Contrarian Betting – 2012 Kentucky Basketball

  • Kentucky Basketball: Loved by the Public, Hated by Aestheticians

It’s finally the month of March, and the college basketball madness that ensues is right around the corner.

Conference tournaments begin next week, marking the official beginning to March Madness. Linsanity will give way to Bracketology and the yearly argument over Virginia Tech’s bubble bursting.

Following Selection Sunday, work productivity hits its annual low point, as offices everywhere become obsessed with identifying this year’s 12/5 upset, even though the secretary who picks her favorite mascots is destined for bracket greatness.

As public exposure increases, we see more money backing the top teams and heavy favorites, meaning there are good opportunities for contrarian bettors to find value.

With their #1 ranking and Player of the Year candidate Anthony Davis dominating highlight reels, the public continues to pound Kentucky, who sports an impressive 28-1 record with wins over Kansas, North Carolina and Louisville.

In the 27 games for which we received College Basketball Betting Trends Data, the Wildcats have received more public action than their opponent 23 times.

Note: Sports Insights did not receive public betting data for the games against Radford and Arkansas-Little Rock, so these contests were not included in our research.

Not surprisingly, three of the games in which Kentucky received fewer than 50% of spread bets came against North Carolina, Florida and Louisville, other ranked-teams and perennial favorites of public bettors as well.

The graph below shows the spread wagering action on Kentucky so far this season:

Despite being a favorite of the public, Kentucky has struggled against the spread (ATS). Bettors simply fading the Wildcats have won at a rate of 59.4% ATS.

When adding betting percentage and point spread filters, that winning percentage becomes even greater.

Our analysis of Betting Against the Public in College Basketball shows that contrarian betting has historically been profitable when playing on double-digit underdogs that are receiving 40% or fewer of spread bets.

Bettors applying these criteria to Kentucky’s 27 games this season increased their win rate to 64%.

We also found that Kentucky has been greater than a 19-point favorite, while receiving more than 60% of spread bets, nine times. They failed to cover the spread in seven of those games.

The table below summarizes the win rates when betting against Kentucky at three betting percentage and point spread levels.

Betting Percentage Point Spread Win Percentage
All All 59.4%
Fewer than 40% 10.1+ 64.0%
Fewer than 40% 19.1+ 77.8%

* All betting percentages in this article represent Sports Insights’ College Basketball Betting Trends.
** Point spreads used to determine ATS records reflect closing lines from Pinnacle.

We understand that drawing conclusions based on results from one of 344 Division I college basketball teams is not uniquely significant, but this data correlates with our research and results from all games since the beginning of the 2008 college basketball season.

With March Madness quickly approaching, square money is preparing to flood the market, presenting opportunities for contrarian investors and those willing to bet against heavily-favored teams like Kentucky.

At the time of publication, Kentucky is receiving 60% of spread bets as a 19-point favorite for Thursday’s game against Georgia, so be sure to keep an eye on the betting trends and spread for this game for a possible contrarian betting opportunity.