While the Super Bowl is the biggest single-day sports betting event, the NCAA basketball tournament actually takes in a higher volume of wagers. Sports fans and bettors embrace the excitement of March Madness each spring. There are many aspects to consider before wagering on college basketballs showcase event.
When the college basketball season begins in November, over 300 division 1-A schools start the year with a certain goal. All of these teams hope to wind up in the NCAA tournament. In the end, only 68 schools will get a bid to the tourney.
Four Stages of a College Hoops Season
There are four stages to a college hoops season. First, there are the non-conference games in November and December. Teams use these games to build some momentum heading into conference play. The conference games are the second stage of the season in January and February. In March, the next stage occurs with the conference tournaments. The three initial stages are factored together to determine which 68 teams will get to advance to the fourth stage. The final stage is the NCAA tournament. Each stage has some unique aspects for the bookmaker and bettor to consider.
Early in the season, major conference teams will play a lot of home games against minor conference squads. These are viewed as tuneup games for the big schools and a chance for the minor conference clubs to compete against elite teams. In the first two months of the season, teams will usually play at least a couple of games at a neutral site. These holiday tournaments enable schools to get a taste of the atmosphere that is yet to come in March.
Once conference play starts, teams will play an equal number of home and away contests. The homecourt advantage in college basketball can be quite significant. Generally, the home team is given about 4 points in the line. At certain college arenas, the noise and atmosphere can intimidate the visiting teams. Many college squads will have great disparities of play from home to the road.
Once the regular season slate is complete, the conference tournaments get underway. More often than not, these tourneys are played at neutral sites. For most of the smaller leagues, the conference tournament is critical. In these leagues, the only NCAA bid will come from the winner of that conferences tourney. In the major conferences, several teams will get NCAA berths. So, the conference tournament isn’t as important in these leagues.
NCAA Tournament Team Selection and Scheduling
The 68 teams that are selected for the NCAA tournament are comprised mainly of teams from major conferences. Typically, about 20 clubs from minor conferences are in the field. After four opening games, the field is reduced to 64. The teams are broken into four regions of 16 teams and are seeded. Once the field is set at 64, the real frenzy of March Madness begins for sports bettors. From Thursday through Sunday, there are a total of 48 games. By Saturday, the field of 64 is cut in half. By the end of the weekend, there are just 16 teams left in the field. The Thursday through Sunday schedule is also in place for the round of 16. At the end of these games, the Final Four is set.
On the following Saturday, the national semifinals are held at a domed stadium that can seat over 50,000 fans. The winners on Saturday advance to the national title game on Monday night. When the initial pairings for the tournament are announced, the bookmaker will face a bit of a challenge on some of the lines. Some of the schools from the smaller leagues aren’t booked too often during the regular season. While the oddsmaker is used to setting lines for major conference schools, he isn’t accustomed to creating odds for some of the minor conference squads that are in the tournament. The bookmaker will look at some power ratings and scoring averages to come up with some solid numbers for the smaller schools.
The bettor should take a look at how the smaller conference teams fared in November and December against the major conference schools. Because the NCAA tourney is a single-elimination tournament, there are no second chances available to the teams in the field. So, there is an urgency for teams to win that isnt necessarily there during the regular season. Without any homecourt edges to factor in, the bettor can focus his handicapping on the true abilities of each team. March Madness can be enjoyable and profitable at the same time for fans and bettors.