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Do Your Work!
by Scott Spreitzer - 02/10/2009
I've been listening to sports bettors talk about college basketball a lot lately. Once football winds down, that's what most gamblers are focused on. It's very discouraging to listen to the conversations, and realize that a lot of bettors know so little about the teams they're betting on.
*They don't know the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and EVERY team has strengths and weaknesses. Some might be stronger on offense, others on defense. Some make a lot of turnovers and force up bad shots. Others protect the ball and treasure every possession. There are good coaches and bad coaches. Many basketball bettors don't know the difference.
*They don't know the styles of different teams. Some offenses focus on three-pointers while others are always flying at the basket. Some teams use a full court press on defense while others pack everyone in the paint. There are run-and-gun teams and slow as molasses teams. Gamblers may know one or two highly publicized squads in each style, but then will bet a lot of other games where those same styles are in play and they don't know it!
*They don't know the "impact" players outside of the handful of guys that ESPN is always hyping. Yes, if North Carolina is on TV, you know who the big guy in the middle is. Some may be able to scroll down the top ten in the rankings and name the best player on teach team. Go down to the teams ranked 15th to 25th. Look at the "also getting votes" list. Can you name the best players on those teams? Will you be able to name the stars on the "bubble" teams in a few weeks (those ranked around 40th to 50th in the nation)? There are sports bettors in Las Vegas who will put big money on the "bubble" teams without being able to name a single player on the roster.
*They don't know which teams are overachieving or underachieving expectations so far. Pointspread records can give you some very clear insights into which teams are confusing the betting markets. It's not a matter of being hot or cold. It's about general public not realizing how good or how bad somebody is. WE should know!
Put those pieces together. How could it even be possible to win if you don't know the strengths and weaknesses of teams, the styles they play, who their impact players are, and who the betting markets are having trouble deciphering. Those are the fundamentals of handicapping and marketing analysis, and many sports bettors aren't even making a minimal effort at the basics!
Demand more of yourself!
Now that football season is over, make a concerted effort to study college basketball. I know there are a million teams. Focus on your local conference, your alma mater, or the teams you like to watch on TV the most. Bite off a chewable hunk of college basketball and really sink your teeth into it! Read the boxscores, study internet stat resources, watch games you DON'T have a bet on with the volume down. Make notes of which teams defend well and which don't. Learn the difference between a team that can work for a good shot and one that just launches the ball and hopes it goes in. See what happens to game tempo when fast teams play each other, and when slow teams go head to head.
Picking college basketball winners requires doing the right work. Doing no work at all makes it impossible!
If you take a few days to do that now, you can make some very good money the rest of February and all through March Madness. Big basketball games are won by fundamentals. If you know the fundamentals, you'll know who's most likely to win the big games. That means you'll thrive in:
*All the big superpower showdowns in conference play that are on the February schedules.
*The conference tournaments that promise new levels of excitement this year, particularly in the loaded ACC and Big East conferences.
*The NIT, where some of the easiest pointspread winners of the year are available every March.
*The NCAA Tournament, which is the single biggest sports betting event on the calendar until the 2010 Super Bowl.
Look in the mirror. You know you're going to bet those games and events anyway. Aren't you tired of juicing out or losing because you're not doing the homework it takes to pick winners? Separate yourself from the pack. Sportsbooks are full of losing bettors who think their failures are just bad luck. I know different. I know what separates winners from losers in the sportsbooks, and on a basketball floor.
Get to work, and you'll understand those differences very quickly yourself!