Hard to Stay Consistent in College Hoops

Hard to Stay Consistent in College Hoops

Something very interesting happened this past week in college basketball. We had three different teams in the top eight of the AP poll lose BOTH of their games. So, not only did they lose the first time. But, in what was supposed to be an obvious bounce back spot, they lost AGAIN.

I'm talking about #4 Oklahoma, #7 Wichita State, and #8 Texas Tech.

What happened to all three of those teams tells us a lot about the state of college basketball in the 2017-18 season.

*There are few, if any truly GREAT teams. Everybody has a weakness that can be exploited. If the treys are falling, they all look like world beaters. If the treys aren't falling, they can get wiped out by spoilers like Kansas State, Houston, or Iowa State. If you're top eight at any given time, the polls are saying these are "Elite Eight" caliber teams. Not so elite when you go 0-6 against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, SMU, Houston, Texas, and Iowa State!

*Few teams have an extra gear they can go to when "intangibles" are pointing to a bounce back. Wichita State may have been furious about losing a home game to SMU. They actually played much worse the next time out at Houston. Same thing for Texas Tech...who lost in at least respectable fashion to Texas before getting humiliated at Iowa State. Too many bettors imagine that a team will fire up and explode after a loss. They only remember when it's happened in the past and forget all the times it didn't.

*The landscape is loaded with "pretty good," which means a wide variety of teams can look like top 15 caliber one week, bubble team (or NIT team) the next. So, the number of teams who are within a bucket or two of the top 10 is much larger than normal. It's really almost true that "anybody can beat anybody" in the major conferences. Strategies that worked for you in past years with less parity won't make sense for this season.

How do you make hay in a situation like this? Go where the advantages are!

*Look to bet against teams high up in the rankings, particularly if they happened to be hot from the floor in recent games and are due for a cool down.

*Look to bet against teams that everyone else is betting for a bounce back. Those just don't happen like they used to. You're getting free points in the line by realizing that nobody has that extra gear. As this past week showed (again), you're often going to win outright (which pays off better for moneyline bets).

*Pay attention to three-point shooting on a game-by-game basis. Be ready to fade teams who have been shooting over their heads from long range. Look for live dogs who have been inexplicably cold and are about to regress to the mean. You have to do a better job of looking forward than the market does.

*Here's a big one...pay attention to injuries! When all the teams are packed together tightly in Power Ratings, losing a player who's worth 1-2 points is huge. That can knock you back about 20 teams on the ladder. Also, be aware of which injured players are returning to the lineup after some time away. That's been a hidden gem the past few weeks.

*Worry less about home court advantage for favorites than you might have in past years. Most computer places are showing a value around 3 points for HCA. TV announcers tend to overhype home court edge...and even some handicappers will tell you it's worth more than three. Well, in a handful of spots it is. Do you think Kansas is showing much home court advantage this year? I do think home court is helping a few dogs though. The crowd really shows up loud and proud when cheering for a home dog that can upset a ranked opponent (which we saw for the victims we listed earlier). Maybe home court is only worth 2 for big favorites who will try to coast, but it's worth 4 or more for motivated dogs against ranked opponents or longtime rivals.