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Tips for Big Ten Basketball Betting

T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Predictions

The Big Ten was disappointing in college football this year, and it is just as disappointing in college basketball. I love the Big Ten, so it hurts me to have to admit that. Beyond Wisconsin, the elite football teams were exposed as frauds in the bowls. Beyond Wisconsin and Ohio State in basketball, there isn't too much to get excited about. Indiana's okay, and another team or two will make the tournament, but this is far from a deep and powerful conference. The conference is so dull and dismal that you might want to avoid betting on it, but it's still a storied and proud conference, and it's still attractive because it's the Big Ten. If you're determined to keep playing it, then, or you want to start, here are six tips to make the most of betting on the conference:

Home sweet home - Home court is a big advantage throughout college basketball, but it is especially big in the Big Ten. The top eight teams in the conference have a home record of 104-9, which is a .920 winning percentage. Compare that to the conference's Rose Bowl rivals in the Pac-10. Their top eight teams have a record of 87-18, or .829. In other words, you had better have a really good reason to pick against the home team in the Big Ten.

Michigan State wins, but they don't go over - The Spartans are looking good for a tournament invite, so they are a solid team. They have really struggled to go over their totals this year, though. They have gone over just five times in the 19 games they have played which have had a total, and they have only gone over twice in their last 10 tries. It's not like they are facing huge totals, either - they went under 115, 121, 122 and 122.5 in January. The team doesn't score and they play very solid defense, so the under should remain attractive.

Illinois is a bad bet - The Illini are a solid team. At 17-8 they stand a decent chance of making the tournament. They are incredibly bad at covering a spread, though. They are just 5-15 ATS. If that seems like an ugly total, consider this - they are 3-3 ATS in their last six to improve from their very ugly 2-12 start. It doesn't help their cause that the team is absolutely awful at shooting. They rank no higher than 172nd in any shooting category, and they are only the 306th best team from the foul line. It's not a wonder they don't put up enough points to cover.

Michigan is much worse than their record - Looking at the 16-7 record you might think that the Wolverines are having a decent year. Not so much. They have, without exaggeration, lost to every team they have played that are better than them. They got off to an 11-1 start thanks to a creampuff schedule, with matchups against basketball superpowers like Harvard and Central Connecticut State. The losses haven't even been close, though - UCLA beat them by 37, Georgetown by 16, Wisconsin by 13, Indiana by 15. With a rough schedule down the stretch, including two against Ohio State, you would be making a real mistake if you decide to trust the Wolverines.

Wisconsin is very good - Ohio State gets most of the attention out of the conference because of Greg Oden, and they deserve it, but Wisconsin is a very solid team. They are led by forward Alando Tucker, but the strength of the team, like in football, is that they aren't built around a star mentality, so it is essentially impossible to isolate a player and shut the team down. They are solid offensively, and the play a disciplined and effective defense. They aren't really exceptional anywhere, but they are solid in all aspects. Their consistency is reflected in their betting records - they are 10-9 ATS, so they are neither more nor less than people expect. They are potentially en route to a No. 1 seed in March, and they are a team you need to learn more about if you haven't been paying attention to them so far this year.

Greg Oden is a freak - Oden is the most hyped player since LeBron, but he is worth every word that is used to describe him. His numbers - 15.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.4 blocks - are very solid, but they don't jump off the page. They don't even begin to describe his impact, though. He is a huge factor in nearly every play, and he intimidates every opponent who touches the ball. It doesn't hurt that he looks like he's about 38 years old. As fun as he is to watch, though, and as good as his team has the potential to be in the tournament, Oden has not been very helpful to bettors. Before he came back from his wrist injury, the Buckeyes were 6-1 ATS. Since his return they are just 7-7. Given the amount of attention and hype that Oden gets, it is clearly very difficult to find value in Buckeye lines.

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