Before we know it, the 68 best college basketball teams in the nation will step onto courts throughout the country to participate in the annual NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament. Because the tournament is just about here, we thought it a great idea to get down to business regarding how to make money backing teams to cover spreads in the NCAA Tourney. Check out 5 handicapping tips that can help you determine which plays to make so you can plan your bets against the March Madness.
5 Tips for Handicapping the NCAA March Madness Tournament
2023 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament
- When: March 14 – April 3
Back defense first teams to cover over offensive juggernauts
We only have to look at last season’s National Championship game to illustrate this tip. The North Carolina Tar Heels built a 15-point halftime lead over the Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas, the better defensive team, came out in the second half and dominated. This season, the top team in the nation, the Houston Cougars, are a defense first squad. Don’t be surprised if Houston covers in every game on their way to the national title.
Teams with great guard play often cover spreads
The reason Houston is a juggernaut team to watch to cover the spread during the NCAA Tournament isn’t just because the Cougars are the best defensive team in the nation. Marcus Sasser, who many believe is the top player in the country, is a Cougar.
Sasser is also a guard. Teams with excellent guard play, especially point guard play, excel in the NCAA Tournament. The best way to use this angle is to look for teams with improved guard play.
So if Kerr Krissa at Arizona cuts down on his turnovers in the Pac-12 Tournament, Zona might be a team to watch to cover spreads in the NCAA Touirnament.
Consider style of play before deciding not to back an underdog to cover
Style of play means a lot. Iowa, as an example, won the Big Ten Tournament last season. But the Hawkeyes lost to Richmond, a guard heavy squad that played a much more up and down style than Iowa.
If it comes to a matchup between a mid-major with fast, hot shooting guards, and a Power 5 team that relies mostly on an inside presence, consider backing the mid-major to cover. Often, the Power 5 team becomes surprised at the mid-major team’s speed.
Teams that play well in their conference tournament sometimes bounce in the NCAA Tournament
Kentucky, who finished third in the SEC Tournament, lost to St. Peter’s in Round 1. Teams that play well in their conference tournament don’t always carry momentum into the Big Dance.
Handicap coaches as much as you handicap teams
Coaches that have proven they can get their team ready for the NCAA Tournament always have an edge. One caveat to this rule, though, is you must think about recent history.
Ten seasons ago Coach Cal at Kentucky and Tom Izzo at Michigan State were great tournament coaches. Recent history suggests they aren’t anymore.
Tommy Lloyd at Arizona, Hubert Davis at North Carolina, Kelvin Sampson at Houston, and, of course, Bill Self at Kansas showed last season that they could ready their teams for deep NCAA Tournament runs.
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