College Basketball Rankings Explained


Sports bettors are always looking for an edge. College basketball bettors are no different. Where can they find that edge? One of the ways is by using the various college basketball rankings available to anyone who can find them. Using these rankings should be part of any sound college basketball betting strategy.

College Basketball Rankings Explained
Use college basketball rankings as part of a complete betting strategy

College basketball can be a lucrative market for those with the knowledge and experience necessary, especially if they understand how rankings play into their decisions. In this post, we will provide an in-depth look at how to use college basketball rankings as part of a successful betting strategy. From understanding the different types of rankings available to looking at ranking trends throughout the season, this guide should give you all the tools needed to answer your questions related to how to bet on basketball.

Different College Basketball Rankings

Bettors will hear analysts and bettors alike refer to various college basketball rankings. There are a number of different ranking systems and you should have some idea of how these rankings are developed. For example, some of the simplest are the AP Top 25 rankings and the USA Today Coaches Poll.

We will examine the AP Top 25 in further detail later, but essentially you find a listing of teams like Houston, Kansas, Florida, Auburn, etc. ranked from No. 1 to No. 25. There are some factors that are considered when ranking the teams, but the poll is made by writers from the AP (Associated Press).

College Basketball Rankings Explained
AP Top 25 College Basketball Rankings

The writers will factor in things like win-loss record and strength of schedule and then come up with their own poll. All of the writers’ polls are combined and a Top-25 college basketball rankings is put out each week of the season. There is a preseason poll as well, which is typically dominated by blueblood programs like Kansas, UCLA, and Michigan State.

Research Teams Like Iowa State & Boise State

As college basketball season heats up, fans and analysts alike turn their attention to the college basketball rankings of the top teams. However, to truly understand which teams are likely to go far in March Madness, it’s important to examine teams that are not on the radar.

Typically, teams like Kansas or Michigan State are always near the top of the AP and Coaches Poll rankings. They are popular college basketball teams because of their long histories. Both programs have won multiple national championships and both teams usually make the March Madness tournament at the end of the season.

Don’t be afraid of less popular teams

Many teams like Weber St. or Mississippi St. will often be overlooked by the betting public. They aren’t as popular and are not as well-known for having great basketball programs. But, as you dive into some of the other college basketball rankings, you may find there is value is some of these lesser-known teams. Sometimes, you may find teams like this at the bottom of the AP poll. There is always a section of teams “receiving votes” meaning there were some writers who felt they were worthy of being in the Top 25.

Do the research and find some of these diamond-in-the-rough type teams. It will pay off at your sportsbook.

Historical College Basketball Rankings Can Help

Bettors can look beyond the current season and consider a team’s performance over multiple seasons. After all, college basketball rankings can fluctuate throughout the year based on a number of factors. Injuries occur or an unexpected upset to an unranked team can happen.

By analyzing a team’s record and overall performance over several years, you can get a better idea of their strengths, weaknesses, and overall level of consistency. This information can be incredibly valuable when trying to predict how a team might perform in any given game. Consider teams that historically play well on the road. This is useful information when handicapping a game.

College Basketball Rankings Explained
James Madison has upset teams like Michigan State

Take the case of James Madison, a newer program to NCAA Division I. In their recent history, they have shown the ability to go on the road and, at the very least, cover the point spread. James Madison has also made a name for itself with some big early season upsets too. It’s worth taking a deeper dive into a team’s history before making any predictions.

Analyze CBB Schedules

When the NCAAB season starts, fans and bettors are both eagerly watching the college basketball rankings. They are always looking ahead to the Big Dance, aka March Madness. During the regular season, the various college basketball rankings can be useful before placing a wager.

Part of a successful CBB betting strategy should be to analyze a team’s schedule. This is especially true when you look at teams like Iowa State, Mississippi State, and San Diego State. These are teams that are not front and center in all of the college basketball news.

By examining schedules, bettors can find matchups that lead to potential mismatches or are the perfect scenario for an upset. Take a team like Mississippi State. The Bulldogs play in the SEC where teams like Kentucky, Auburn, Florida, and Alabama play. Alabama has been one of the top teams in the country the last few years. Looking at their schedule, you find that they have a rivalry game with a pretty good Auburn team and then a week later play Texas in the SEC/Big 12 challenge.

Now, sandwiched inbetween those two games is a conference game in Starkville to play the Bulldogs. It’s the perfect set-up for an upset. One tough game with another coming up, but a game inbetween that you should win. Many teams suffer letdowns in these situations. After doing their research, bettors might opt to bet the Bulldogs to cover or even take a shot at them on the moneyline.

Schedules also play a role later in the season. Teams that fill their early schedules with difficult opponents often find themselves better prepared when the conference tournaments and March Madness roll around.

Player Performance Affects College Basketball Rankings

When it comes to college basketball rankings, it’s important to pay attention to more than just the overall standings and rankings. Sure, an undefeated team might look impressive on paper, but when you dig deeper and consider the recent performances of their key players, you might see a different picture.

