College Basketball Betting Tip: Ranked Teams Undervalued in Season-Openers

Nov 06, 2018 8:47 PM EST
  • The 2018-19 college basketball season tips off on Tuesday with 18 games featuring Top 25 teams.
  • Using Bet Labs, we’ve identified how ranked teams perform in Game 1 of the season.

College basketball is back with a new season tipping on Tuesday. We’ve shared the best betting systems for the 2018-19 college basketball season, but unfortunately there are no matches for opening night.

Since we know you will be betting, we thought we’d share a simple strategy for Game 1 of the season.

Usually it’s a bad idea to bet on top 25 programs. Since 2005, ranked teams have gone 4,570-4,621-174 (49.7%) against the spread (ATS) in the regular season.

A $100 bettor would be down $30,039 wagering on top 25 teams.

However, in the first game of the season, ranked teams have smashed. Since 2005, ranked teams have gone 125-93-4 (57.3%) ATS in openers. Why do top 25 teams perform better in Game 1?

My theory is that while teams have been practicing, there is no substitution for true on-court competition. Teams may struggle early in the season as they learn to incorporate new schemes and players.

The best programs, usually the most talented with superior coaching, can overcome these disadvantages and succeed when players first lace up their sneakers.

While betting ranked teams has been profitable, there are two steps we can take to optimize this strategy:

  • Avoid top-25 matchups
  • Concentrate on heavily bet games

Any advantage the best programs in the country have from talent and coaching would be neutralized against a top 25 opponent. By targeting games against unranked teams, our win rate and units won increase.

When betting on college basketball it is important to focus on heavily bet games. These contests attract the most recreational bettors, which can often lead to inflated lines.

Since 2005, in heavily wagered games top 25 teams have gone 59-33 (64.1%) ATS when facing an unranked opponent.

It’s not a huge sample, but the results have been consistent. In the past 12 seasons, only twice has this system had a losing ATS record.

As of Tuesday morning, we are only tracking a few thousand bets per game. Most gamblers will place their wagers closer to game time, which means we won’t know the heavily bet games until late afternoon.

While we wait for the betting market to take shape, here is a list of every game featuring a top 25 team against an unranked opponent on Tuesday:

  • No. 5 Virginia vs. Towson (7 p.m. ET , ACCNE)
  • No. 6 Tennessee vs. Lenoir Rhyne (7 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • No. 8 North Carolina vs. Wofford (7p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 9 Villanova vs. Morgan State (7 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • No. 16 Syracuse vs. Eastern Washington (7p.m. ET, ACCNE)
  • No. 22 Clemson vs. The Citadel (7 p.m. ET, ACCNE)
  • No. 24 Purdue vs. Fairfield (7 p.m. ET)
  • No. 19 Michigan vs. Norfolk State (8:30 p.m. ET, BTN)
  • No. 23 LSU vs. SE Louisiana (8:30 p.m. ET, SECN+)
  • No. 3 Gonzaga vs. Idaho State (9 p.m. ET)
  • No. 11 Auburn vs. South Alabama (9 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • No. 17 Florida State vs. Florida (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 21 UCLA vs. Fort Wayne (9 p.m. ET, PAC12)
  • No. 25 Washington vs. Western Kentucky (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 7 Nevada vs. BYU (11 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • No. 14 Oregon vs. Portland State (11 p.m. ET, PAC12)
Credit:

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: North Carolina Tar Heels forward Luke Maye

Follow John Ewing on Twitter
@johnewing

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