NCAA Betting Strategy

NCAA Basketball Betting Strategy - Focus on Small Conferences


Men's college basketball is definitely one of the most interesting sports to bet on due to the sheer volume of teams. There are 347 teams in NCAA Division I Men's Basketball, which means you have a huge variety available when looking for betting lines.

But despite the variety that's available, some bettors choose to simply stick with major conferences such as Big Ten or Pac Ten basketball. And it's not hard to understand why either because big-time conferences like these are always televised by major networks like ESPN and CBS. Thanks to all of the TV coverage, it's pretty easy for you to stay up on large conference basketball betting.

However, this doesn't mean that you should only focus on the bigger leagues. In fact, you might even find more success by concentrating on smaller Division I schools, and we'll explain why below.

Under the Radar

As many bettors know, the goal of oddsmaking is to create balanced action on both sides of a line. This way, sportsbooks are assured of a profit through the 10% vig, while avoiding the potential risk of having to pay big money if one side draws far too much action.

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That said, it's important for bookmakers to watch plenty of basketball so they know what the public will be thinking. And seeing as how most NCAA basketball betting occurs within the major conference ranks, oddsmakers focus the majority of their attention here.

Assuming you stick with ACC basketball betting - or a similar big conference - you're going to be seeing a lot of accurate lines (in terms of the public). And while there's always some advantage to be gained on one side of the line or another, it's normally a small edge.

Keeping this in mind, you might want to pick one or two smaller Division I conferences and focus your betting action there. Sure bookmakers know something about these leagues too because it's their job; however, they won't have as much in-depth knowledge, which means you can find softer lines. This is especially true if you're constantly watching these small conference games and gaining lots of information on the teams.

Picking the Right Conference

If you're interested in potentially finding soft lines through less heralded conferences, the next step is to pick the right league. Now there's no perfect formula to choosing the right conference, but here are some pointers you should keep in mind:

  • The conference's games need to be on TV in your area - whether through a local provider or a dedicated national college basketball channel.
  • Your favorite sportsbook(s) should be offering lines for the league on a regular basis (not just the conference tourney).
  • It helps if you have some sort of tie to the conference like a favorite team, Alma mater or favorite player (though not completely necessary).

To illustrate bringing these points together, let's say that you studied at Eastern Kentucky University and can find plenty of Ohio Valley Conference games on TV. Assuming you also find some quality sportsbooks that commonly offer OVC lines, this would definitely be a good conference to focus on.

Of course, you don't need to have an Alma mater in a specific conference to wager on its basketball games; this is just something that helps keep your interest and makes paying attention much easier. The main two points are that you need to find lines for a conference before learning everything about it, and you need to watch as many games as you can on TV.

By really concentrating on a small Division I league, you can become an expert on it and potentially even know more than the bookmakers. If the latter happens, you'll have a very good chance to spot favorable lines and make some money!