Using College Basketball Polls In Your NCAAB Odds Handicapping

Written by on November 9, 2016

For the most part, polls of any kind are a creation of the media, which are largely based on popular opinions and subject to hype about on-going events with tidbits of truths to make them believable. As such, a good number of polls give good projections about teams that are primed for breakout seasons and downfalls (see the 2016 NFL preseason polls about Oakland’s breakout and Cleveland’s struggles). The projections from the polls are, however, not always right (see the many polls that suggested Hilary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential elections by a landslide. Yikes!). So, how then can we separate the truths from the falsities in polls and use them to our advantage in sportsbetting? That, indeed, is a broad question with limitless answers, but we will do our best by summarizing the most proven strategies when it comes to specifically using college basketball polls in handicapping NCAAB odds and lines.

A Closer Look At How To Use College Basketball Polls In Your NCAAB Odds Handicapping


Overly Hyped vs. Underrated Teams

Every season, you will most likely find perennial national contenders like Kentucky, Oklahoma and Duke Blue Devils receiving plenty of votes in the early polls, and in a good number of occasions, these teams go on to validate their high placement in polls by performing well and making the elite eight or even the final four. Sometimes, however, such teams are not usually as strong as projected in the polls due to player transfers and turnovers into the NBA. On the flipside, other small or underrated teams may be bringing back an experienced group or may have benefited from good recruitments that aren’t being highlighted well-enough by the media. To ensure that you don’t overly buy into the hype or lower your expectations due to underrated polls or media coverage, be sure to study the teams for yourself and take keen note of all the personnel changes in the team, from the coaches to the players, along with trends that may have been developing from the previous season(s).

Impact of Wins and Losses on Polls

In most cases, a bad loss by a high-ranked team at the start of the season is never the best of signs, especially if the loss comes against a low-tier school that didn’t even play well in that game. If you come such across such a team, it is always advisable to wary about being high on it, unless it proves itself to be worthy of your trust in the college basketball lines. On the other hand, if the loss comes against a good team, particularly in conference play, then there’s probably no reason for you to start panicking. By the end of the season, nearly all teams—including the best ones that eventually win the NCAA Tournament—typically have a couple of losses in their résumé and you must be ready to accept that and use the knowledge to advise your NCAA basketball bets.

Risers and Fallers in Polls

One of the most important things to keenly take note of is the manner in which team rise and fall in the polls. At the start of the season, things are usually a bit clouded as there are many unknowns, but as soon as we hit conference play, certain trends usually start to show strongly in regards to the strong and weak teams. And as you’d expect, the legitimately strong teams will most often see their placements rise in the rankings as the pretenders and weaklings go down in the polls. Rather than just focus at the top and big-conference teams where everyone tends to fixate on, it is strongly advisable to pay attention to the entire poll, including teams from the small conferences. A sharp drop by a strong-conference team may be an indicator that things aren’t going on well for that team just in the same way a significant rise by a small or mid-level conference team (even if it is not ranked in the top-25) means may mean that such a school is making commendable progress no wonder it’s getting decent votes in the ball. Having such information can be of priceless value to you in your NCAAB handicapping.

Strength of Schedule vs. Polls

The NCAAB schedule for teams in the nation is usually distinctly diverse and is based on several factors, including game watchabilty, time zones, travel plans and nature of a conference, among others. As a result, certain teams may have their ‘easiest’ games at the start of the season while others may have their ‘easiest’ games to close the season, with others having a mixture of everything. So, just because a team has won its first 8 games of the season and is ranked well does not mean it will finish the year strongly in the polls. For all you know, the unbeaten run may be because of its soft schedule to start the year; something that will change as the season progresses. Similarly, an iffy start to the season may be based on a tough schedule, which changes in due course of the year. Assessing a team’s strength of schedule is therefore very crucial if you are to have a clear picture of the NCAAB polls, including teams that are likely to rise and drop as the season progresses.