Kelso's Advanced Sports Betting: Getting an "F" in Chemistry|
by Kelso Sturgeon
Contributing Sportsbook Editor
I've been struck in recent days by the high number of college basketball teams who are playing below early season standards based on what seem to be "chemistry" issues. In some cases, turmoil is being covered in the team's local media. In other cases, it's something you see with your own eyes when watching games on TV. Either way, students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should do what they can to recognize these teams and fade them.
What are some of the causes of "chemistry" issues?
The players have tuned out the head coach. This is most common with teams suffering through a season that isn't meeting expectations. The head coach is getting frustrated and taking it out on the players. This generation of college player doesn't take very well to that at all. Every generation seems more spoiled than the rest! This current generation turns its back and walks the other way if you come down hard on them. They stop listening to the coach and go into business for themselves. The coach has limited options because there isn't enough depth across the nation to create great benches. The season falls apart, and it takes oddsmakers several games to price the new reality properly.
The players aren't getting along with each other. I'm really seeing a lot of that this year. There's more than one alpha dog, but there's only one basketball! The team breaks into factions behind their alpha dog, and both the offense and defense grinds to a halt because the players aren't helping each other. Hero-ball doesn't work on offense any more...and the essence of defense involves rotations and off-side help. If you watch the players instead of the ball, this will really jump out at you. I've heard through the grapevine that coaches are really emphasizing recruiting kids with the right personalities these days. There aren't enough to go around!
The stars are more worried about their stats than winning. College basketball is full of kids who think they're going to be pros, even though a fraction of them will legitimately have that chance. Even some of the good-natured team-minded kids are forcing up bad shots because that's what "leadership" means. Eventually, this kills the spirit of the other players because they don't get to shoot when it matters! I've learned to be very careful with these PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS right now because they will cover spreads against bad defenses, but will shoot very poorly vs. good defenses.
The long grind of the season is taking its toll. Mid to late February is the hardest time for kids to stay enthusiastic and focused because the grind is taking its toll and the tournaments are a few weeks away. They start to snap at each other. Something that happens in practice carries over to a bench argument during a game. A player makes a mistake, and his teammates yell at him instead of having his back. I don't want to suggest that this is rampant in college basketball. But, if you can find 1-2 teams per conference who are dealing with the blah's, you can score quite a few winners with that knowledge over the next few weeks.
So, you're homework this week is to search for examples of teams who are likely dealing with chemistry issues.
Look for recent pointspread slumps
Look for negative headlines and stories in regional media
Watch a lot of games on TV!
Focus on player movement rather than the ball when watching on TV
Study the body language of players when listening to their head coach
Study the body language of players when they talk to each other
Study the body language of the bench during timeouts
In the old days, I mostly focused on pointspread slumps because handicapping was "on paper." Now, with so many games on TV, and with the internet linking you to newspapers following every college team...it's much easier to figure out which basketball teams are getting an "F" in chemistry. Winning sports bettors use all the resources available to them.