Everyone’s pumped up about March Madness as they should be, but the smart leaners out there know that the best way to make money is to bet NCAA conference tourney games during championship week. The reasons are fairly simple, but none are more important than building your bankroll heading in to the national championship tournament itself.
For something that is dissected as much as it is, you’d think that we’d have a better understanding of March Madness but the truth is that we don’t. There are two basic ways to look at the tournament: on one end you have the vacuum thinkers who just look at a matchup as it exists within the context of the 2014 season. Then there are those that look at the historical trends and bet on the fact that the “8th seed has beaten the 9th seed x-percent” and that’s all there is to it. And as you’d imagine there are a million degrees in between those two basic ways of thinking where most people fall in to.
The point is that March Madness can be considered the Equalizer. It doesn’t care about seeds or stats or trends. It’s an unpredictable monster of a machine that chews up everyone – from gamblers to schools to players themselves – and can be callously soulless about it. But it’s also a stage where heroes and profits can be born. We bet on the joy of victory, the frustration of an upset and the chance for something great happening (mostly, our pockets getting lined with lots of money).
So to survive March Madness, you need insulation. You can’t just put ten bucks in your account and say “let’s see how this goes”. Some need more and others need a lot more. It all depends on personal preference. But what you can do is what all of the smart people do; try and play with the house’s money. This is where the whole concept of “building your bankroll” came from. Take a little cash, turn it in to a lot of cash and use it to maximize the opportunity in the biggest games of the year.
This is where Championship Week comes in for most bettors. The smart and savvy don’t just wait and pray for luck in March Madness. Instead, they bet NCAA conference tourney games during championship week with straight plays, a couple parlays and some smart futures investments to increase their wallet to Costanza levels so that they have that oh-so-important March Madness insulation.
So why is the opportunity during Championship Week there? First, there’s a lot more games on the board which means that the attention of the oddsmakers is spread extremely thin. Sure, they have computers and nerds on their side but tracking the action from the smaller conferences is an impossible task. We almost always focus on the Big 12 and the ACC, but did you know that Cleveland State went an unbelievable 20-8 ATS in the Horizon League this Year? This is the kind of stuff I’m talking about. You don’t go where the herd goes, you go where they aren’t and somebody made a ton of cash on Cleveland State this year.
Championship Week betting can seem kind of crazy, but the matchups are also much easier to digest as a gambler because these teams know each other. A Maryland-Gonzaga matchup is great on paper because it hardly every happens…which means it’s harder to bet on. But when you have a thirty year history of Gonzaga-BYU matchups to draw from as you bet on conference tourney matchups in Championship Week, it’s simply much easier. Heck, it’s easier for the simple fact that intra-conference teams have played each other this year!
Those blood rivalries also give the matchups a ton of vitriol, which means something in and of itself. If you don’t think that Duke wants to beat the hell out of UNC then you’ve been living under a college basketball rock for your whole life. Wanting to win games is different than knowing that you can win them. Harvard “might” win in March Madness depending on who they play, but they’re definitely going to kill everyone in the Ivy League. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils split the regular season series as well. Knowing that a team can overcome a certain opponent simply because of familiarity makes attacking the Championship Week betting lines a lot easier.
Games are already in progress, but most of the bigger conferences haven’t gotten started yet. If you want to bet on conference tourney games, then head to the sportsbook right now and check out all the juicy game lines and sides. Here are four matchups I’ve earmarked for Thursday that will help give you an inside track on increasing that always-important March Madness buffer you’re looking for.
NCAA Conference Tourney Games During Championship Week
Kansas State Wildcats over Iowa State Cyclones (12:30pm EST)
This is one conference tourney matchup you’re going to want to set your alerts for. KSU wiped the floor with ISU the last time they met, and the game was in the Cyclones’ building. Most people don’t trust the Wildcats in general, and I don’t blame them with a 2-5 ATS run in their past 7 games. But they’re a matchup problem for Iowa State
Houston Cougars over SMU Mustangs (1pm EST)
I don’t know if Houston can really do enough to bet SMU straight up, but I know that they can cover this matchup. They’re less than one month removed from a four-point loss to these very same Mustangs, and it’s not like SMU has a ton of momentum. In fact the Mustangs have plenty to lose if they can’t perform well in their own conference tourney games. Houston will be a double digit dog in this game or close to it, and they’re worth backing here against a Mustangs team that is falling out of favor with the betting universe very quickly.
OSU Buckeyes over Purdue Boilermakers (2:25pm EST)
You shouldn’t trust OSU long term by any stretch, and they’re nowhere near as reliable as the other big name programs from the Big Ten, but against Purdue specifically they’re a great take. You can feel confident betting this conference tourney game during Championship Week because OSU simply never loses to Purdue. And when they win, they almost always win big.
UConn Huskies over Memphis Tigers (9pm EST)
Even after watching UConn get completely destroyed by Louisville last weekend, I still love the resolve of the team. Listen, they’re not a great long term bet and they were getting murdered on the road by a great team. That happens. What I did like is how they kept fighting back, thing to claw their way closer to tying the game. It was just Louisville’s day. As long as UConn and Shabazz keep a positive attitude, they’ll right a ship that’s gone 7-3 SU in their last 10 games. I know that UConn is a bit of a mess in terms of spread record, but nearly every team in the AAC is. You’ll definitely want to bet this NCAA conference tourney game with the program that’s simply far more consistent when it comes to knockout style games. That’s UConn if you were still wondering.