Handicapping the Final Game

By Loot, NCAA Basketball Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

College Basketball Betting: Handicapping the Final Game

The final game of the tournament is our last chance to handicap college basketball for a while. Let’s try to end the season on a high note by accounting for some details that could sway the spread in our favor. Some of these topics will hopefully enhance your perspective when betting on the NCAA tournament finals.

Remember it’s a one-game deal. Outside of the sport of football, there aren’t a lot of team sports who decide their championships in this manner. This isn’t meant to imply that better teams don’t win in a one-game scenario, but let’s just say that if something weird were to happen, it would more likely take place over a one-game-spread. In a seven-game-series, the cream is more likely to rise to the top.

Let’s not forget to account for the pressure. The moment can be too much for some people. Even a 15-year NBA player would have to call on all his powers to not crumble at least a little bit from the pressure-cooker that is this game. Combine the immense pressure with the youth of the players, and there could be an impact.

In college basketball, younger and younger players are becoming more focal parts of the team in recent years. The result is that you have kids whose breath still smells of milk put into the most pressurized game in sports. What other single game, with the possible exceptions of football’s BCS Championship or Super Bowl, is more pressure-filled than the NCAA Tournament final? And in basketball, you don’t have 40 other guys to camouflage your mistakes. It’s a lot to ask for a young lad.

We need to account for fatigue. Come finals time, the rigors of the long season, the conference championships, and what it took to just get to the finals can start adding up in a bad way. Teams may get a little break before the Final Four, but the Final Four is only two days separated from the final. During that time, young men are run ragged with media and all the other draining elements that come with the territory.

When you’re in a championship game, adrenaline will play a role. What it won’t do, however, is carry a team throughout an entire game. Look to see which team is more liable to have a second-half letdown. Look to see if one of the final teams might have left something on the floor in a draining Final Four game. Or if their road to the Finals required a herculean effort that might leave them depleted at the precise time they need to kick it into overdrive.

So look for which team might be able to wear out their opponent. You might have an underdog team that is so high-tempo, you can’t help but think their style might give their favored opponent trouble. Maybe one team has a style of team defense that really drains their opponents. With fatigue playing a role, you want to look for match-ups that could leave a team spent in the final half or ten minutes of the final game.

Let’s not forget about the dynamic of the wagering on this game. It’s a betting frenzy. There is only one game remaining. All the efforts of the handicappers and bettors is now boiled down to one game. It has everyone’s attention. This means there are some opportunities for us to find value that wouldn’t be there in a January game, for example.


We know the general betting public and what they tend to bet. They like favorites and tend to bet on the “over.” This won’t always be the case, in the event that two teams are pretty well-matched in terms of excellence, their national fan base, and how much coverage they generally receive. But in some cases, there will be one team that has a robust following, facing more of a regional team. Or one team is just a strong favorite for whatever reason.

The favorite will usually get more of the betting attention. With fans craving fireworks, the same can be said for the “over.” So let’s say you handicap the game and your insight leads you to want to bet the underdog or the “under.” With a lot of money going on the favorite and the “over,” there might be some enhanced value if your handicapping leads you take the opposite sides.

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College Basketball Betting

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