Find Value by Betting Early Season NCAA Basketball Totals
Editors Note: This article was originally published on November 20, 2014.
The College Basketball season tipped off last Friday with a slate of highly forgettable matchups. This is largely due to the fact that early in the season, there are typically only two types of games:
- Tune-up games for major conference schools, which frequently feature spreads of 20+ points (i.e. Duke vs. Presbyterian)
- Neutral site tournament games featuring two major conference schools (i.e. Syracuse vs. California)
While the David vs. Goliath type games are typically avoided by bettors, these early season tournaments (Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Charleston Classic, 2K Sports Classic [North Dakota and New York], Paradise Jam [Virgin Islands], Coaches vs. Cancer Classic [New York], Maui Invitational, etc.) are almost always the most bet games of the day.
What’s particularly interesting about these tournaments is that almost all of them are played during the month of November, and that got us thinking. We know that the under has been historically undervalued, but that edge had to be amplified in these early season tournaments. After all, playing in a marquee (typically televised) matchup on a neutral court can place a lot of pressure on teams with limited experience playing together.
Our hypothesis was that nerves would get the best of these young-student athletes resulting in lower-scoring games and more games going under the total.
To test this theory, we utilized our Bet Labs software to create a new College Basketball betting system. We quickly saw that since 2005, the under has gone 14,726-14,430 (50.5%) during the regular season. While this represented a slight edge, it doesn’t come close to covering the -110 juice charged at most sportsbooks.
The next step was to apply a newly added “neutral court” filter. As you can see from the screenshot below, this simple addition paid immediate dividends:
Not only did we determine that it’s profitable to bet neutral court unders during the regular season, but also during the postseason (which includes conference tournaments, the NIT and the NCAA tournament). However, our interest lies in these early season tournaments meaning the next step was to use the “game month” filter to focus on all neutral site games played during November.
This simple addition led to a 644-555 record (53.7%) with +49.43 units earned and a 4.1% return on investment (ROI). Essentially we were able to maintain the same number of units won, while reducing our overall sample size by roughly 37%.
While we have already created a winning betting system with a large sample size and strong driving hypothesis, there was one more historically profitable betting trend to layer onto our system. Past research has revealed that the under tends to be a better bet in games with high totals, while the over tends to be a better bet in games with low totals. The logic here seems fairly self-explanatory as it’s obviously easier to hit an under when oddsmakers are projecting a high-scoring game.
To test this, we added the “closing total range” filter to see how the system changed as we gradually increased the over/under.
|Closing Total Range||Record||Winning %||Units Won||ROI|
Our results indicate that there is a direct correlation between the closing total and our return on investment, as the ROI continually escalates as we increase the closing total range. The highest number of units won coincides with totals of 130+; however, the return on investment isn’t nearly as high as it is at other data points.
The largest ROI coincides with totals of at least 155, but due to the small sample size (98 games) this range is not completely trustworthy. For that reason we would recommend betting on neutral court unders when the total is at least 145. That range has produced a 203-146 record with +44.94 units won and a 12.9% ROI.
We offer a 6-day Bet Labs trial for anybody interested in creating their own winning College Basketball betting systems, but Pro customers have full access to our Best Bets and Bet Signals along with real-time odds, public betting trends and much more. Bettors can also follow this system and receive email/text message notifications by copying it from our new and improved Bet Labs Think Tank.
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11/27/15 Update: This system went 10-4 (+5.32 units) during the 2014-15 season and has gone 48-34 (+9.74 units) this season. Overall it has gone 261-184 (58.7%) with +60.00 units won.