Avoid The Rankings Trap In College Hoops Betting

Many people tend to place a lot of emphasis on college basketball rankings. When betting, they tend to refer to these rankings to drive their betting decisions as well. However, oddsmakers are well aware that some teams are more popular with the public compared to other teams. As a result, oddsmakers will often shade lines in their favor (against the more popular team) in hopes that bettors would be willing to lay more points, making it more difficult for them to win. In this article, we’ll take a look at why you should avoid the rankings trap when it comes to college basketball betting.

Rankings = Public Opinion

College basketball rankings (AP Top 25 and Coaches’ Poll) are often quite subjective. While some voters follow the teams closely and have seen the majority of these teams in action, other voters take on more of a qualitative approach when assessing rankings as opposed to a more quantitative approach. Factors such as preseason expectations and the prominence of traditional basketball programs may push teams much higher (or lower) than their true place in the rankings. Additionally, since the voting is regionally based, there will likely be some extent of inherent biases. If you can assess this information and understand how oddsmakers are shading their lines, you’ll be able to compare these numbers with your own power ratings to figure out where the most value lies.

Power Ratings = Better Indicators

While voters do not do a poor job overall on rankings, following subjective analysis will not be enough to make sound bets when it comes to college basketball with the intent of profiting. With a fine line between winning and losing when it comes to betting, bettors would be well-served to know with better certainty how schools really stack up based on more accurate power ratings from experts. Two power ratings – Sagarin and Pomeroy – are quite comprehensive and reflective of the actual strength of teams. These power rating systems use advanced statistical metrics to determine where teams should rank in relation to one another. As the season progresses and more data is fed into the models, these power ratings only get more accurate.


As an example, suppose that a 23rd ranked team in the AP Top 25 poll is playing an unranked opponent on the road as an underdog. At first glance, many people would mistakenly believe that there’s value to be derived from betting on the ranked team, even though they are playing on the road. However, when you really take a closer look and perform more detailed analysis, you may quickly uncover the fact that the oddsmakers have made the ranked team an underdog for a reason. Perhaps this ranked team is more like the 40th best team in the country and as a result, their ranking is overstated. The ranked team may be slightly overrated, resulting in their higher-than-usual ranking. As always, it’s important to come to your own conclusions on betting decisions as opposed to being skewed by rankings. Rankings should only serve as one piece of the puzzle and help guide (somewhat) your betting decisions. By no means should you ever solely adhere to the rankings of teams to guide your betting decisions. This will be a sure recipe for disaster in the long run.