Keep in mind that basketball is a team sport, but since there are only five guys per team on the floor at once, any one player can have a significant impact on a game’s outcome. Say you have a player who is shooting over 50 percent per game. His performance brings the team’s shooting percentage closer to 50. The team makes more of its shots. Teams that are hot like that often win games, regardless of what their record might be.

There are times, too, when a team relies too heavily on a star player. If one player scores a high percentage of a team’s points, what happens when he has an off night? Even teams like Michigan State and UCLA have nights where their stars just can’t seem to buy a basket. The point is to make sure you look at player performance as part of your overall CBB betting strategy.

Home Court Advantage – Yes or No

One of the factors often looked at when betting on college basketball is home court advantage. If you have been betting for any period of time, you may have learned that oddsmakers at sportsbooks will bake in home court advantage into their lines and odds.

In college basketball, the home court advantage may be even more pronounced than in other sports. Teams like Clemson and Virginia have to play Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium every year. Duke’s home arena only seats a little over 9,300 fans. Many of them are students and they go absolutely nuts at every game. It’s extremely loud and very difficult for teams like Virginia, Clemson, and the rest of the ACC to play there.

College Basketball Rankings Explained
The “Cameron Crazies” give Duke a big home court advantage

Playing at home isn’t the only reason that teams succeed. Yes, it’s an advantage to play at home, but it’s worth taking a look at other college basketball rankings, player performance, and other factors before placing any bets. If you want more wins and a fatter bankroll, you have to continually develop a sound betting strategy.

AP Top 25 College Basketball Rankings

Remember, we said we’d take a deeper look at the AP poll. The Associated Press Top 25 rankings are a cornerstone of college basketball, providing weekly updates on the top teams in the nation. This ranking is based on the judgments of sportswriters and broadcasters across the country. Each week teams receiving votes are ranked in a poll designed to determine the best performing teams.

As the season progresses, the AP Top 25 becomes a barometer of team performance, and often predicts the teams likely to compete in the NCAA Tournament. It’s important to note these college basketball rankings can fluctuate significantly, as teams rise and fall based on their week-to-week performance. One week, Wisconsin and Memphis are ranked. The next week, they each lose a game and are out of the rankings. That’s part of the madness of college basketball!

College Basketball Rankings Explained
The cornerstone of college basketball rankings

The AP Top 25 rankings also serve as a motivator for teams to perform at their best, as being ranked in the top 25 is considered a prestigious accomplishment. This can lead to intense competition within conferences, adding even more excitement to the college basketball season. When a ranked Michigan team plays a ranked Wisconsin team in a Big Ten game, the stakes are just a little higher.

Not only do these AP men’s basketball rankings create buzz and anticipation among fans, they also play a crucial role in determining seedings for the NCAA Tournament. Teams with higher rankings are typically rewarded with easier paths to the Final Four. That makes it essential for teams to maintain a top 25 ranking throughout the season.

NET College Basketball Rankings

The NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings are a contemporary, analytical approach to evaluating the performance of men’s basketball teams across the United States. Introduced by the NCAA in 2018, NET college basketball rankings have replaced the previous RPI system and consider several factors to provide a more comprehensive and accurate ranking. Among these factors are game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, and the efficiency of both the offense and the defense.

The aim of the NET ranking system is to serve as a better measure of how good a team really is. It ensures that teams are evaluated by their performance throughout the season rather than just on their winning percentage or subjective opinion.

The adoption of the NET ranking system has had a significant impact on college basketball as it has changed the way teams are selected for the NCAA tournament. In previous years, teams were primarily chosen based on their RPI ranking. The RPI took into account strength of schedule and game results. That’s all.

This often led to controversial decisions and left room for subjectivity. With the introduction of the NET rankings, teams are now evaluated more holistically and have a better chance of making it to the NCAA tournament based on their overall performance.

Not only has the NET ranking system affected team selection for the NCAA tournament, but it has also had ripple effects on scheduling and strategy for teams. With factors such as scoring margin and efficiency being taken into account, winning by a certain number of points becomes important. That should play into bettors’ minds as they consider betting on point spreads.

KenPom College Basketball Rankings

The KenPom rankings, officially known as the Ken Pomeroy College Basketball Rankings, have emerged as an influential tool in the sport. These rankings, developed by basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy, utilize a variety of statistical measures to evaluate and rank teams in terms of their overall performance. The beauty of the KenPom system lies in its capacity to assess not just raw scoring and defensive data, but also the pace of play and the efficiency of a team’s offensive and defensive strategies. As such, the KenPom rankings have won widespread recognition for their ability to paint a more nuanced picture of team strength, making them a valuable resource for players, coaches, fans, and bettors.

College Basketball Rankings Explained
KenPom rankings were developed by statistician Ken Pomeroy

The KenPom college basketball rankings have become an integral part of the men’s basketball landscape, with many teams and conferences using them as a benchmark for success. In fact, some teams have even used their high KenPom ranking as a selling point in recruiting top players. Additionally, sports analysts often refer to the KenPom ratings when discussing potential NCAA tournament contenders.