a No. 1 seed against a No. 16 seed came just two seasons ago, when the Virginia Cavaliers lost arguably their best player just days before the start of the event.
Opening-round records for the other top three seed lines are as follows: No. 2 seeds: 128-8 (94%); No. 3 seeds: 115-21 (85%); No. 4 seeds: 108-28 (79%).
After that, you get into the mid-60s with the No. 5s, and it gets a little dicey.
Now, the moneyline will not offer you worthwhile opportunities to cash in on these results, and I am never a person to recommend betting 30-plus-point spreads, especially in the tournament.
So the best option could be a parlay or even a teaser where you can buy a few points. A three-team teaser where you buy four points a game can land you around (+150).
2. Know the Trends
Sports wagering is a billion-dollar industry, and the more you know, the easier it is to make smart wagers. There are tons of outlets all over the internet that offer free information to bettors, find them, and use them.
For instance, Alabama is on the bubble this season. If you look at their record, it is not very impressive. It plays in the SEC, which we know is not as strong this season as in recent seasons.
However, Alabama has been a cover monster all season long. The Crimson Tide have been over 70 percent against the spread on the season. The Tide also outperforms the spread by 2.6 points per game.
Compare that to a likely tournament team in Virginia, which covers the spread just 36% of the time on the season and underperforms the spread by -3.1 points per game.
All of these numbers are useful; you just need to apply them correctly when placing your wagers.
3. Jump-shot dependent offense vs. quality perimeter defense
For me, this is always a red flag. While the three-pointer has become the analytical golden goose in recent years, there is still something to be said for a good, quality big man that you can dump the ball in to for easy looks.
When a team lacks that option, it has no choice other than to keep on hoisting triples regardless of their success rate.
For example, last season, Marquette ranked 12th in the entire nation in three-point percentage at 38.8%. That number is truly impressive. The frequency in which they attempted those threes was a staggering 41.7% of their total field-goal attempts, more than 6% higher than the national average.
They received a tournament bid as a No. 5 seed and played a quality defensive team in Murray State, which ranked fourth in the nation in defending the arc. Marquette shot 8-of-31 from behind the arc, didn’t get to the line, lost the game by 20, and was sent home after the first round.
4. Free Throw Shooting, Fouls, and Turnovers
It is always easy to look at metrics and predictive analytics to make your selections; however, sometimes, you really don’t need to dig that deep. Does the team turn the ball over at a high rate? Do they make their free throws or put their opponents on the line?
Typically, teams that display these habits don’t make the tournament, but some teams are just supremely talented.
An example would be in the 2018 tournament, Michigan State went into the tournament as a No. 3 seed. That Spartans team ranked 274th in the nation in total turnovers and 266th in personal fouls.
In a second-round matchup with a quality Syracuse team, the Spartans committed a couple more turnovers than the Orange and put Syracuse on the line 31 times. A 30-4 team was bounced in the second round while only scoring 55 total points.
5. Pick your fights wisely
Something that novice bettors are often guilty of is betting a ton of games instead of “the easy win.” Now, there is really no such thing as an easy win or a “lock,” but there are games that can easily be identified as “stay away” games.
6. Watch some games prior to the tournament
There has been a tremendous amount of back and forth on social media about the value of analytics vs. “the eye test.” Some would have you believe one is more valuable than the other, and that simply is not the case. The gathering of information is not finite. There is always more to be had.
There are teams this year whose analytics will blow you away, but upon watching them in a game, you wonder how they attained such notoriety.
Information is key, and you can never have too much of it. Whether that comes from a predictive site, a historical site, or your own two eyes, just remember that you should be comfortable in your wagers. Also, remember that long odds are long for a reason, and there is no value in a losing bet.