Pace, Efficiency & Winning College Basketball Bets

Use key statistics to win more college basketball bets.

Key Points

– Bettors can win more college basketball bets by studying pace and efficiency numbers.

– Understanding pace and efficiency can help bettors make better decisions.

Pace, Efficiency & Winning College Basketball Bets

Tempo, or pace, is a straightforward concept that can be used to quickly and effectively predict what will happen in upcoming college basketball games.

It is impossible for sports bettors to watch even a sizable portion of the NCAA basketball games that are played. The smart college basketball handicapper can use the box scores to get a good sense of what actually happened in a game. 

Smart bettors will use tempo-free stats as well as tempo-related stats to get an idea of the real story behind the game. Smart bettors avoid the common CBB betting mistakes.

Simply put, tempo refers to how quickly a team plays in a game. Tempo may also refer to both teams as a whole. In a 40-minute college basketball game, each team typically has between 60 and 80 possessions. 

Every year, you will witness a few games that are run at an absurdly fast pace—90 possessions or more. There are also those few that are run at an agonizingly slow pace of 55 or fewer possessions. Remember, the majority will fall between 60 and 80. 

A methodical team that takes its time to set up plays and lets the game develop is one that averages close to 60 possessions per game. To fit into their comfort zone, they like to slow down games. 

A team with an average tempo of close to 80 possessions would, on the other hand, be a run-and-gun offense that probably relies on speed and athleticism to gain an advantage.


Finding Tempo Stats

Bettors can find tempo and possession statistics online at a number of different sites. The stats can also easily be calculated. For example, the number of possessions is equal to field goal attempts minus offensive rebounds plus turnovers plus 0.475 times the number of free throw attempts.

You can compute the total number of possessions for both basketball teams during a game and then average the two if you want an even better result. You can calculate the total number of possessions a team has had in a season by carrying out this action for each game that a team has played. That’s when things get interesting.

Comparing Tempo Stats to Win More College Basketball Bets

To gauge how teams compare in a game, bettors can use tempo stats first. The styles are generally similar if both teams average a similar number of possessions per game. 

It’s safe to assume that neither team will venture too far from their comfort zone. Where it gets interesting is when a team averages closer to 80 possessions per game plays a team that averages closer to 60. 

These two playing philosophies are completely at odds with one another. In the end, one of the teams will be forced to play a style of basketball that is very uncomfortable for them. Sports bettors can identify these style clashes based on tempo. From there, they can determine which team is likely to control the game’s pace and how that will affect the game’s outcome.

Knowing the preferred tempos of two opponents allows you to compare past results between teams that play at similar tempos. Take an up-tempo team that has historically performed well against teams with a slower tempo. The team with the slower tempo struggles against teams that like to run and push the pace.

Tempo-Free Stats

Once you have analyzed tempo, you can begin to look at tempo-free stats. Tempo-free numbers are those that have been broken down by possession rather than by game. 

Full game stats can often be misleading. A team wins 90-80, but that doesn’t always mean they played better than a team that won 70-60. You can compare the team that scored 90 to the team that scored 70 by using per-possession stats.

Points per possession is a more useful statistic in determining how well a team played. If both of these teams had the same number of possessions, the 70-point team would actually be expected to score more points than the other team. 

High scoring teams often blind the public. That is why offensive efficiency is a great way to determine when to back a team and when not to because their numbers are deceptive.

Offensive Efficiency

In most cases, offensive efficiency is expressed as points per 100 possessions. A very good basketball team may have an offensive efficiency rating of 120, meaning they score 120 points per 100 possessions. 

Offensive efficiency is calculated by taking the points scored and dividing that number by the number of possessions. Doing so will give you an offensive efficiency rating. For example, 120 points divided by 100 possessions gives you 1.2. That number can be multiplied by 100 to give you a number that looks more like points scored in a game. 

The same thing can be done to calculate defensive efficiency. Bettors can learn a lot about teams by looking at both offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. 

Sometimes, especially early in college basketball seasons, these numbers can be inflated. When a team plays a number of inferior opponents, offensive efficiency stats might appear much higher than they actually are. 

When conference play starts, these efficiency numbers are extremely useful when making college basketball bets. It’s also useful to take advantage of the benefits using multiple sportsbooks.

College Basketball Bets & Efficiency Margin

There is one more efficiency-related number that is useful when making college basketball bets – efficiency margin. This is calculated by deducting the points per possession lost from the points per possession earned to arrive at this. 

If the number is positive, the team scores more than it gives up. Typically, this is the mark of a pretty respectable team. If the number is negative, this is usually a team that struggles to keep up with its opponents. 

Using these numbers can help bettors win more college basketball bets. Use the numbers to spot trends and make good betting decisions.