Abraham Lincoln said, “Avoid popularity if you would have peace.” In college football wagering, make one small adjustment to Lincoln’s sage advice: Avoid popularity if you would have profit.
Generally speaking, when it comes to making the most profitable NCAA football picks, it is best to find what is popular and bet against it. Consider the following example:
Louisiana is an outstanding state for football. Of course, the most popular NCAA football team in the state is the Louisiana State University Tigers (LSU). One team decidedly less popular is the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks. On which team would Abraham Lincoln wager? If he considered no other factor than his (altered) quotation, undoubtedly Lincoln would choose Louisiana-Monroe.
Over five seasons, 2006-2010, LSU’s Against-The-Spread (ATS) record was 25 wins, 35 losses. Bets placed on LSU to beat the spread won at a rate of 41.67%. Betting on LSU would have been a great way to lose money.
On the other hand, over those same five seasons, Louisiana-Monroe’s ATS record was 33 wins and only 23 losses. Bets placed on the Warhawks to beat the spread won at a rate of 58.93%. Betting on this unpopular college football team would have been a great way to make money.
Keep in mind, oddsmakers in Nevada and around the world always strive to find the right number (the spread) that will elicit equal money on both sides of a wager. These oddsmakers know the popular teams and often “shade” the number in anticipation of lots of money wagered on the popular team. “Shading” is adding more points to the betting line (the spread) to function as counterbalance to heavy betting on one side. The knowledgeable bettor understands that popular teams often have inflated betting lines attached to them. Therefore, the unpopular opponent gains the advantage of those extra, “shaded” points.
We at CollegeFootballWinning.com created our Formula to account for many such tendencies. However, be cautious; the sports betting world is rife with counter-examples and anomalies. NCAA football handicapping is no exception. Too many casual bettors come to conclusions from too little data. Decisions should be made based on tendencies over time. Since no outcome of an NCAA football wager is ever guaranteed, CollegeFootballWinning.com looks for tendency and probability over time when making NCAA football picks. Is that popular? We, along with Abraham Lincoln, hope not.