March Madness Betting: Handicapping Tips for the NCAA Tournament

Handicapping Tips for the NCAA Tournament
By Mike Quinn (@misterquinnbets)

March Madness Baby! Its that time of year again when everyone fills out their brackets, plays hookie from work and is glued to college hoops for three weeks. For us bettors, this time of year presents unique opportunities and challenges that need to be navigated skillfully. Even seasoned veterans need a refresher on how to approach wagering on post-season college basketball.

Find the Blowouts

Every year there are a few early round Thursday or Friday matchups where some teams are just so overmatched and undermanned, that the spread doesnt truly reflect reality. That doesnt necessarily mean to bet all the 1 seeds; it means you need to find the lower seeded teams that just arent ready for primetime. Ive found that the top teams from the lower conferences are better prepared athletically and mentally to handle the big boys. Its the teams from those conferences that might have been the 3 seed or lower in their conference tournament and pulled off the improbable run to earn the automatic bid that wont be prepared for the speed of the game against a Power 5 school that is a top seed in the region.

Find the Upsets

Everyone that fills out a bracket thinks they have found this years Cinderella. The popular picks are the 12 seed against the 5. Ive actually found more value on the 13 seed. Nevertheless, you want to find the teams from the lower conferences that bring a talent level that can hang around long enough to stay inside the number for 40 minutes. It starts with marquee players. Some of the teams have NBA or close to NBA talented star players. They will be key to handling the speed and size of the superior team. Coaching is another major factor to evaluate. Some of these lower teams have coaching advantages and are skilled scouts and X and O guys. Remember, just because a guy coaches a top 10 team, doesnt mean he can actually coach; more often than not it is quite the opposite. Style matchup plays a major role as well. Does the lower team do things that will make the higher seeded team feel uncomfortable? For example: (i) superior 3 point shooting? (ii) unique offensive or defensive approaches (think Princeton offense until Pete Carril)?

Stay Disciplined

Just because these games are on TV and it is the end of the season doesnt mean you should be betting them all. Stay disciplined and only move on games where you feel you have an edge. Always execute proper money management. There should be no difference between a game being played in March versus a game being played in December. If your edge is the same, your wager should be the same.

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Play the Hot Hand

As the tournament progresses into the second weekend, some teams will find themselves in advantageous situations even though they are still considered under the radar. They will provide value to the bettor as a dog or short favorite, as coaching preparation and momentum can play major roles.

Dont Ignore 2ndTier Tournaments

Some of the best value in March can be found in the second tier tournaments. Those tourneys present unique situations where motivation is a major factor and matchups can present opportunities that can be cash cows for bettors. Teams that expected to be in the NCAA Tourney and may have lost in awful fashion in their conference tournament championship could have problems getting focused on a lesser tournament and inferior opponent. On the flip side, teams that were snubbed might feel motivated to prove the world wrong. This will take careful examination by the bettor to find those specific teams. The second tier tourneys also present value because everyones focus, including the oddmakers, is on the Big Dance. You can find mis-lined games if you dig deep and do your homework.

March is the most wonderful time of year for hoops junkies. By following the tips discussed above, you should be able to put yourself in a better position so that your One Shining Moment will be frequently cashing at the window. Good luck and keep cashing!

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