Editor's Note: This Part 1 of 2 of Sleepy J's NCAA Betting Strategy Series - "A Six Pack of CBB Tips" - which is now live on the Betting Predators website. Be on the lookout for our official March Madness 2021 content hub launching soon, as we'll be releasing articles from now through Selection Sunday and opening weekend of the tournament, as well as the rest of the Big Dance. Subscribers will receive an email alert as soon as each new article drops. If you're not subscribed and wish to do so, simply scroll to the bottom of this article, enter your email address in the box provided, and click "subscribe." Happy handicapping!
March Madness is finally here! 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:
#1: Don't venture out of your comfort zone. If you work on three or four games at a time, great! Betting 68 teams in 34 games simultaneously can be a real challenge, and it will bust your bankroll quickly.
#2: Betting teams that you have on your bracket can get you killed. You end up developing a mindset of straight up vs. against the spread, which is never a good idea. I fill out a few brackets the minute they come out, and I never look at the lines before hand - I fill them out and put them away and never look at them until the end. I'll throw a few surprise upset teams on my brackets, sure, but often times I forget who I picked when it comes time to make my bets. I'll fill out a bunch of brackets just to stay away from them and know that I have my bases covered. But it's mainly so that they don't interfere with my betting.
#3: One thing that I love to break down in the Big Dance is overall team turnovers and assist ratios. Simply put: I find value in teams that don't turn the ball over and who can also get open looks. These big NCAA Tournament games often turn out the best defensive teams, and in order to counter that, we need open looks and an opposing team that avoids turning the ball over when facing an above-average defense.
#4: We look at guard play as a starting point for finding value in our tourney field, but it's often the big guys who offer value here as well. Remember Emeka Okafor and Anthony Davis in the past? These guys sometimes get overlooked when the guard play is very good. Find those diamond-in-the-rough teams with a monster down low that nobody is talking about. It's often an overlooked aspect of each matchup.
#4: Non-Conference Play. A team's non-conference schedule help us determine if that team is actually good and if the stats are deemed true as we move ahead when it comes to analyzing power ratings platforms like KenPom etc., even if a teams' non-conference schedule has been a losing effort. Look to see who a team played and look for the game locations. This is especially true during a COVID-19 season.
#5: Conference Play. Take a look at some of the tournament teams this year and find a real NBA draft pick or two. It's tough to sniff out those guys unless you have a great eye for future NBA talent, but there are solid NBA mock draft boards to help start with this process. Most of these teams get the players from the same talent pool, too, which is why I always say to look for transfers early in the season to help us find value throughout the year. You can find gaps in talent between some of the smaller schools as well.
#6: The easiest way to shut down an offense is a defense that produces its own points through forced turnovers, blocked shots and steals. Check the stats here. Even though you might see a team who struggles to score a ton of points, they still might be a very good team. Bettors sometimes shy away from a team who might average only 66 points per game, for example, yet it's often times that these teams have a strong defense to go along with their "calm" offensive approach. A slow-scoring, good-assisting offense is always a nice trait here. Why? Well, the fact that the defense provides extra possessions helps, sure, but a slow-paced, good-assisting offense also often shoots higher %'s when they aren't erratic on the court. Sometimes it's the slower-paced teams don't make the mental mistakes and commit the costly turnovers when it's crunch time. Just look at Virginia rrom 2019 and you'll see an example of this.