The NCAA tournament is set to begin and I couldn’t be more excited. Look, this is the time of the year where everyone comes out of the woodwork to place bets. It doesn’t matter if they know anything about college basketball. It doesn’t matter if they watched any of the first 30 games of the season. All that matters is that this is the biggest sporting event of the year and they want to get in on the action.
Bracket pools are the first way that’s done. Even Warren Buffett was involved a couple of years ago when he partnered with Quicken Loans to offer a $1 billion prize for anyone who was lucky enough to fill out a perfect bracket.
If you work in an office you are likely going to be in your own office pool. What’s the trick to winning? Not taking the same team to win that everyone else is. This year Kansas and Michigan State are the two teams everyone is on. What about Virginia or Villanova? Those are two teams that are very good yet only a small percentage of people will be on them. If one of those teams do win, you won’t have to stress about every other game the first couple of weekends. If you pick them and they win, you likely take home the pool.
What about futures bets? I think the same applies here. Most of the action Vegas books are going to take will be on the favorites. If you take a team that is less likely to win they might have better odds than they should. Virginia and Villanova are both getting 12 to 18-to-1. I think that’s excellent value and will be putting a small coin down on each.
How about the individual games? That is where the fun is. There is non-stop action all day Thursday-Sunday, but my word of warning is don’t get sucked into needing to have action on every single game. I know it’s exciting to have four games going at once and flipping back and forth between every single game.
Here’s the thing though, every game won’t show value. I think you’ll typically find 2-3 games per day on the schedule that are worth a bet. Which ones will those be? It’s tough to tell if you don’t get into the matchups. I like looking at matchups. What teams have a goofy style. Syracuse always comes to mind. They have a 2-3 zone that is very unique. If a team hasn’t seen it before, they are going to struggle.
How do teams do against pressure? If they are playing a team that likes to pick their opponents up full court, that’s especially important. Does a team not take care of the ball go up against a team that turns their opponents over? Does a team allow outside shots against a good three-point shooting team? Those are what you have to look at. Don’t fall into the trap of seeing a small school going against a big school and thinking Cinderella doesn’t have a chance.
Whoever you end up taking and however you join in on the action, have fun and make some money this March!