Tony George of TonyGeorgeSports.com has a look at the upcoming March Madness and what’s in store for gamblers.
All the hype around March Madness and field of 64 is one of the most popular sporting events to bet outside of the Super Bowl every year. Guess what, oddsmakers know it and the lines are sharp and /or tricked out, but other post season tourneys have huge value, especially when measured against the Big Dance, and there are numerous reasons why. I have been extremely successful in the NIT Tourney over my 25 year capping career, and in the past 2 years overall I was a Top 10 ranked March Madness capper and in 2014, I was the #1 ranked March Madness Capper overall at 71% ATS at Sports Watch monitoring service. I included many NIT and CBI selection’s in those high percentage winning years and you should too.
The NIT Tourney is not on a neutral floor tourney until the Final 4, which has always been at Madison Square Garden. That means higher seeded teams in the bracket have home floor games, which is huge. There are a lot of 17 to 22+ win teams in the NIT (South Carolina was 24-8 in 2016 and was in the NIT as a #1 seed in their region) whose RPI was just not good enough to get in the big dance, and the main reason for that, if you take a close look at teams with that many wins, is the fact they lost on the road to good teams all year. Bad road teams are a fade in this tourney, bar none. Home court is worth a full 3 points.
Another factor here is the NIT Tourney in many ways is like the College Bowls, there are teams excited to be playing in the post season and there are other teams who are disappointed to be there and many times do not give a 100%, or overlook some small mid-major team because they are from a BCS Big 5 conference. Many of these teams simply think they are superior to some team with 18 wins from the Mo Valley or Sun Belt conference, despite their coach telling them different. Laying big numbers with big named teams against what many perceive to be a weak sister is a recipe for losing your bankroll fast. Those smaller schools want to knock off a big named school, have no illusions. Anyone remember the final 2 teams last season in the NIT (2016) by chance? It was George Washington from the Colonial Athletic Conference and Valpo from the Horizon conference. Not a Big 12 or ACC team in sight guys!
Another long standing handicapping rule of mine has always been, less is more. With games spread out like the NIT schedule allows, you have more time to handicap a game and more time to single out best bets when there are only 2 to 4 games a day and they skip many days in between. You can narrow your choices and nail down a good selection. Spreading bets around all over the place in the post season is not wise, and just like college bowl games, the post season is a different animal and discipline and lower volume betting is advised because the totally unexpected happens.
You also find that teams in many cases are “peaking” at the right time, which is to say a particular team have started out 6-11 for the season, they ripped off 12 straight wins before losing in a conference tourney and enter the tourney with momentum and confidence after a poor start to the season which threw them out of the Big Dance consideration, but they carry that momentum into the NIT tourney. You need to look at these teams very hard and see what lines they are given in the first round or two. Many times a team like this goes on the road in the first round against a big name school from the Big 10 or PAC 12 and knocks them off, and surely getting 6 points or more is worth serious consideration as a good underdog play.
Heavy betting volume in the Big Dance causes headaches for any handicapper with 48 hours or less to assess your best bets in the first two rounds, and the fact is the public and even oddsmakers tend to ignore these smaller post season tourneys which leads to some softer lines and less of a “public” line. Oddsmakers place premium lines on big named teams simply because of the sheer betting action they attract on those games, especially on primetime TV like the March Madness is.
These smaller tourneys provide much less volume and thus some more fair lines to work off of in my opinion. Vegas is going to spend a lot more time and do public perception based lines on teams like Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, Michigan State, Gonzaga and many other public darling betting teams because they get the lion’s share of the action, so the lines are inflated and tricked out many times. They set a line on St. Mary’s playing San Diego State in the NIT on their power ratings alone and leave it up to anyone who wants to do their homework to make the right choice and in many cases there is value in the line with situational analysis and recent trends in this scenario.
One other small tidbit to remember, what gives team success in the post season, also gave them success in the regular season, and still to this day stand true anytime of the year when handicapping fundamentals for college hoops. Good guard play is absolutely key anytime, especially in the post season. I especially like teams with lower turnover ratios and the better free throw percentage in the post season as well. How many times have you seen a team seal it away or give it away at the charity stripe when the line is hovering around 4 or 5 points and at games end cannot knock down free throws to cover the number. Always try and have those things on your side.
By no means pass on the March Madness Big Dance in terms of sports betting, there is opportunity for those in the know, however by-passing the NIT and CBI Tournaments is a bad betting mistake and it is well worth the time to dig into them and fatten your wallet.
Tony George was a documented Top 10 March Madness Handicapper EACH of the last 3 years. Be sure and check into Tony's action and the Best cappers in the nation, 100% transparent, guaranteed, and documented at www.tonygeorgesports.com