When someone bets on sports, especially major sports like football and basketball, they will often use two numbers to make their wager; the first being the point spread and the second being the total amount of points scored by both teams in the game. The spread is often times referred to as the ‘over/under’ because it indicates whether or not the spread will exceed (the over) or fall short (the under) of a certain number. For instance, a ‘-2′ 10 would mean that the total amount of points scored by both teams in this particular game will fall between 20 and 28.
But what does this number mean specifically in relation to college basketball?
As a matter of NCAA rules, any team that scores 2,000 points in a season is classified as a ‘major college team’ and is allowed to play in the ‘NCAA basketball tournaments.’ Most teams will either get hot towards the end of the season and score a lot of points or will struggle to score at all and will keep the score low. This makes point spreads for the final games of the season a lot more exciting, as there is more of a chance that the over or under might go over the number entered into the spread.
In the 2019-20 college basketball season, the 10-game conference winning streaks (combined with one or more teams in each conference being a ‘champion’) that were started last season appear to have come to an end. In the last 10 games of the season, 12 of the 24 highest-scoring games were decided by one point; seven of those games were decided in the final minute. There were also nine one-point victories and two games that went to overtime. In addition to that, the average points per game in these high-scoring games was 101, which makes it the third-highest scoring season in the 45-year history of the NCAA basketball tournament. With the season coming to an end, point spreads for the last games of the season are now available. Since it’s unlikely that any of these low-scoring games will continue beyond the postseason, the over/under number for these games tends to be rather low.
What About Those Odds?
To place a bet on college basketball, the first thing one needs to do is determine the odds of each team winning the game. To determine these odds, one would need to look at the over/under numbers of each game and determine what those totals would mean in terms of winning percentage. It’s crucial to remember that these are simply odds and do not guarantee any profit; they simply indicate how much one would need to wager to achieve a certain level of profit. For example, if one was wagering $2 on every game and the total points scored were 40, then one would need to win 41 games to break even (assuming there are no ties).
Since the start of the 2019-20 college basketball season, the spread for games between top-25 teams was largely even, with 16 of the first 32 games having the over/under number within one point of zero. But as the season wore on, the spreads began to widen, with only nine of the final 32 games having the over/under number within one point of zero. These numbers illustrate how much the spread changed throughout the season. Some of the widest point spreads were between top-10 teams, with the over/under numbers in those games ranging from 4.5 to 7 points. This is likely because both teams were evenly matched and did not have an obvious strength, leading to small betting gaps in most games.
One would assume that with the season coming to an end and the winning streak broken, the gaps between the top-10 teams would close. But that’s not the case as the gap remains the same; this season, there are still 10 teams separated by one point (9.9 to be exact). From a betting standpoint, this makes the last few weeks of the season rather interesting, as the teams closest to the top will have to play each other to determine who will be playing for the championship. The winner of the Big Ten and the Big 12 championship games will play in the 2020 Tournament of Roses for the right to play for the National Championship.
A lot can change in 10 weeks, as the season is now coming to an end. But a few things remain the same. First, the gap between the top teams in the country and the rest continues to grow. Second, teams do not seem to have a clear advantage over the other in terms of sheer talent, with the top players often times being touted as one of the best in the country at their positions. And last but not least, the close games are now a thing of the past, as 12 of the 24 highest-scoring games came down to the final minute. This is likely a symptom of both teams being evenly matched or one team being significantly better than the other. In those situations, the game will be close and exciting until the very end. But as the season has now come to its close, the excitement is no longer attached to the game. Thus, making it less interesting to bet on. In the final analysis, betting on college basketball is always an interesting venture, but the 2019-20 season appears to have less appeal than in previous years.