Why NCAA Basketball Conference Play Changes Betting Dynamics

Wendell Moore Jr. #0 of the Duke Blue Devils. Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP

We have reached the point of the college basketball season where we can focus almost exclusively on conference play. And while we love having November and December loaded with excellent nonconference conflicts that allow us to learn about various teams, now we get down to the meat and potatoes of the sport.

The simple truth is when looking at the betting odds at OddsTrader or sportsbooks, conference play is different. That would be different compared to the non-conference play, it is the sameness that makes the difference. What do we mean by – sameness – let us explain.

Familiarity Can Breed Contempt

Every college sport has a rival. Some have several or there are those that everyone in conference or league play hates, which is something you have to figure for college basketball picks. Take Duke or North Carolina from the ACC. They are natural rivals being highly successful in college hoops and they are separated by a mere eight miles and annually, these two play two of the top games you will watch all season.

It turns out, they are disliked by every team in the conference, especially the long-time members. For handicapping purposes, you still have to start with the fundamentals like shooting percentages for offense and defense, the same with three-point shooting, along with knowing the numbers on rebounding, turnovers, free throw attempts, and accuracy.

But for conference play, you have to consider the motivation and what the home crowd could mean versus a hated rival. Because of familiarity, of the uniform, and often of the coaches, (the players less so with the one and done’s and now the transfer portal), it’s not hard for the rival to be sky-high for a big matchup. What you have to determine are their weaknesses that can be exploited against the more well-known team?

Maybe they are not particularly good at making threes and the home team is known for playing zone defense or mixing it in as part of their defensive package. If this team is an underdog, playing at home and catching six or more points, they could be worth a look.

The Potential Edge of the Conference Home Underdog

One aspect that cannot be overlooked every single day when looking at the numbers at OddsTrader, is home teams catching points. Do they cover the majority of the time? No, but in any given year in a conference you might be following, they will beat the spread 60 or more percent of the time.

That’s why when you look over the point spreads daily, be aware of those conferences that play mostly three or four days a week, making it much easier to track and seek to find home dogs that regularly cover. What might be the easiest way to find a home pooch that would have some bite? The recipe is finding what the underdog does well compared to the favorite.

Possibly the home team shoots a high percentage in the upper 40’s percentile and upper 30’s on three’s. And they are taking on a foe that has their problems on defense overall or inside or outside the arc. That could set up a home team with a raucous crowd to beat the spread.

Always Be Aware of Scheduling Advantages or Disadvantages

Every team in a conference, especially those that are televised a great deal, will have some clubs that will have several games in a short window, which seems more like an NBA schedule. That might be four contests in nine or 10 days and if the last two are on the road, they could be playing against the material.

Conversely, almost every team in college basketball will have a window, sometimes two, where they are off for seven or eight days. This can be particularly helpful for a team that might have struggled right before its time off and the extra practice time and mental break of being on campus would be beneficial. Betting college hoops conference games is somewhat different and watch for situations as mentioned, to use to profit with.

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