When the NCAAF season is coming to a close, that means only one thing, NCAAB is starting to heat up, and sports bettors everywhere who like to get some hardwood action look to the college basketball game. Every sports bettor has a strategy, and with advanced metrics, the new bet winners are mathematicians.
Here at MyTopSportsbooks, we will introduce you to the KenPom betting system explicitly designed for collegiate basketball use. More than 350 college basketball teams are playing under the NCAA banner, and KenPom ranks and re-ranks each team regularly to give sports bettors up-to-date information to help them make an educated wager.
The system was devised by Ken Pomeroy (https://kenpom.com/) and has existed since 2002. The preseason rankings listed by ESPN and USA Today for division I schools for men’s basketball rely on the Kenpom rankings for much of their information. It isn’t just the NCAA college basketball that the Kenpom rankings apply.
You can see a crossover between the NFL betting and college football betting for offensive and defensive efficiency. KenPom has an extraordinary record; last season, they predicted the number-one seed for the NCAA tournament and the eventual champion last year.
Schools from the biggest conferences like Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Clemson, Minnesota, Seton Hall, Maryland, Miami, Ohio State, USC, UCLA, Gonzaga, Northwestern, Auburn, Utah, LSU, and TCU are top 50 teams in the Kenpom rankings.
How Kenpom Works
As we stated, 353 teams play men’s college basketball. The site ranks and re-ranks every team on a daily basis with team rankings based on cumulative results of the games played and how the strength of schedule factors into the distillation of the ranking results. In theory, weaker teams sliding in their division standings realize that they have no chance of winning their conference or gaining an NCAA tournament berth.
As the season drones on for the unsuccessful, they typically go into the tank because they have nothing to play for. (Many of these schools do not have NBA-calibre draft choices, so it is inevitable that they quit on the season). When bookies or oddsmakers set the odds at sportsbooks, they tend to overvalue marginally better home teams over marginally worse road underdogs.
The lines posted by the sportsbooks come from each team’s Power Ratings that help devise everything from the point spread to halftime scores.
The Kempom System, the Criteria
- The system kicks in the last two weeks of the basketball season (mid-February);
- Conference games only;
- Teams that reside within the System have a KenPom Ranking of 180-353;
- Teams must be from college basketball conferences. Summit League would qualify because these teams play games that are regularly lined by bookies. Teams that are not part of this system, like the Atlantic Sun, Mid-Eastern and Western Athletic Conferences, don’t qualify.
- The opening line on the point spread, the HOME team, must be at least -6.0. If the opener is -6.0, and the line moves to -5.0 before you place your bet down; it is not a System play;
- Always bet on the visiting underdog, and take the points.
- When using the KenPom System, it is best to bet the side early. Oddsmakers are very quick to move the lines based on a few bets taken;
- The System is for the regular season only.
Let’s look at a possible exception to the kenpom system. Suppose a team has something to play for, a like Senior’s Night matchup, for the home team. You would want to steer clear of that game due to the game not fitting the tanking criteria mentioned earlier.
Kenpom Betting Opportunties
- Profitable System Variations
- You can bet the First Half Spread
- You can bet the Underdog Moneyline
- You can play the System up to a KenPom Ranking of 165
- You can buy a half-point on the line
- Early birds will play the Pre-System, which begins the first week of February.
The Rankings Explained
The analytical stats are based on each team’s offensive and defensive ratings. The way the offensive rating is tabulated is based on the number of points – on average – per 100 offensive possessions. The defensive metric works opposite to the offensive metrics when determining a team’s competitive rating. It is based on points – the average – that the team gives up per defensive possession.
The Kenpom ranking system is based on the point differential when subtracting defensive points allowed from offensive points allowed. By way of example, the North Carolina Tarheels score 90 points per game and allow 67.
Their net ranking would be +23 and make them a favorite in just about every game they play. Other teams like perrenial powers like Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, Virginia, Kansas, Florida, Tennessee, Duke, Purdue, Wisconsin, Texas, Cincinnati, Louisville, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Villanova, Notre Dame are all division I powerhouses that consistently rank highly on the kenpom scale.
The system is very accurate and has predicted the National Champion 10 of 18 years since it has been in existence, and the number 1 team ranked on kenpom has been crowned champion.
One key factor the system needs to consider that sportsbooks do is injuries. If a star player goes down before a big game that might determine who ranks number one in the country, the oddsmakers will panic and push the lines. At kenpom, nothing changes. The sports bettor will have to strike a balance when betting on a team with their star player out and look for value accordingly.
Pros and Cons of Kenpom
- It is the college basketball bible, used by coaches, oddsmakers and sports bettors
- You can find great odds sitting in plain sight
- Games with lesser-known teams offer great payouts; you don’t have to bet the chalk all the time.
- Familiarity breeds contempt, and kenpom is well-known in basketball circles, with big payouts few and far between.
- Kenpom doesn’t factor in injuries to the system.
- Based on that, blind allegiance to kenpom isn’t the best course of action.