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NCAA basketball betting - mid-majors vs. majors

Posted by Washington Tucker on 5/2/2012 9:36:17 AM

Any sportsbook can tell you that NCAA basketball betting is in full gear, but the main focus for bettors is the March Madness tournament. In many ways, it’s easier to handicap the regular season version the Tournament.

Right now, as teams go through conference play, they are all facing familiar opponents. They square off with each other a couple of times per year and they know each other’s tendencies.

What makes the NCAA tournament so fun and intriguing is we get to see a mixed bag of matchups that we don’t normally see when you bet on NCAA basketball.

One of the biggest storylines of the tournament is how the big schools matchup with the smaller programs. In many situations, the average online sports betting handicapper just assumes that the big school is superior for NCAA basketball bets because it’s a brand name. Those who have followed the Tournament and NCAA basketball betting for a while know that’s not exactly the case.

Mid-majors play in small conferences, play against weaker foes and usually don’t have the same talent as rich schools. They are also in the national spotlight fewer times since television networks like ESPN and CBS would rather show the brand names as opposed to mid-majors.

But mid-majors shouldn’t be overlooked. They aren’t dominant for NCAA basketball betting purposes, but every year there is at least one who is upending a bracket or bet.

For a mid-major to be successful deep into the Tournament, it needs to be a perfect storm. For starters, they usually have better team chemistry. In a major program, there is more talent but there are more egos and, often times, more personalities who are pulling in different directions.

For a major school like North Carolina, half of their players might have their eye on the NBA, while the other half might be more focused on winning a championship.

A small program’s team is going to be very cohesive. Most of the players on a mid-major won’t be playing in the NBA and, for most of them, this is the highest level of basketball they will reach. So for them, their focus is clear: they want a championship.

Although the talent disparity is what makes the major schools big favorites in NCAA basketball odds, the team that pays off with NCAA basketball betting and wins is the team that usually wants it more.

Other factors included outside of passion for the game and team chemistry is coaching.

Most coaches pay their dues in small programs, and if they are successful, the big schools pluck them away. So just because you haven’t heard of the coach for a mid-major doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Mike Krzyzewski used to coach at Army and Jim Calhoun used to coach Northeastern, so don’t underestimate anyone.

Lastly, most successful mid-majors have at least one standout player. He may not be a star, but in terms of NCAA basketball betting, the team has to have one guy who can – at times – carry the team.

Some examples from the past include schools like Davidson, who relied on Stephen Curry, or Villanova, who relied on Ed Pinckney.

Just keep in mind next time you’re betting on NCAA basketball that if you’re taking the favorite, they should have clear advantage over the underdog—i.e. the small program—in every category. The NCAA Tournament is so popular because an underdog or two always finds a way to shine. Everyone likes a Cinderella story, but just make sure you’re doing homework and not betting against them.

For more on NCAA basketball betting odds and for all of your online sports betting analysis and picks, visit the

Washington Tucker was practically raised at Rucker Park. Though a freak knee injury cost him a major college basketball scholarship, his “sixth-sense” on the hardwood has translated into a spectacular career in basketball handicapping.



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