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Bear hibernating on basketball

Basketball Season Should Be Hibernation Time

by Mickey Charles

In the frenetic and frenzied world of the player, where stress is the norm and anxiety is worn like a badge of honor, it is safe to say that he or she has more than enough to fill waking and sleeping moments with football, baseball, and assorted casino games, without having to worry about collegiate or professional basketball.

Hockey, the NHL, and its minor league of boxing and wrestling rolled up into one, holds as much interest for the gaming public as does sky diving with your parachute being delivered by UPS as you stand at the door of the plane ready to go. It will not catch up with you and neither will some latent interest in this sport. That is particularly so when it comes to placing a wager on one side or the other. Those that bet on the outcome are welcome to it, it is their personal planet and the macrocosm that evolves is of little interest to anyone else.

The gambler is besieged by statistics, historical trends, tradition, and records from the past that, realistically, have as much bearing on the outcome of the current event as does your carefully hand-written letter to your Congressman. Handicappers proliferate the local newspapers, sports magazines, and game schedules from Las Vegas and the Internet in greater numbers than salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Everyone has an opinion. The world of technology is rife with winning formulas. Statisticians have determined that when Aquarius is in line with Saturn and the moon is full the night before the big game, a particular team will win if the groundhog sees his shadow that morning. It is the nature of the world of gaming. The more items that are available to the person trying to make a decision and select a team that will win the game—by the points, of course—the higher the comfort zone. Hey, you take all the advice you can whenever and wherever you can, hoping that it agrees with your initial gut reaction. That’s about as scientific as it gets.

When it comes to the NFL, there are upsets, snow storms (great under situations), other impactful weather conditions, historical trends that stand up like iron, injuries to take into consideration, travel, teams peaking, others heading downhill, coaching changes, and whatever else can be thrown into the mix before the opening kick-off. Besides, it is a once a week sport so the anguish and pain of the game only comes on a Saturday or Sunday (albeit lasting some three hours or so). The same goes for college football and one must study and take notes on a particular conference or a few studied teams during the course of the season to be consistently on the plus side of things.

Baseball is a streak and pitcher game. The streaks are the most established, prevailing, and reliable touchstone that the sport has to offer. There is no sense wagering on Randy Johnson when he is a 250 to 1 favorite. Sure, the odds are excellent that he will win but the make-up you must endure when he loses is enough to throw the entire season out of synch. This game is the baccarat of sports. Just follow the streaks, winning or losing, and manage the heck out of your funds.

That brings us to basketball played at the professional level, a sport about as unpredictable as a chameleon’s next color change. These guys put on more mileage than international pilots. The time changes that they go through are equivalent to the number of costumes Britney or Janet bring to any performance. Their minds are playing in New York and their bodies are still sleeping in Seattle. The mood changes of the players rank right up there with the weather in Michigan. Just wait a few minutes and it is everything but what you expected. They are as dependable as a politician, which means not at all. Oh sure, you can follow the Los Angeles Lakers and pick out some really calculable and seemingly secure situations that might increase your bankroll but, overall, trying to determine projected winners in the NBA should be considered with registration at the Cuckoo’s Nest. Start to delve into potential over/under conditions and a Ouija board takes on a life of its own as a source of data.

The basic problem is that the player, possibly you, cannot exercise any degree of self-control, which makes involvement with the NBA a trip into the black hole of space. There is no returning the same way you entered. You are sucked in and the more you struggle to extricate yourself, the deeper you are drawn. Not good. Pre-game determinations are dubious at best. The ups and downs of the teams are mercurial. Erratic should be a listing in the box score. Nothing exists in this game of professional basketball that actually holds true to form. There is neither standard nor history. The playoffs? Maybe. During the season? Find an ice hole and go fishing. The NFL is still in action so concentrate your attention on football.

Does the same hold true for college basketball? Pretty much. You can, however, treat it, as I would urge you to do for college football. Select some teams or a conference or two and become as expert as you can on them. Read the books, follow the standings, determine grudge matches, games that a team really needs, look for Duke after an unanticipated loss or precariously close decision. Weigh lots and lots of input on the teams within the conference—travel schedules, exams, injuries, excessive point spreads (the odds makers do not know much more than you about many leagues), rankings prior to playing for position, and the March Madness frivolities. But, do not, under any circumstances, believe that there is formula for hoops, college or pro, other than that to which I have just made reference. The malaise that surrounds you is usually the belief that you know, that you really, really know, and can figure it out. Or, possibly, you have a colleague that tells you how easy it is and how he is always winning. Then how come he drives a Hyundai and not a Bentley?

Besides, you are entitled to rest, to take a sabbatical every now and then. Yes, it is allowable. The basketball itself goes up and down, as many times during the course of a game as do the bankrolls and opinions of those who feel compelled to make an investment in the outcome of games of the sport. There is no system, no proven methodology, streaks do not exist, injuries to key players are almost a certain sign that the rest of the team will overcome their new shortcomings and win the game, while coaching decisions coupled with technicals are pro forma, helping to create winning and losing point spreads, not actual game outcomes in most cases.

It is a great game to watch—NBA or collegiate level. The athletes are stellar and maneuver themselves in ways that other sports participants only dream of. They are conditioned colts that can run forever, leap with gazelles and still push a small bull elephant out of the way if need be. They soar above the rim as easily as most of us jump over a small puddle. Their hands are large enough to cradle Third World countries without upsetting the countryside. Many are walking advertisements for tattoo parlors and they make more money than the mint can print in a day. You are thinking of covering the point spread and they have their minds on scoring titles, parties, and big cars.

In the college ranks there are just too many teams, players, coaches and other intangibles to allow for a definitive choice. Your knowledge bank can hold just so much. The constant problem is trying to figure it all out. You cannot. You must accept that as a fact. You must admit your own failings even though you do not recognize them now. Accept reality. There is more than enough action to keep you busy and on a winning course with the NFL, college football, and Major League Baseball. All are easy to swallow and there is no reason to choke on basketball.

A closing note, however. The odds makers know less than you do at the beginning of a college basketball season and there are many, many, wrong lines made in those first two weeks. If you can manage to study and set some projected numbers of your own in place, then match them up against what is put out as the line, you will learn that you know, in this instance, much more than they do. Seek out those games—you will recognize them—and, once they are over, stop, collect and return to football. Discipline!

Buy yourself a big screen television and watch the guys in short pants running up and down while you have some pretzels, chips, and a diet drink before falling asleep. Leave the wagering on this sport to someone else who can afford the losses.



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