Upsets in college basketball are part of the landscape. With a collection of still developing young men, both physically and emotionally, sometimes, for any number of reasons, they are really ready to play and other times not.
When you have a situation where opposites attract, a favorite not ready to play, versus an inspired underdog, that is when upsets occur.
For our purposes, let’s determine a very specific situation.
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Though sports betting talk is more relaxed in the media marketplace, not every television or radio personality is a gambler. You still hear about highly teams being “upset” even when they were favored or a one or two point underdog, which is hardly a “major upset”. What we will talk about is teams losing as double-digit favorites or the opposing squad winning as the same kind of underdog.
Predicting these outcomes is never easy, but doing the research after the fact on both teams is where you can find a difference.
Essentially, there is two kind of upsets, one that is fluky and the other that says something about both teams.
A fluky upset can be a last-second shot to win, an underdog who cannot miss and shoots 60+ percent or the favorite has an off night and connects on about a third of their shots.
As far as the fluky upset, it is often best to write those games off for both teams, particularly if there was no indication coming into the contest that was worth consideration. Chances are, both will return to – normal – the following game and often the sportsbooks point spread will be a strong indicator. In this case, the favorite will be out to make amends, while the underdog cannot the match same emotions and intensity and falters in the next outing.
The other aspect might be the beginning of a long or short term trend. After such an outcome for a favorite or underdog, start digging into the numbers. Prior to the upset, had the better team not been covering as many spreads and seen a dip in shooting percentage (both 2’s and 3’s), committing more turnovers or been exposed on defense more regularly? Or even had they overcome the loss of key player or two and the opponent that just beat them fully shown a real weakness going forward?
Concerning the team that had caught the points. Had they been quietly been rounding into a better team, losing but beating spread? Had a starting player returned from injury and he was the glue that made them a better unit?
Answer these type of questions correctly and you can win both bets on both teams in their next contest.
Coaching Matters and So Does History
Another element to understand is the head coaches. In the college game, players might catch our attention, but they come and go. Quality coaches are the face of the program and their skill in understanding what just happened, which they have faced numerous times is frequently key in what happens next for his team. Does he practice them harder and they respond or does he take the reins with a light grip and massage them to prepare better for the next encounter? Top coaches understand their team dynamics and have shown in the past by their records, they know how to bounce back and are a safe bet.
Others in the lead seat either lack the experience or are just ordinary in their profession and create situations of high and low performances from their teams. Winning as an underdog is a great story, but losing the next two games when they were favored, often has a negative impact and leaves more questions than answers.
Any basketball bettor can stack the odds in their favor in this precise situation if they are willing to do the work.
Doug Upstone wrote this for ScoresandStats.com