If basketball is your sport of choice, then the NBA and NCAA seasons offer many opportunities to make some cash. In the NBA season alone, 30 teams each play 82-game seasons – when you do the math, it definitely adds up.
In the NCAA, there are 33 Division I conferences and a total of 351 teams in those conferences. Each club plays about 30 games in the regular season. Plus, there are conference playoffs and, of course, March Madness!
Between the pros and college, there are thousands of opportunities to make bets. Hardly a day goes by that you don’t have two or three premium wagering opportunities. It’s mind-boggling.
This makes it very important for the sports bettor to understand some of the major differences between the pros and college, and how these differences may affect your wagering. Here are five differences that you need to keep in mind when switching between NBA and NCAA basketball betting.
One major difference between the NCAA and NBA is the fact that college hoops teams play out of conference games. These games are loaded into the first part of the season. Often, there are major mismatches as a club from a powerhouse such as the Big 12 takes on a club from the Big South.
As an example, if Kansas plays Virginia Military, you’re going to see the Jayhawks posted at a major deficit. That may throw you off if you think that they can’t possibly win if the spread is 30.5 points. The truth is, they have a good chance of winning by more than that. Take some time to carefully handicap the game to see if Kansas is a good bet.
Interestingly enough, some games in the NBA offers big matchup problems too, but it’s not the same as the NCAA. In the college game, there are fewer chances for an upset in non-conference play than there are in the NBA.
What is important to note (and maybe fairly obvious) is that in the NBA, every game counts in conference and division standings – even the non-conference ones. In the NCAA, non-conference play is listed and figures in national rankings, but it has nothing to do with a team’s standing within its conference.
In the NBA, there are teams that will lose fewer than 25 games a season, but they may cover only about 40% to 50% of the time. These dominant teams may, at times, be worth betting against when you take the points. Get to know these clubs well. Carefully analyze each of their games prior to wagering. There will be only three or four such clubs, so you can really focus on them and wager on their games throughout the season.
You’re also going to have dominant teams in the NCAA. In fact, you’ll have more than you do in the NBA. In conference play, they may lose only two to five out of 20 to 25 games. Interestingly enough, they will tend to lose to more out of conference teams. The lesson here is to beware of dominant teams in non-conference play, especially when the spread is big and they are on the road. Dominant teams tend to do a lot better at home.
Don’t be thrown by the disparity in totals between NCAA basketball and the NBA. Pro totals will be higher for a few reasons. Professionals play a total of 48 minutes, four quarters, while college hoops offers a game with two 20-minute halves, making it 40 minutes long.
In terms of median shot percentage, the NBA leads. However, there are usually somewhere around six or so college teams that in terms of percentage outshoot the best shooting NBA team. That’s from both the three-point arc and the floor. But remember, the NBA has a faster game and a longer amount of playing time, by eight minutes, which means they get off a lot more shots. The result is that you should expect the totals to be higher for the pros.
Yes, you need big guys in the NBA, but they are, overall, fairly plentiful. Not so in college hoops. Tall, skilled players are gold in NCAA basketball and they usually end up playing for the top teams. Think about it: the NCAA has over 300 teams and the NBA 30. Obviously, the dominant upfront guys will be spread thin in the NCAA, and if they are amazing players, they will be in the pros in a year or two.
Teams and the Bench
In college basketball, one player can be a major difference maker. In the NBA, it usually takes two or three starters to make a major difference. Still, in either league, look to bet on teams that have two to three top starters and a decent bench. That sixth and/or seventh player in college hoops can be huge due to the fact that there are so few really good ones. In the NBA, they are important if they can give the major players some time off during a game and throughout the very long season.
One final note: NBA teams change very little from year to year. If there’s a major deal between teams in the NBA, pay attention. In college hoops, teams can change a lot from season to season, as some players will leave early and others will graduate. Some college clubs are able to attract talent and groom them, and they can step in and up as the starters leave. Still, always be careful when the new NCAA season starts, as last year’s powerhouse could be average this year.