College Basketball Handicapping: Bottom 5 ATS Money Burners
by Aaron Smith - 1/23/2013
There aren’t any unbeaten teams left in college basketball. While a team’s overall win/loss record gets the most publicity in the media,, to a bettor it really is who covers the spread that matters most.
Last week, we took a look at the teams with the best record against the spread. This week, we’ll look at the bottom five teams ATS. Most of these are teams that aren’t really household names. Should you continue to bet against them or are they going to be undervalued and turn it around soon? Let’s look at each team on a case-by-case basis. Statistics used are for games from the beginning of the season through Jan. 22.
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Bottom Five College Basketball ATS Teams This Season
1. Marshall Thundering Herd (2-10-1 ATS) Marshall went 21-14 last year, but the team is only 9-9 overall this year. When it comes to covering the number, they have been terrible. Marshall has covered the number only twice in 13 lined games this year. DeAndre Kane did miss four games earlier this year, and Kane is the team’s most talented player. Marshall has actually covered two of their last three games, and Kane has had his best games of the year in those two games. If Kane is indeed fully healthy, the Thundering Herd might be able to turn it back around and get on a positive run. One thing to watch is Marshall’s free throw percentage. The Thundering Herd are shooting just 57.4 percent from the charity stripe this year. That number will have to move up if Marshall is going to make any noise.
2. Northern Colorado Bears (3-11 ATS) Northern Colorado is a small school in the Big Sky Conference. The Bears have typically been very good at home, but they haven’t played much at home this year. The Bears are 1-8 ATS away from home this year. They are 2-3 ATS at home. The Bears have actually covered in two straight games, and both of those were at home. They’ll be on the road for four of their next six games, so don’t expect this winning streak to last very long. Northern Colorado is too reliant on the three-point shot. The Bears shoot 37 percent from beyond the arc, but they don’t play any defense. This might be a good team to back when they are at home later this year, but don’t come close to them on the road.
3. IUPUI Jaguars (4-14 ATS) A couple years ago the Jaguars were one of the best teams in the Summit League with Ron Hunter as their coach. Hunter is now at Georgia State, and IUPUI’s basketball program has really gone downhill quickly over the last couple years. Opponents are shooting an astronomical 55.5 percent from the floor on two-point shots against the Jaguars. It’s hard to win games or cover spreads when the opposition is getting easy buckets on the inside constantly. The Jaguars are giving up 76.2 points per game this year. IUPUI was beaten 78-40 at home by North Dakota State last week. It’s hard to imagine this team turning it around any time soon.
4. Buffalo Bulls (4-12 ATS) The Buffalo Bulls have won at least 20 games in three of the past four seasons, but they won’t be getting to 20 wins this year. The Bulls have a star in Javon McCrea, but he doesn’t have enough help. How good is McCrea? He leads the team in points per game, assists, rebounds, field goal percentage, steals, and blocked shots. There’s clearly nothing that he can’t do. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they don’t have five McCreas to put in the starting lineup. Jared Oldham was the team’s best guard, but he was injured in December and may miss the rest of the year with a serious wrist injury. The Bulls just don’t have the kind of guards necessary to be competitive in a solid Mid American Conference. Look for it to be a long season for the Bulls.
5. Richmond Spiders (4-12 ATS) Richmond is probably the biggest name on this list. The Spiders are just two years removed from a Sweet 16 appearance. Richmond is 12-7 overall, so they have been winning some games, but they aren’t covering the number. What’s to blame for their underperformance? Richmond is playing without star forward Derrick Williams right now. Williams averages 14 points and seven boards per game. He is expected to be out a couple more weeks. The team’s single biggest weakness is rebounding, and without Williams they lose their best rebounder. This team still does a lot of things well, and I wouldn’t count them out. Don’t be surprised if they bounce back and get on a nice roll once they get healthy again.
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