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VIRGINIA AT MIAMI
HANDICAPPING WITH SCHEDULE STRENGTH
One of the things we like to do with these articles is give you a little insight into the way we approach basketball handicapping. One of the things you see us refer to in these articles is schedule strength. While this game we are going to look at today is not an official play (we'll explain why) it is a great example of the role of schedule strength in college hoops handicapping.
After 16 games of the season had been played, Miami looked like world beaters. On paper at least. They were 15-1. They were shooting 55% in some games while holding opponents to 33%. To the casual observer, you had a pretty damn good basketball team in the Hurricanes.
Truth is, they weren't very good. Sharp bettors picked up on this right away. We cashed several winning tickets by going against Miami once conference play started. The Hurricanes lost their first 5 games in conference play against the spread. The oddsmakers may have caught up however, as they are 4-1-1 against the spread their last 6 games.
Miami built their early season record and stats against a weak non conference schedule. It's very similar to the way a top boxing prospect is handled with kid gloves early in his career in order to pad hs record while in search of a big pay day and a title shot.
After their 15-1 start, Miami has gone 2-8. They are 3-8 in conference play and 17-9 on the year and can forget about making the big dance. We won't be playing against them in this spot however.\
When we work this game up to come up with a predicted final we get a score of 63-62 Miami. With +6 available at most sportsbooks, that gives us a 5 point gap between our number and the line. Enough for us to make a play. However, we look for additional factors before making the plunge.
One of the most important handicapping factors this time of year is current momentum. Is a team playing even, above or below their season rating? Teams that are playing above their season ratiing come tourney time are great teams to zero in on. Likewise, it's a good idea to stay away from teams playing below their season rating.
Virginia would be a team playing below their season rating. They have lost their last 5 games while shooting just 35% on average. Miami shot over 50% their last two times out. We also like to look at how teams played against common opponents. In this case, Miami actually performed better against common opponents than Virginia did.
To summarize, our initial work up on this game has Miami winning by just 1 point. An edge for Virginia. However, when digging further into the matchup, we see that Virginia is probably not the best team to invest in right now due to their current form. So, we pass.
But now you have a nice piece to the handicapping puzzle that you can tuck away and use in the future. Things aren't always the way they seem on paper. You can cash plenty of tickets by finding "Paper Tigers" and betting against them when the time is right.