February in college basketball is all about seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Each team’s performance in the last 10 games of the season plays an important role in how they fare come Selection Sunday. So, what a team does during this time is all about building their tournament resume.
What also occurs in this month is how the public perceives a team. All a casual bettor has to do is look at the loss column coming into the second month of the calendar year and see a zero. It grabs their attention immediately.
However, don’t think the guys setting the college basketball odds haven’t factored this in. They know the gambling public loves to play the great teams. When they the home team is undefeated on their home court the money can’t come out of their pocket fast enough.
We see the same phenomenon when we take a peek at a February team that has the big zero in the win column on the road. The casual bettor loves going against these poor road teams.
As is often the case with betting, perception and reality don’t necessarily line up.
Teams without a home loss heading into February are 159-192 ATS at home over the last 8 seasons. That is a cover rate of just 45.3%. This is a pretty strong indicator that the odds makers are charging a premium on undefeated home teams.
What’s even more impressive is that the bigger the favorite, the better the fade. When an unbeaten home team is favored by 12.5 points or more they are a mere 58-91 (38.9%) against the spread.
Flipping the role to the winless road team, we don’t want them in the big dog role. We want them in the tiny dog or favorite role! The casual bettor will see a winless road team posted as a tiny dog, or even favorite and immediately think they hit the lottery. They will play against them nearly without thinking.
That isn’t quite the case, as you have no doubt come to expect. There isn’t a huge sample size, but February winless road teams as an underdog of +1.5 or less or as a favorite are 18-4 ATS over the past eight seasons. These same teams are also 15-2 ATS when their record is less than or equal to .500 overall on the season. In other words, the worse they are, the more likely they are to cover the spread!