NCAA Basketball Betting: Focus on Small Conferences
If you're familiar with college basketball betting—particularly the March Madness tournament—you've probably found yourself most attracted to bigger schools and conferences. We're not here to tell you to stop. We do, however, have an alternative strategy worth exploring, one that entails placing bets on smaller-conference matchups. In this space, you'll learn all about the following:
- Why betting on smaller conferences matters
- Tips when betting on lesser-known schools
- Mistakes to avoid in these situations
- Complete 2019 NCAA National Championship odds for smaller schools
Please note that any futures odds we provide come from Bovada and are accurate heading into the start of the 2018-19 NCAA season. Check these lines frequently before placing wagers, as they will be subject to mid-year shifting.
- 01Betting On Smaller NCAA Conferences
- 02Tips For Focusing On Smaller Conferences
- 03Best Small Schools For 2018-19 Season
Betting On Smaller NCAA Conferences
This is the one-stop shop for everyone who's looking to find out more about small-conference betting in college basketball. From what it entails to all the potential benefits, we've got it all.
What Does It Mean To Focus On Smaller NCAA Schools?
The Big 12. The Big East. The ACC. The Big 10. The SEC. You've heard of these conferences if you've ever placed a bet on college basketball. They house some of the most well-known and elite programs, and bettors are inherently drawn to schools that live in the public eye.
There's nothing wrong with this. More information tends to be available for these schools, because they're so accessible. But journeying off the beaten path can become a good thing.
This is where small-conference focuses come in. Gamblers turn their attention to schools in The American, Mountain West or Atlantic 10 conferences, among others, to try gaining an edge over the sportsbooks. It's that simple. You're spending time and money on schools that aren't as popular. End of story.
Why Bet On Smaller-Conference Matchups?
Oddsmakers have less of a grasp on collegiate sports than professional contests. That's a fact. The field of participating teams is so large and the talent pool so diluted that it's impossible for them to be as precise in their projections.
This holds true for college basketball. Sportsbooks are usually pretty good at gauging the bigger, more marquee schools, but they're not analytical experts on tinier programs. This, in turn, arms bettors with the chance to become an expert on smaller schools and then spot discrepancies in spreads, moneylines and futures odds.
For example, let's say Fresno State, a member of the unheralded Mountain Conference, enters the season with a win total over/under of 9.5. Having studied their roster and statistics from last season, you know they're more likely than not going to obliterate that projection. You're now able to make a confident investment in their over—a decision that wouldn't be so easy if you were looking at a top-shelf school from the ACC or Big East.
Tips For Focusing On Smaller Conferences
Before you dive fully into smaller-conference focuses, please consider these tricks of the trade to help you maximize your bets.
Parlaying Small-Conference Favorites
One of the benefits of focusing on smaller conferences is that it's easier to spot what we call "foregone-conclusion favorites" in single games. These are essentially teams that are so much better than their opponent, be they a conference foe or another squad, that it wouldn't make sense to bet against them.
Typically, when dealing with lesser-celebrated schools, there are more than a few foregone-conclusion favorites every week. By parlaying all of their moneylines together, you're minimizing your risk while maximizing your potential return on otherwise non-lucrative bets.
Granted, as with any parlay, you need to be correct on every winner you pick, lest you lose the bet entirely. But that's the beauty of smaller conferences. Upsets are less likely when dealing in heavy favorites, because you're usually encountering larger talent variances. (I.E. The gap between UNLV and San Jose State in the Mountain Conference will be way bigger than the ground separating Duke from UNC in the ACC.)
Take Small-Conference Focuses Seriously
This is a big one. Don't just dive head-first into teams you don't know much about.
If you really want to capitalize on the benefits of small-conference betting, you need to actually study your subjects. Treat an Air Force-Wyoming regular-season matchup just as seriously as you would a Duke-UNC affair.
The more information you arm yourself with, the more likely you are to gain an edge over the sportsbooks.
Best Small Schools For 2018-19 Season
Consider these dark-options from small schools as you navigate the NCAA's futures-betting field. Remember: These programs should be viewed as mega-long shots, as they likely won't earn a top-25 ranking at any point over the regular season.
Best NCAA Title Odds For Small-Conference Schools
- American Athletic Conference: Cincinnati (+850)
- Pac-12: Washington (+22500)
- Mountain Conference: San Diego State (+22500)
- Atlantic 10 Conference: Davidson (+35000)
- Mid-American Conference: Buffalo (+100000)
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