A Totals Situation Worth Watching For In College Conference Tournaments
The most exciting time of the college basketball season has arrived as the college conference tournaments (CCT's) begin followed by postseason tournaments and the big dance, NCAA Tournament. Also in play the final weekend of the regular season are big games with regular season conference titles at stake as the major conferences play their regular season finales.
The college conference tournaments (CCT's) provide another great opportunity to put our long-proven profiles and situations in play as we also continue our solid fundamental analysis and statistical profiles of the players and teams. Coaching profiles and personalities along with their strengths and weaknesses continue to be evaluated, along with injuries and related situations surrounding the teams. Note that as some of these teams lose in the conference tournaments, they also lose out on their dream and preseason goals of playing in the NCAA tournament and/or postseason party. So keep that in mind as the emotional component of analyzing teams and handicapping situations is in play for teams that qualify for the NIT and other postseason tournaments.
You're going to see many underdogs and some ugly puppies giving their biggest efforts in conference tournaments. Regular season results mean much less as the CCTs begin. Many players and teams will lay it all on the line knowing a trip to the NCAA Tournament is the reward for the conference tourney champion. Such was the case on March 2 when underdogs went 10-6 ATS with four of the teams winning outright to advance.
But while much of the focus in college conference tournaments and post season play is on the teams and betting line, here's some information that may prove profitable for you as you analyze and bet totals at the sports books. As teams advance and play back-to-back games with no rest, their confidence grows and intensity increases. This is often reflected on the defensive end of the court as teams play harder with more at stake in this one-and-done format. Playing multiple days in a row can also affect energy, and often shooting struggles can follow with less lift in the legs. Add in familiarity of playing these conference teams during the regular season and we often see more defensive stops as coaches also know the opposing players and coaches tendencies.
So here is some positive proof for totals bettors looking for a solid situation to support. Keep in mind that scoring was at an all-time low two seasons ago with teams averaging approx. 67 points per game (PPG). So the NCAA adopted rule changes on block/charge plays, physicality and reduced the shot clock to 30 seconds. The goals of the rules changes and officiating points of emphasis were to improve the pace of play, better balance offense with defense and reduce physicality to create freedom of movement on the court.
The result last season (2015-16) was teams increased scoring to 73 points per game, and is holding steady again this season (2016-17). Total number of possessions also increased from 65 to 70 following the rule changes.
Now the more athletic teams with deeper talent have a clear advantage over less talented opponents. Fans and the NCAA wanted to see more scoring and they have, along with slightly more fouls per game (19).
However, the information written here and also provided below should make sense when evaluating and betting college conference tournament totals.
What we're looking for is an underdog in conference tournament play who is off a straight-up (SU) underdog win, playing with no rest (next day).
During last year's CCT's (2016), this situation produced an over/under record of 11-15 (58%) using 17 top conference results. However, in conference championship games, the UNDER was 4-1. These games included Villanova over Seton Hall 69-67 (Big East), Buffalo over Akron 64-61 (MAC), Hawaii over Long Beach 64-60 (Big West), No. Iowa over Evansville 56-54 (Missouri Valley) and the only total OVER in Green Bay's 78-69 win over Wright State (Horizon) in which both teams upset to top-2 seeds to reach the championship game.
It appears that with teams playing 3 or 4 straight days and able to reach the championship game off underdog wins, the energy level is unsustainable, which can lead to tired legs and perhaps less shooting strength. Clearly defensive focus is at its peak level in a championship game as well.
Previously using a total parameter of nearly 120 points, this situation hit at nearly 60% UNDER the total with a sample size of nearly 300 games since 2007. But with scoring increase, I adjusted and documented SU underdog winning teams in their next game with no total parameters while noting the strength of a short sample size in championship games.
A sub-situational profile to strengthen our base premise and profile shows that if the game profile with our underdog winner shows both teams playing over the total in their previous game, then we have a stronger position playing under the total. That produced a 3-0 UNDER the total result in last year's championship games with all six teams in the Big East, MAC and Big West championship game playing semi-final games over the total.
With history as our guide and technical parameters in place that make some sense, look towards some of these totals situations to boost your bankroll in conference tournament play before the NCAA tournament begins.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay