When Does College Basketball Become More Efficient?

When Does College Basketball Become More Efficient?

Jason Scavone
College Basketball
January 3, 2024


Technically, the college basketball season started Nov. 6. But if you were betting top-down early in the season, you may have found yourself on the variance roller coaster. Lousy coaster, too. It doesn’t even come with a free T-shirt for surviving the ride. And if you’ve been riding it, you’ve probably asked yourself “when does college basketball become more efficient?”

Now that we’re approaching Week 10 of the season, the answer is: right about now.

Unabated Discord user CLVelandDave combed through data from 2018-2022 to find out when the college hoops markets started to become more efficient. 


By looking at the standard deviation of games’ final scores relative to the closing line, we can see that there’s generally a trend toward efficiency in the second half of seasons that starts to show between weeks 8-11.

With most seasons starting in early November (the 2020-2021 Covid season’s Nov. 25 start date being an exception), that means markets begin to get more efficient right after bowl season ends in college football and conference play begins in college basketball.

This comes into play, too, when you’re tracking your closing line value. There’s not a lot of signal in early season CLV. It isn’t until conference play starts up that even sharp bettors start getting a good enough feel for these teams. 

You could have great CLV early in the year but lousy results. You could have terrible CLV and be raking in cash. It’s the peril of an inefficient market. 


College Hoops Efficiency Reveals an Overall Trend

While 2018-2020 show a fairly clear downward trend as the season progresses, there was a little reversal of course later in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. 

In each of those two, maximum efficiency happened in Week 13, with the market seemingly becoming less efficient through Week 20. 

It’s unclear right now if there’s been a fundamental change in the college basketball markets that offer an explanation of why this might be happening. 

Though it’s possible that these trends over the last few weeks of the last two seasons was just due to your favorite roller coaster operator, variance.



Overlaying the seasons we’re looking at here, Week 10 shows up as the dividing line. After that, markets stay more efficient when you look at five seasons’ worth of data.

Now that we’re heading into the heart of the college hoops season, the roller coaster looks like it might be done with the loops and barrel rolls. If you’re a top-down bettor, you’re just pulling into the station. 

If you’re looking to get started with Unabated’s tools to jump into the college basketball markets, schedule a demo today and get a free five-day trial for participating. 

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