College Basketball Betting: Conference USA’s Innovative Scheduling
Conference USA has created a way for the top teams to enhance their resumes for the NCAA selection committee. The first seven weeks of the conference season seem very normal. Each team will play every conference team once, with the exception of their travel partner, who they will play twice. Following the initial 14 games, teams will be broken into three groups. The top 5 teams will be in the top group, teams 6-10 will be in the middle group and teams 11-14 will be in the bottom group. The four ‘bonus’ games will be scheduled with each team playing every other team in their group once (at least for the top two groups, the bottom group is slightly different). Teams will now compete for seeding in the conference tournament, but can’t be seeded outside their group. For example, if a team goes 0-4 in the top group, it will get no worse than the 5 seed. The top four teams get a bye to the quarterfinals. The 11-14 group is competitive as well because only 12 teams make the tournament, with the last two teams in the bottom group left out of the tournament altogether.
It’s not a perfect system by any means and it definitely would not be a good fit for most of the top conferences that are regularly playing teams in the top 50 and top 100 anyway. It could impact betting in several different ways. But the primary concern is travel. C-USA has teams spread across the southern part of the country and they have been great at carefully planning schedules and using travel partners to lessen the implications of travel on each team. The conference is taking a one week break before the ‘bonus’ games to streamline the best schedule for each team. However, with teams from West Virginia to Texas, this may not be easy. Or even possible.
Last season, Marshall won the conference tournament which resulted in the only bid for C-USA, while six 20-win teams didn’t get in. League officials immediately went to work on how they could increase that number for their conference. NCAA Tournament bids are rewarded with payouts of around $1 million and extending up to $8 million. The NCAA wants conferences to split the money they receive evenly among each school, but each conference has the freedom to alter the payouts. Obviously, teams in the upper echelon of the conference benefit more from the new scheduling, but the whole conference can be impacted by increased bids if it produces the desired results. As always, informed bettors will be taking advantage of the value provided by the unique scheduling situation as this exciting new plan unfolds.
Professional bettor Micah Joe has a documented college basketball record of 158-132 55% this season. Check out all of his subscription options here.