March Madness is my favorite time of the year. There are hundreds of high-intensity, pressure-packed games, resulting in many down to the wire finishes and a few thrilling buzzer beaters. The Big Dance is the darling of the masses but from a betting perspective, Conference Tourney time provides more opportunities to find value due to the high volume of lined games compacted in a 10-day window; coupled with so many additional angles to factor in. Betting lines towards the end of seasons in all sports are usually sharp (efficiently priced) but there are some angles that are amplified during this time period that aren’t always built into lines (priced into the number) and can be exploited.
Throughout the Conference Tournament season, and into the NCAA Tournament chaos, we will be giving out plays for you guys, but in order to help you better understand some of the research that goes into coming to a decision on these plays we have built a quick outline of some things to look for before making a final decision. We will obviously be doing this legwork for you on a game by game basis, but the point of these next 5 weeks is to not only build your bankroll, but build your skill set and knowledge base. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as things I consider before placing wagers, but it can serve as a decent starting point for you guys. Below we have included a basic “degen dictionary” for some commonly used terms that you can reference in case you hear us say things on the weekly podcasts that you don’t understand.Some of these are:
What is the motivation for each team? Do they have anything to play for? Does a team need to win in order to punch their ticket to the Big Dance? Are they playing a team that is already firmly in the Big Dance? A team already in the dance is likely to not be nearly as motivated as one that is fighting for a chance to punch their ticket. Is a team fighting for a 1 or 2 seed in the Big Dance? Obviously, seeding is EVERYTHING in the tournament, these teams will fight hard to secure the highest seed possible. Betting on a team that needs a signature win or two against a team that’s already projected to be a 3 through 10 seed is a solid angle. Oddsmakers can overlook these motivational issues and by understanding them you can exploit these softer lines (lines that are not as efficient).
Does this coach care about their conference tourney or thinks it’s a waste of time? A lot of coaches see these games as glorified exhibition games. What is the coaches’ tournament history? You can easily check this by looking at past years’ records in the tournaments. Do they repeatedly lose early? If so the coach likely does not give care. How good is the coach at game-planning on short rest, potentially on multiple back-to-back games? This is a little bit harder to determine but if you do some digging on past tournaments you can compile a record of these situations.
Check to see how matchups between teams during the regular season went. Did one team win both meetings? Were they convincing wins or were they fluky? Was there a significant FT (free throw) disparity? Was a key player missing in either game or did a player have a career night? Did one team cover both games? It’s tough to beat a team 3 times in a season, and even tougher to cover 3 times.
Recent form heading into tournaments doesn’t mean much. Recent form in the tournament does. Is a team shooting well in the neutral venue they are playing in? It is critical to remember that these games are on a neutral court. Thus neither team has a home court advantage. Does a team have enough depth to withstand back-to-back, 3 games in 3 days or even 4 in 4 days? These tournaments are HARD. It takes bench depth to make deep runs. A couple of injuries can swing a teams win probability drastically day to day so be sure to pay attention to injury reports.
Here are a few more tips:
Look to bet openers / early lines.
This is a best practice for throughout the season but more important during Conference Tourney time. There is an extremely large number of games that includes teams that typically aren’t lined during the regular season. With such a high volume of games combined with focus spread thinner on more teams than normal, the likelihood of mispriced lines is higher this time of the year. Lines after tournaments start are typically released the following morning. Do your homework overnight and be ready to jump on them.
Ignore Conference Tournament seeding.
They don’t matter and rarely impact lines. A #1 seeded team is not necessarily the favorite to win that tournament. Conversely, the worst seeded team is not necessarily the worst team in that tournament.
Don’t ignore 1H (First Half) and 2H (Second Half) opportunities.
Teams that have a game or two under their belt while their opponent hasn’t played in a week is a solid opportunity to play against the “rusty” team 1H and potentially flip on them in the 2H as they ease back into their usual game-flow rhythm.
Risk management and bankroll management is always a must…
…but especially more so during tournament time. Due to the large number of betting opportunities and to protect against variance, stick to a flat-betting strategy or reasonable kelly-betting* multiplier.
Enjoy the Madness and make some profits while doing so!