Handicapping College Basketball Rivalries



Watching a game between rival college basketball programs is one of the most exciting aspects of college basketball. Furthermore, this makes wagering on rivalry games all the more fun as well. Few atmospheres in sports can match what occurs in a matchup of fierce rivals. Typically, rival college teams play each other once or twice in a season, unless they meet up later on in a conference tournament or the NCAA tournament. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to approach handicapping college basketball rivalries, considering factors such as the experience of returning players, fan intensity, and media type, which makes these types of games much different compared to a typical college basketball game.

Home Court Advantage

One of the biggest factors in rivalry games boils down to emotions. As a bettor, you’ll have an edge is you can take them into account and handicap for emotions accordingly. Typically, home-court advantage may be worth three to four points on the spread. However, in rivalry games, the effect can be much greater than just three to four points, with frenzied fans adding extra fuel and motivation to the home team. Take the classic rivalry for example – Duke vs. North Carolina. Some people tend to argue that Duke benefits the most from playing on their home court and as a result, it’s crucial to take into account the venue of where the rivalry game is played.

Past History

In addition to quantifying the home court advantage, it’s also important to get a feel for how these rivalry games have played out in the past, both in terms of the final result of the game as well as the result on the point spread. To do this, a bettor should evaluate historical matchups, recent meetings, and the progression of the programs involved in the matchup. Since college basketball tends to experience high turnover year-over-year, it can be a rare sight for a player with superstar potential to be around for more than one year. However, if these superstar players decide to stick around, it’s important to take this into account. Furthermore, a bettor should break down how these two rival teams have moved through their respective schedules. An example of a question that should be in the minds of bettors should be whether the teams have matured and improved and whether the teams have shifted strategies and changed lineup since the two rivals’ previous meeting.

In college basketball, things can also change very quickly in that a school can improve dramatically over the course of only a few months by signing on one, two, or even three top recruits for the following year. A team that was once on the outside looking in for the NCAA tournament may suddenly find themselves being labelled as a national championship contender.

100% Effort

For some games during the college basketball season, you may have to interpret how likely a team will show up for the game, meaning how seriously will a team view a matchup. However, when it comes to rivalry games, you won’t have to worry about a team potentially not giving it their all. When it comes to rivalries, you can be almost guaranteed that every player who steps on the court will be in it to give their all.