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Accurately Predicting NCAA BB Spreads Before Vegas Does…and How to Use it to your Advantage

I can predict 90% of major conference college basketball opening spreads to within 1.5 points before Vegas releases those lines.  For the purposes of this article, I consider the major conferences to be the following: American, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West, PAC-12, and SEC.

You’re probably saying, “Spectacular, but how can I use this information to my advantage?”  And to a lesser extent you might be wondering “How do you do it?”  I’ll answer the last question first (very briefly) and the first question last.

 

How do I do it?

Without giving away the full details,  the predictions rely on a few different things, the most important of which are: advanced metrics, home court advantage, and injuries.  These are, without a doubt, the same types of things Vegas is considering when they set the opening spreads.  I’m not saying they are following the exact same track I am.  There are certainly variations.  And I’m glad there are because these variations are the key.  They are what we want to focus on to answer the “How can I use this to my advantage?” question, so let’s get to it.

How can I use your predictions to my advantage?

Every person looks at spreads differently to try to get an edge over Vegas.  They answer questions like:

  • What are the teams’ records?
  • Which team is playing better?
  • If the two teams have played before, what was the result?
  • Are there key injuries?
  • Who ranks higher according to BPI, Kenpom, Sagarin, etc.?
  • Are there matchup deficiencies?

…and the list can go on and on.

I’m not going to focus on these questions because these are things Vegas has also considered, and they’ve done it better than you or me because they have the resources to do so.  So what should we focus on then?  I’ve said I can predict 90% of spreads to within 1.5 points of the opening line.  The key isn’t the ones I predict correctly.  It’s the ones I don’t.  For every spread I’m off by at least 2 points, those are the ones that should catch my eye, that I should be betting the hardest.  It may seem intuitive to bet the side of the line that fits in line with my prediction, but what I’m suggesting is the exact opposite.  Take the Vegas side!  It’s likely not everyone is following what I’m saying, so let’s lay out an example to make this a bit easier to understand.

On Saturday, I expect Tennessee to be favored over Kentucky by 3.5 points.  Let’s say when the opening lines are posted in Vegas Friday afternoon that Tennessee is instead favored by 6 points.  Intuitively, i should want to bet Kentucky, right?  I’m saying betting Tennessee will be more fruitful in the long run, and here’s why.

I have done all of my research for this game, research that allows me to predict 90% of lines to within 1.5 points.  Vegas has also done similar, but more exhaustive and inclusive research and, in my example for the Kentucky vs. Tennessee matchup, has arrived at a line that is significantly different than my prediction.  Who do you think has the more complete knowledge, the insider knowledge of this matchup?  Me or Vegas?  I’d be flattered if you said me, but you’d be wrong.  It’s undoubtedly Vegas.  While it may be difficult at first to go against our prediction, the other side of the line is most definitely the play.  In this example, you would bet Tennessee -6.

Now, enough about the method and the reasoning.  Let’s see this in practice.  The following are Saturday’s predictions.  The team on the left is the road team, and the team on the right is the home team.

 

LSU Alabama LSU -2.5
NC St FSU FSU -7
Michigan St Indiana Michigan St -8.5
Kansas Ok St Kansas -7
Syracuse Wake Forest Syracuse -9
Mississippi Arkansas Ark -1
Penn St Wisconsin Wisconsin -9.5
WVU Oklahoma Oklahoma -12
Ohio St Purdue Purdue -9.5
Kentucky Tennessee Tennessee -3.5
Iowa St Texas Texas -1
Butler Villanova Villanova -8
Pitt Virginia Virginia -23
S Carolina Missouri Missouri -2
Miss St Auburn Auburn -4.5
Miami Duke Duke -20.5
UCF Houston Houston -8.5
TTU TCU TTU -4.5
Rutgers Iowa Iowa -9.5
UNC Clemson UNC -4
Utah Colorado Colorado -7
Vanderbilt Texas A&M Texas A&M -6
Air Force Wyoming Air Force -1.5
Seton Hall Georgetown Georgetown -2
Wash St California Wash St -1
Memphis Cincinnati Cincy -9.5
Baylor Kansas St Kansas St -5
Georgia Florida Florida -13
Nevada Utah St Utah St -1
Colorado St New Mexico New Mexico -2.5
Arizona Oregon Oregon -5
SJSU SDSU SDSU -20.5
Boise UNLV UNLV -2

 

Come back Friday night for the actual opening lines as well as my picks based on the deviation of prediction vs. actual opening line.

 

Happy Friday!

Dana Roller
I'm a sports nut and a numbers guy who likes to write.
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