It’s time to start a new weekly tradition — a weekly look back at the highs and lows of the week in college basketball betting. As the season goes on we’ll hit on the games that made people feel like geniuses, and those that were frustrating enough to make them consider giving up sports betting entirely. To start with, here are seven teams that have stood out for their exploits this past week:
Memphis — The Tigers were a top 20 team heading into the week, but things really couldn’t have gone worse for them. Their trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis should have been a long weekend in paradise, but it certainly wasn’t. They opened up by getting soundly beaten by VCU — and badly outcoached by Shaka Smart in clutch time as well. Then they pouted their way through a loss to Minnesota. They managed just a touch of redemption when the beat Northern Iowa to close out the tournament, but even that game was tougher than it should have been. They are now just 1-4 ATS on the year, and have a whole lot of work to do to prove that they are the team pollsters thought they were to start the season.
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Duke — The Blue Devils are very good, and this week has certainly proved that. They are 7-0 this year, but what stands out is how incredibly tough the schedule they have faced has been. Ohio State and Louisville were top five teams. Kentucky is Kentucky. VCU is tough. Minnesota is feisty. Not only has no team played a schedule this tough yet, but no team will have played a tougher schedule by the time conference play starts. Most impressively, the team is 4-1 ATS in their five games against elite competition, so they are certainly strong.
UNLV — We have learned so far this year that the Rebels have a very special player in Anthony Bennett. He looks as much like a freshman as I look like a gymnast. In a very disappointing performance against Oregon, though, we also learned that the team has some work to do if they want to live up to their potential. They were favored by 11.5 points and were playing at home, so they had no excuses. They were behind at the half, though, and were flat instead of fierce in the second half. It’s far from a fatal loss, but it isn’t comforting.
Creighton — I was poised to be very positive about the Bluejays here. They started the season 6-0 (4-0 ATS), and beat Arizona State and Wisconsin to win the Las Vegas Invitational. They were a very good team that was ranked 14th and was poised to climb higher. But then Wednesday night happened. They were at home against Boise State. The Broncos are very good at football, but not even relevant on the basketball court. They were 13 point underdogs, but somehow won by 13. It was a massive setback for the Bluejays, and it remains to be seen how they can bounce back.
UCLA — We are at the point now where there is no debate left to be had — Ben Howland unquestionably has to go. He obviously has the ability to be a very good coach, but he has totally lost control of this team. In the past week they lost by eight to Georgia Tech as 6.5 point favorites, and barely beat Georgia as 12.5 point favorites. Capping that all off, they completely humiliated themselves by losing at home to Cal Poly SLO — as 18.5 point underdogs. Plus, junior center Joshua Smith, a former five star recruit, left the team after constant struggles with weight issues, and Tyler Lamb transferred on Sunday. Now they are left with just eight scholarship players — and four are freshmen. The Bruins are a total mess.
Colorado — Unlike their football team, the basketball Buffaloes are a very well coached team clearly moving in the right direction. They are 6-0 to start the season, and 4-1 ATS. On Tuesday night, though, they endured a scare that could either be a big lesson for this team or a real setback. Hosting Texas Southern, a team from the SWAC that was just 1-5 heading into the game, should have been very easy for Colorado. Instead it was scary and almost humiliating. Colorado had to fight hard just to get to overtime. They pulled out an 85-80 win, but it wasn’t pretty. At the very least, the team needs to be far more focused if they want to better their one win at the NCAA tournament last year.
Indiana — The Hoosiers had been solid this year, though the fact they needed overtime against Georgia Tech was a mild concern. Still, they had done enough to hold onto their number one ranking. But then their Big Ten-ACC Challenge showdown with North Carolina happened. The Tar Heels aren’t quite as good as they have been in recent years, but they are still a legitimate top 15 team. Indiana made them look absolutely ridiculous. In a performance as dominant as is possible, Indiana was up by nine at the half, and then exploded in the second half to widen the gap to 24 points. Defensively the Hoosiers proved themselves, but what really stood out was just how brutally efficient this team is. They are very legitimate. Given how god they are, how impressive Michigan has been, and how deep the rest of the conference has been, the Big Ten season can’t start soon enough. This could be a battle for the ages.