Handicapping Hoops Totals
It's been a long time since we talked about handicapping basketball Over/Unders in the coursework here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I know most of you are focused on team sides. Most of my paying customers are as well. But, I want to make sure that those of you who DO bet totals are practicing the proper fundamentals.
The first thing to remember is that betting totals is mostly you against the "sharps." The general public doesn't bet these, except maybe in very high profile TV games. You can't take advantage of "bad public moves" because they're aren't any. If you see a line move a few points (or several points early in a season), it's because respected money has taken a stand and sports books are trying to defend themselves.
That said, you CAN to well by attacking the openers. We have a weird scenario were opening lines are easier to beat with college or pro basketball totals because oddsmakers are overwhelmed by sheer volume. But, then lines after moves are harder to beat because the Wise Guys pushed the total where it needed to be with their money.
So, first lesson...figure out a plan of attack where you're betting OPENING lines rather than settled lines. That means coming up with your own projections in advance, then being positioned to pounce when lines go up.
How do you make your own numbers? I know some longtime veterans who still do it on feel. I know some math guys who never watch a game, and just run the numbers through their computer. Either way can work. It's best to assume that you DON'T currently have the experience to trust your feel, or the math skills to outperform the quants.
Pretty daunting already, isn't it! It's "you vs. the sharps" and you're outgunned.
My best advice is to be content to pick your spots, following these guidelines.
*As always, stick to your main area of focus...your local college conferences...maybe a conference you like to watch on TV because of where you group up...the NBA teams you watch the most often. Don't assume you can look at an entire board and win. Pinpoint your focus, and work very hard in that tight range.
*Be aware of each team's preferred pace. It's not hard to find stats on that these days in either college basketball or the NBA. Kenpom.com has stat data on its free home page for every college team. Multiple NBA sites study pace (though some have different formulas to estimate possession counts, it's clear which teams are "fast" and which teams are "slow" in comparison). I'm still surprised at how many TV announcers are oblivious to this important area. They'll tell you that slow teams are fast just because they have a couple of fast breaks per game.
*Be aware of how teams you're following react to their opponent's pace tendencies. Some teams fly into racehorse basketball against opponents who run, but slow down to a crawl vs. others. Some stay the same vs. whoever they face. Market prices are so influenced by raw math...that you need to go deeper to find individual team tendencies. (I should note that it's easier to find "matchup" edges like this in smaller non-TV conferences. Think about following an additional mid-major or lesser conference in your geographic area.)
*Be aware of the bench tendencies of teams, particularly in blowouts. Some benches are "all offense and no defense," which means blowouts can race over their market total. Some college teams have a bunch of nice kids who hustle in practice but don't shoot very well. These blowouts drag way down with little scoring in the last few minutes. (If you like playing "halftime" lines, or are experimenting with "in-game" betting, this analysis will be even more fruitful.)
*Finally, study the market to see how the smartest bettors have been playing totals. If a team keeps seeing line moves to the Over of two or three points off the opener...jump in next time as soon as the lines go up. Same thing with teams getting bet Under. This way, instead of "battling" the sharps, you're learning from them and trying to beat them to the punch. Too many relatively new bettors assume they're smarter than the market. Let me tell you, most of you aren't yet better at this than pro bettors. I'm hoping what you learn here will launch you in that direction. You're not there yet! Learn from the market.
Best of luck to those of you thinking about adding Over/Under bets to your arsenal. I'll continue to focus mostly on team sides in my personal service. If you'd like some help on those, KELSO STURGEON'S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered by calling my office at 1-800-755-2255 during normal business hours. I have great packages that take you through the rest of March Madness or the NBA Playoffs.
I'll be back again Monday for our next class get-together. I haven't decided yet if we should spend time on the new football league. I'll watch some of the games on CBS, CBS Sports Network, and the NFL Network this weekend to see if its worth our energy. I don't bet minor league baseball, or the G-League in pro basketball. This league will have to prove to me it's worth following.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your time and attendance. Have a great weekend. See you Monday.