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College Basketball Betting
Don't Get Impressed By 'Famous' Coaches

By Charles Jay

There is so much in the way of coverage on games these days - and for the purposes of this discussion we'll limit it to college basketball - that the coaches have become stars in their own right.

It wasn't necessarily always that way, at least on a wide scale. Sure, there were coaching "heroes," but things really exploded with cable television. And there isn't a whole lot of criticism on air, because of the fact that the color commentators have been largely ex-coaches. No one's going to rip another member of the fraternity.

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What you've got is, in effect, a machinery that breeds hype. It creates mythology. That mythology also extends to the commentators themselves. No one had ever heard of Dick Vitale before he became a color analyst on ESPN. But he became an "influencer," as it were, and since he was a cheerleader for his favorite coaches, that fed even more into the myth.

If you've noticed, there are certain programs that get more exposure than others, at least on the biggest stages. It is also quite logical that when coaches get more exposure, and more praise during the process of such exposure, they are going to be looked at in a more favorable light by prospective recruits. That usually brings success, and is often the case in college sports, success has a tendency to breed more success.

And so it is a cycle that keeps going 'round and 'round.

So why are we telling you this? And what does it have to do with betting on college basketball, or college football, for that matter? Well, this isn't a pari-mutuel situation, where you are wagering against the other bettors. However, you can take advantage of what is going on with public "action."

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Bettors who are "squares" are going to wager on the better-known programs, which are often accompanied by the better-known coaches. And that has the very real possibility of creating some value for sports bettors who does not place such an emphasis on factors that are, in fact, over-emphasized by others. It may not be a big stretch to say that they are "overrated," in relation to the reality. It is a factor you need to take into account.

It's not that the more "famous" coaches like Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim and John Calipari are big losers against the spread. They have generally proven to be about 50-50. And they are not much worse than that as a favorite. You're not going to make a profit following them in these situations, although it may not be the road to ruin either. Because they ARE good coaches, and invariably have top-level talent, they can indeed be dangerous as underdogs.

What I prefer to look for are the coaches who have had a penchant for over-achievement; that is, they don't ever seem to get the top-notch recruits but can always compete with the high-echelon programs. They tend to be system-oriented, so they can have a sense of continuity from one season to the next, no matter who is in the lineup.

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If you look at a coach like Tony Bennett, for instance, his "pack-Line" defense has more or less been the "star" of the show wherever he has gone, and a great equalizer when his teams have faced more highly-touted coaches and players. And he has proven to great both as an underdog and on an overall basis against the pointspread.

So don't necessarily be swayed by the more publicized programs and coaches. Keep an eye out for those who can get the most out of what they've got.