College Basketball Betting: Conference Vs. Non-Conference



In college basketball, the year really boils down to three different seasons – the non-conference schedule, the conference schedule, and the postseason, which includes the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament. In this article, we’ll focus on the first two – the non-conference schedule and conference schedule.

Betting On The Non-Conference Schedule

As a general rule of thumb and especially in basketball, home-court advantage is quite important, regardless of whether the matchup is a non-conference matchup or a conference matchup. On the flipside, home-court advantage may also be quite overvalued in some games. As a result, there may be value lurking on for the road team. It’s important to be able to sift out the matchups where home-court advantage is either undervalued or overvalued.

In terms of non-conference games, teams typically make use of these games to add to their resume while building some confidence and cohesion heading into their conference games. However, due to the lack of history between playing against non-conference teams along with roster turnover from the previous season, handicapping these games become slightly more difficult compared to conference games. As a result, for non-conference games early on in the season, handicappers must usually rely on their knowledge about a team from the previous year along with the relevant statistics.

One thing to be aware of in non-conference games is with mid-major teams. Since these teams aren’t as established or well-respected as teams from the powerhouse conferences, they usually have something to prove. While teams from the power conferences may look to coast in non-conference games while not playing as hard, mid-major teams will be looking to make a statement and what better way to do so than beating a team from a power conference. Additionally, securing a win over a big program may be all that a mid-major team needs to book a ticket to the big dance.

When betting on non-conference games, a common but mistaken theory is that betting on home underdogs usually make for good wagers. However, the fact is that small road favorites tend to be better bets than home underdogs in these types of games.

Betting On The Conference Schedule

Compared to the non-conference schedule, the conference schedule is a different beast. With a long history, the teams and coaches are very familiar with each other and factors such as respective playing styles, rivalries, motivation, and the revenge factor may all play into which team wins against the point spread. Additionally, it’s also important to not forget about the hard statistics along with the fact that conference games tend to bring out the best in feisty underdogs, especially when the underdog is playing a hated rival on their home court with the support of their fans behind them. Handicapping conference games becomes a lot easier especially for teams that don’t have as much of a roster turnover as teams that are stacked with one-and-done freshmen. With a continued roster longevity, this makes it slightly easier to forecast how a team will likely perform in the following season as well as how their players will likely develop and grow.

When it comes to winning your bets in college basketball, it’s important to differentiate between non-conference and conference schedules as differences between these two types of games will make for differences in how you approach your betting strategies.