March Madness Handicapping: The Golden Rules of Betting Big Dance, NIT, CBI, CIT

We’ve written many articles over the years about destroying the sportsbooks in March Madness.  We’ve also included nuggets in our Tid-bets at about how to have a March of Dimes.  But let’s review some of the best winning strategies here on the K-Tel of our Marching Hymns.

  • Depth is more important in conference play than any point of the year.  Teams are playing three and four days in a row.  Previous boxscores loom huge in conference tourney play 
  • Read press releases closely for the conference tournaments (or our news and notes at  Often coaches and players of teams that are “locks” for the Big Dance will subtly or not-so-subtly admit when resting players is more important than winning the conference postseason title
  • Don’t fall for the “handicap guard play” trap.  Virtually every team that makes the Dance and many that miss it have strong guard play.  Few teams compliment it with talent as the three, four and five spot.  Those are the teams that advance and cover
  • Talent is infinitely more important than experience. Few teams have a lot of both.  I handicap talent first and foremost. Don’t fall in love with mediocre teams just because they are senior laden
  • Take emotion in the first half lines of the first round.  A big underdog making a rare NCAA appearance or especially first ever, more times than you’d expect are able to keep it close against traditional powers in the first 20 minutes of the ballgame
  • Unlike the college bowls, finishing the season strong does go a long way.  Momentum is much more important in the hoop postseason than football
  • Don’t handicap neutral games as if they are road games for both teams.  One of the biggest myths in sports handicapping is that road record is indicative of neutral court play
  • However propinquity of schools to the site is very important. If one team had to make a much longer trip, we do favor the team that is significantly closer to the game location
  • At one time fading the chic mid-majors after the first round was as good as gold.  However the gap between the rich, middle class and poor conferences continues to narrow. “Strength of schedule” rankings still play a part though.  Massey’s consensus power ratings and Foxsheets are the most accurate
  • With so many square players coming out of the woodwork for Madness and different books catering to different clientele, line shopping is more important (more lucrative opportunities) in March Madness then ever.  This is especially true with totals.
  • Be careful about playing in any high stakes bracket tournament because it can and generally will bias you and inhibit your ability to make proper adjustments as the NCAA tournament goes on
  • The NIT small conference teams are great plays in the first two rounds.  They almost always have the David versus Goliath motivational advantage, not to mention the NIT is a major tourney for the bottom rung conferences
  • Big conference teams though become bigger plays as the NIT goes on.  Clearly with a win or two under their belt, there should be little doubt about how much they “want” to win.  Plus for financial reasons the bigger conference teams are often playing all at home while the tiny conferences are forced to win consecutive big games on the road.  It’s all about the money to the organizers and the bettors
  • In NIT picking, it’s the mid major bubble outsiders that generally feel they have something to prove.  Big 10, ACC, Big East outside-looking-in teams make quick exits, unless they have their entire nucleus coming back the following year and it’s a true “building block” tournament
  • Satellite and internet radio is a bigger tool than ever.  Both are great resources for the inside skinny

Joe Duffy of GodsTips, anchor of has written two articles considered Gospel to sports bettors. “The Most Important Article Ever Written About Sports Betting” is a must-read before betting and another tome about the, “10 Biggest Myths and Mistakes By Sports Bettors” has saved many gambler from falling into common sports gambling traps.



About the Author

Grandmaster Sports Handicapper Joe Duffy got his start in the sports handicapping industry with the Dial Sports (Communications Team) audiotext network. It was owned by sportswriter, broadcaster and handicapping pioneer Mickey Charles. Dial Sports was the sister company of the popular Sports Network Wire Service. Upon graduating California University of PA, where he was a play-by-play announcer on student radio station WVCS (now WCAL) and cable channel 29 (now CUTV), he became a full-time sports announcer and handicapper for the Sportsline scorephone network. He learned from NFL legends coach Hank Stram and broadcasting icon Ray Scott the ins and outs of the sports betting world. His Amazing Cadillac Club became the most successful 900-number in sports betting history. He left to become the first General Manager of the Freescoreboard scorephone network broadcast all over North America. His articles have appeared on several dozen websites and hard copy publications. He is now CEO of, the top sports betting site in the world. Email:

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