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March Madness Handicapping: On the Effects of Travel

A few years ago, the NCAA Tournament committee went to a new system of assigning teams to various brackets. The goal was to make sure that some teams – especially high seeds – were given preference by being stuck in spots closer to home. The committee developed something that they called “pods.” With the pods, different regionals play their opening round games in the same place. The San Diego host site might have two teams from the East regional, for instance.

How will this new reality impact your handicapping? You should know when making March Madness picks that travel has traditionally had a huge impact on the success of various teams. Teams that have to go long distances are normally road-weary when the tournament rolls around. Those who play close to home, on the other hand, experience tremendous boosts from getting the support of the semi-home crowd.

This is something that can help you get value over the rest of the betting market. March Madness is a time when people overlook a host of factors. They sometimes forget that these neutral site games are not exactly neutral. This is why you should check the sites every time you make a bet. You don’t want to be on an East Coast team that is being asked to play out in Spokane against a decent Gonzaga team. If possible, you want a team that is getting an advantage the market has not appropriately accounted for.