Overvalued College Basketball Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 12/12/2007
During the time when the college basketball season starts, college football and the NFL are in full swing, and the NBA is getting underway, so the attention of sports bettors is divided. With so many teams playing basketball there is way too much information out there for most people to process. Inevitably, that leads to teams being overvalued. Whether it is because bettors are making decisions about a team based on a reputation that represents last season more than this season, or because a team gets too much public attention and faces inflated college basketball lines, some teams make a habit of burning up bettor's money. Here's a look at six of the worst offenders. Avoiding them until they change their non-covering ways is a good move for the health of your wallet:
Maryland (6-4, 1-7 ATS) - The Terrapins are not nearly as good as they have been in the past, but bettors sure seem to think that they are. It must be the impressive play of sophomore guard Greivis Vasquez that attracts the action, but people keep backing them and they keep disappointing. Their only cover came against Illinois, and that's hardly an accomplishment - you'll see them on this list as well. They have failed to cover against good teams - UCLA, Boston College - and bad teams - Northeastern, North Florida. They don't discriminate when it comes to not living up to expectations.
Illinois (5-3, 2-6 ATS) - This seems to be a case where bettors have heard that this team could grow into a legitimate contender in a wide-open Big Ten and they assume that they have already arrived. Like Maryland, they also have failed to cover against Northeastern. Beyond that game, the Illini have been victimized by some oddly inflated lines - being favored by 22 against Weber St. or 19 against Northeastern, getting just seven against Duke, or being favored against ranked Arizona. They don't seem to have the record or roster this year to justify those lines, but the public seems to think so.
George Mason (7-3, 3-5 ATS) - The Patriots are doomed to be a curse for bettors. After their huge tournament run two years ago they stuck in the minds of bettors, they have a solid record, good prospects, and some buzz this year, and people are a sucker for Cinderella teams. That means that the public is consistently recognizing the team and betting on them, and lines are consistently being shaded up higher than they should be. Things went especially badly for bettors after the team started out at 4-0. Since then they have covered once in five tries. That one cover made it hard for casual bettors to ignore the team, as well - they were favored over Drexel by eight, but ended up winning, 85-38, in one of the craziest games of the year.
Houston (9-1, 2-4 ATS) - Maybe the strong start for the Cougars has bettors thinking back longingly to the days of Phi Slama Jama. This team has a flashy record, by they are a long way from those glory days. For one, they have got fat by feasting on a weak schedule - their toughest opponent has been VCU, and they lost by one. Their covering woes haven't been caused by terrible showings. They have just been faced with spreads that have been a little bigger than the team could handle - they beat Toledo by 11 when favored by 15, and Middle Tennessee St. by 15 when favored by 16.5 in their two most recent tries.
Memphis (7-0, 2-4-1 ATS) - If Memphis can survive the couple of challenges they face in December then there is a very good chance that they will hit the tournament as an undefeated top seed. Their impressive play and strong prospects for the future combined with the flashy play of Derrick Rose and the consistency of their stars like Chris Douglas-Roberts has them facing lines they can't consistently cover. Memphis doesn't need to be too worried about their ATS struggles, though - they have been favored by 22 or more in four of the five games they failed to cover in. Though they aren't covering they are still doing their job and winning in style.
UC Santa Barbara (9-1, 3-4 ATS) - The Gauchos are a team that shows up in the tournament once in a while, and they are the much-discussed alma mater of Jim Rome and others, so they are more familiar to sports fans than many schools of their size and sporting success. They came into the season with a solid team, and they have put together a solid record so far, so bettors are taking note. Too much note. After winning and covering their first two, they only covered once in their next five. Like Houston, they have been close to the spread several times, but the lines have been just a bit too high too often.