This week, noted college basketball statistical guru Ken Pomeroy wrote an article for Deadspin saying this year’s college hoops season is on pace to be its slowest ever.
In case you missed it, this is an absolute bomb shell and is the kind of information that every college hoops bettor must understand before laying another bet.
Through the first 923 games of the Division 1 season, games were averaging 66.9 possessions per 40 minutes. This isn’t far off from two seasons ago – which was the lowest scoring season since 1952 – when possessions averaged 65.9 per 40 minutes.
That was the season that prompted college basketball to change its foul rules to call fouls on defenders more liberally, especially when players are in the lane, in hopes of promoting more scoring and driving to the basket.
College hoops introduced the new rules last year and it gave sportbooks fits in the early going. Limits were dropped to new lows and some books wouldn’t even release totals until just before game time in fear of hanging a bad line out there.
“Early (season), middle, late. Honestly, they’re all a nightmare,” Scott Kaminsky, line manager at TheGreek.com, said in an interview earlier this college season. “The hardest thing for books to beat are totals. It’s a weakness for us all year round. But in the beginnings, the players have the edge.”
And it’s under players this year who’ve had the edge in the early going. As of Wednesday, Dec. 3 before games were played, the under was cashing in at 55.47 percent in games that had a posted total in college hoops. The number grew even higher to 56.32 percent for games that lasted only 40 minutes and didn’t go to overtime.
That’s a seriously high winning percentage in sports betting terms and enough to return you a tidy profit if you’d been blindly betting the under all season.
So what can we take from this as bettors?
Considering that possessions per game have gone down progressively over the course of the season every year since 2003, we can see that this season doesn’t have far to go to become the most snail-like ever.
That means we’ll likely see even less scoring that the current average of 67.1 points per game that Division 1 teams are seeing so far this season.
That doesn’t mean you should blindly go out and start betting the under on every game that comes along. But you should probably be at least considering the under first when approaching college hoops totals when you’re doing your handicapping in the short term. That’s especially true if you’re someone who typically likes to play the over, and let’s face it, most average bettors prefer to take the over.
It may take you a little out of your normal handicapping routine but good handicappers need to be able to adjust as the season wears on.
That said, this trend will turn. In every sport, every year, we almost always see favorites & underdogs and overs & unders work out to around a fifty-fifty winning percentage. Oddsmakers are just that good and they make it impossible to blindly bet one way or the other all season long and come away with a profit.
So the other thing I’d advise is to be on the lookout for the tide to turn and games to start having a tendency to play over. Oddsmakers will inevitably adjust their lines and teams will adjust their play to adapt to the current flow of the game and the calls being made.
And if you’re keeping a close eye on it, there’s some money to be made this college hoops season.