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Games Are Going UNDER In College Hoops With New Rule Changes

For the second straight season, rule adjustments are impacting scoring in college basketball. 

Last year saw a prolific rise in production thanks to the 30-second shot clock, which the NCAA changed from 35 seconds in previous years. A shorter shot clock led to a shift from 134.4 points per game in 2014 to 145.1 points per game in 2015. 

Scoring started off with more fireworks this year after the implementation of rule adjustments designed to give individual players more freedom of movement.  

Through November 21, scoring was up exactly two points compared with last November (148.7 points vs. 146.7 points). The increase leveled off considerably to 146.2 points per game by Nov. 28 and college basketball bettors may want to take note. 

Though scoring started off with a bang, the UNDER cashed in to the tune of 55.4 percent by Nov. 28 for an OVER/UNDER record of 275-342-8. That makes the UNDER a big moneymaker for anyone who's not familiar with how the juice (or the house's price tag) works in sports betting. 

The average total was 147.5 up to Nov. 28, so we can see how oddsmakers have overcompensated. 

That shouldn't come as too much of a shocker. When oddsmakers are being honest, most will tell you that few numbers give them headaches like college basketball totals. 

Too many teams. Too many games. And it all starts during the busiest time of the year when many of the major sports most popular with bettors collide in scheduling. 

The move to the 30-second shot clock threw the books for such a loop early on that most of them significantly delayed sending out totals on early-season games. It wasn't uncommon to see numbers posted just a few hours before tipoff with low limits attached to them. 

The result last year was a tiny undercompensation. The O/U went 297-283-4 (51.2 percent), which is a pretty impressive margin from the sportsbook's standpoint considering we were seeing such a dramatic change in points per game. 

This year, offensive possessions are up by two per game and I feel the overcompensation to higher totals is logical. The adjustment from books may have been with the expectation of more points overall but what we're actually seeing is more points by individuals rather than by teams collectively. 

By Nov. 28, there had been 114 30-point games by single players this season compared with 82 at the same time last season. That’s a massive increase.   

And according to ESPN Stats & Info “among the 30-point games this season, 20.8 percent of the points have been scored from the free throw line. That's a decrease of nearly 4 percent from last season over the same span.”

Based on that information, it shouldn’t surprise you that 80 percent of the top 25 scorers are guards. I think this could ultimately open up the entire floor even more as the season wears on but that’s something we’ll want to watch for. 

So far, it’s been a season of UNDERs and scoring has cooled off in recent days as teams and officials adjust to the new rules. Let’s keep an eye on it to see where the points per game goes from here and if oddsmakers make the right tweaks.

Avg. Scoring Per Game In November in College Baskeball
YearPoints per gameOVER/UNDER Record
2014135.69100-135-6 (57.4% UNDER)
2015146.69 297-283-4 (51.2% OVER)
2016 (to Nov. 28)146.16275-342-8 (55.4% UNDER)

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