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5 Questions New NCAA Basketball Gamblers Need to Answer


When I work with a new sports gambler, the two leagues I recommend starting with are NCAA basketball and NCAA football. Many things go into this reasoning, but they usually boil down to which leagues offer the fastest path to profitable wagers.

Here are five questions that every new college basketball gambler needs to answer. The answers to these questions are a big reason why NCAA basketball is such a great place for new gamblers to start. Once you finish this page, you’ll be ready to start placing wagers on college basketball games.

1 – How Do I Evaluate Upperclassmen Against One-and-Done Players?

College basketball is somewhat unique because the best players don’t stay in the game beyond one or two years. This creates a challenge because experience also influences how well players perform. Sometimes, a third- or fourth-year starter performs better than a freshman who only plays one year before leaving, even if the freshman is going to be drafted much higher than the veteran player.

The NBA is more interested in talent than numbers at the college level. If you doubt this, consider how often the top scorer in NCAA basketball is drafted #1 in the NBA draft.

Talent is important when you’re evaluating NCAA basketball games, but the fact is that you shouldn’t care about the NBA and how they view talent. You have to learn how to evaluate players for the current season and upcoming games.

Experience can make up quite a bit for a gap in talent, but it only goes so far. This is why these evaluations are so tricky. But you’re going to struggle until you learn how to evaluate both groups of players.

I’ve learned that experience usually trumps young talent in crunch time, but that talent can put a game out of reach before crunch time. If a team is talented enough to stay in the game with more experience against a more talented team, the team with more experience is a good bet to cover, especially when they’re getting points.

2 – Is Recruiting as Important as in College Football?

Recruiting has reached the point where it’s dominating college football. If a NCAA football team can’t recruit, they can’t compete at the highest levels. But is this the same in college basketball?

Recruiting is important in NCAA basketball, but it’s not quite as important as in football. The top coaches in college basketball are able to get more out of their players, especially if they have them for four or five years, than other coaches.

As I mentioned in the first section, the top recruits often leave after one or two seasons. This helps the best coaches that miss out on the top recruits stay competitive.

You’re going to learn more about this in another section, but I’ve found that it’s more profitable to work as a gambler with conferences that aren’t getting the top 20 or 30 recruits in the nation. I still use recruiting rankings when evaluating teams in these conferences, but the difference is that these teams have a better chance to keep their recruits and develop them fully.

This is valuable information you can use to evaluate college basketball teams, players, and games. When every team in the league you’re evaluating keeps their players for four seasons, the recruiting rankings on the league are more valuable because the most talented teams still tend to be at the top of the standings.

3 – Why Is Beating the Sportsbooks in Big Conference Play So Difficult?

I’ve already covered a couple of the reasons why it’s hard to beat the sportsbooks on a consistent basis when you’re gambling on big conference NCAA basketball. The difficulty in evaluating players of different talent levels and experience is very important, and the big conferences make this even more challenging.

You’re working on a more level playing field when you focus on medium-sized conferences and smaller conferences.

Another big issue is how the sportsbooks set lines in each conference. Sportsbooks set lines to make money. This might seem simple, but you have to understand this at a deeper level than most college basketball gamblers.

Online sportsbooks accept risk every time they set a line on a college basketball game. The amount of risk is directly tied to the handle on each game. The handle is how much betting action the book takes on a game.

The games with the biggest handle represent the highest risk if the line isn’t set in a way that generates close to equal handle on each side of the game. If the sportsbook makes a mistake and most of the action comes in on one side of a game with a big handle, the sportsbook can lose a lot of money.

On the Other Hand

If the book makes a mistake on a game without a large handle, their risk is much lower. This is because of the lower amount wagered on the game as a whole.

What does this mean for you as a college basketball gambler?

It means that the sportsbooks don’t always set lines on small and medium conference games as well as they do on big conference games. Where do you think you should focus on finding lines that have value? The answer isn’t betting on big conference NCAA basketball games.

4 – Can I Evaluate College Games the Same as NBA Games?

Many of the basketball betting strategies that you use to handicap NBA games are the same as the ones you use to handicap college basketball games. But the two sports leagues do have some differences for sports gamblers.

In the NBA, Positions Almost Don’t Matter Anymore:

Centers and dominant big men used to be the main way to build a championship caliber club in the NBA, but this has changed a great deal.

Teams can win NBA championships with a great center, and even without dominant big men. The league has been taken over by guards and small forwards that can score from beyond the 2-point line and the best one know how to play good defense as well.

In college basketball, traditional positions are more important. NCAA basketball teams can still win with a dominant center and/or big men. Most college basketball teams still use a traditional point guard. While in the NBA, a wide range of players can bring the ball up the floor and run the offense through them.

The talent level from one team to the next in the NBA is much closer than in many college basketball games. Even though there are clearly good and bad teams in the NBA each season, the truth is that the talent gap is much larger in most college games.

Learn how to identify these differences and use them to evaluate NCAA basketball slightly differently than you handicap NBA games.

5 – How Important Is Home Court in NCAA Basketball?

Home court advantage is important in college basketball, just like in every other sport and league. But a mistake that many new NCAA basketball gamblers make is using overall home court advantage numbers and ignoring individual teams and match ups.

Consider the following situation. A top five team in college basketball is traveling to play a middle of the pack small market team. Let’s say they’re playing at a MAC team that’s near the top of the conference, but isn’t going to win the conference.

The MAC team has a 27-game home win streak.

Which team is going to win this game?

Somewhere around 98% to 99% of the time the top five team is going to win the game. The 27-game home win streak doesn’t mean anything when a team is clearly dominated by the talent of the visiting team.

On the other hand, when the MAC team is facing another MAC team, the home court advantage is real. Hopefully, you can see the difference in the two scenarios.

And this is the kind of trap you need to avoid as a beginning college basketball gambler. You have to evaluate each game individually, and not allow things like normal home court advantage influence your evaluations.


You’re making a good choice as a new sports gambler starting with NCAA basketball. Once you identify the differences between handicapping NCAA basketball games and NBA games, you’re well on your way to making profitable wagers.

If you follow the advice you learned from the five questions on this page, you’re going to find many profitable games and college basketball lines offered by the sportsbooks on small basketball conference play and medium-sized basketball conferences. This is really the big secret when it comes to making a profit gambling on NCAA basketball games.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. …

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