March is the time of year that sees many new bettors flock to the world of college basketball, whether it’s the frenzy of opportunities in the conference tournaments or just the thrill of filling out a field of 64 bracket. The conference tournaments are a team’s last chance to get in, or just to improve their seeding (which doesn’t mean all that much anyway). But teams can also be set up for a letdown. Once their either in, or had to exert a lot of energy and emotion playing several games in back-to-back days, seeing a flat spot is quite common, even in the post season when its win or go home. It’s just human nature, as well as dealing with 18-21 year old kids.
So what should you look for when handicapping these types of games? With conference tournaments, it is multiple games played a row. With the NCAA tournament, it is the single game elimination and the pressure that comes with it. Another is they are played on neutral sites. Some teams are totally different away from home. A third is that teams aren’t subject to the ebbs and flows of the season. There are no let downs or looking past weaker teams. All games are played in front of a national audience. Finally, teams will be facing good competition in every game.
You may now be asking yourself: what kind of teams succeed in these types of situations? The first is experience. In the age of one and done, teams that have a solid nucleus together for 3 or 4 years usually fare well in March. Next is bench play. With games being played every other day, and the emotional stress that goes with that, having 3 guys off the bench you can count on can be key, especially since teams are stepping out of conference and aren’t used to the officiating in the NCAA’s. A couple of cheap fouls can change things drastically. Finally, look for the following statistically: These put teams in the top 1/3 of all NCAA teams
• Defense: 42% or less from the field
• FT Shooting: 70%
• Rebounding: 33 or more per game
• Assist/TO ratio: 1.20 on offense and .90 on defense
This is one of those years where there is an overwhelming favorite in Kentucky. Which teams have all of these that could upset the Wildcats: Villanova, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Good luck and enjoy the hoops