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March Madness is finally here folks! First off, let us all be thankful that we have college basketball this year after COVID-19 derailed the Big Dance in 2020. We all know that this a great time of the year for us sports bettors looking to make money, and in this article here we will focus on breaking down the key, simple CBB betting factors that we want to consider - and look out for - before we make our tournament wagers following Selection Sunday. Questions? Hit me up on Twitter any time @SleepyJ_Pregame:
The Big Dance at one time was a great bet in its entirety, start to finish. Before the days of mainstream internet consumption, these games and their lines would be so far out of whack it was rather funny. Today, you simply do not see those 27–31 point favorites that much anymore, if ever. With everybody having access to this information, these numbers have been beaten to death, as you can imagine. Power ratings systems such as KenPom have great info, sure but keep in mind that the sports books/betting public has it too. The overall betting market is very active during March, with tons of public money coming into play.
Strength of Schedule
This might be the most important thing when it comes to breaking down March Madness games. The issue this year, however, is COVID-19. Many teams did not play non- conference schedules and that alone will hurt some teams come tournament time. This is especially important to know if a small school had a ton of big schools and tough tests earlier in the season. That is a huge positive for teams when they play in pressure-packed situations against a big-named schools. Some schools will play zero big teams and that could really hurt a team in the Big Dance. Take note of how many games certain teams played throughout the entire season. This year it's very tricky with the scheduling, so dig in deep and find those smaller schools that had a good amount of exposure to road games and big-named opponents early on.
Guard Play/Senior-Laden Teams
Look for strong teams with a good defense and very good guards. This is always something I look at in head-to-head matchups in the NCAA Tournament. Generally, these teams have the potential to go far in the Big Dance. Another big key is that we want teams that have "been here before," or at least ones that have played in their fair share of big games. Often these big tournament games come down to crunch time with guards and defense in the clutch. Senior-laden teams and star-driven seniors are often a good way to go here with our March Madness wagering, especially if they are 'middle-of-the-pack' teams without all the hype. The quiet, under-the-radar team with a lot of key senior players profiles as a good tourney bet.
Playing style is often an overlooked aspect of the Big Dance, and early on in my sports handicapping I was the guy who just looked past this part. Yes, Team XYZ stinks and they are getting +15 vs. a big-time school. Little did I know that Team XYZ played the game so ass-backwards that they gave this big-time school all kinds of trouble. Now it took some time to develop a breakdown chart for myself with teams that play fast, teams that play zone, Princeton type offenses, etc, but it's a good tool in getting to know these teams. I also cannot preach enough about how big coaching is in the tournaments. Think about this - if Tom Izzo was all fine and dandy and the line before the game is Michigan St vs. Arizona was -4... now, for some reason, Izzo gets sick, hurt or something happens to him that takes him out of the game and off the sideline. Would you move this line? I sure as hell would. Experience and patience is a must for coaches come tournament time, and some of the top coaches provide much more value than most of their players.