College Basketball Betting: Weekly Atlantic 10 Report
by Christopher G. Shepard - 11/26/2008
The first week of the college basketball season was not without its surprises as Atlantic 10 teams managed to make some noise in the various tournaments with Xavier, Dayton, and Duquesne remaining undefeated. However, Temple was the only team to notch a 3-0 record against the spread.
As a conference the A-10 went an unremarkable 15-15-1 ATS last week. However, included within the 15 covers was Xavier beating Memphis, St. Louis beating Boston College, and St. Bonaventure beating Rutgers while La Salle gave Connecticut all they could handle. Richmond almost won at the Carrier Dome and 10 days ago Rhode Island stormed Cameron Indoor to lose by a mere three points to the Blue Devils.
As of Tuesday night the A-10 is 4-9 against BCS conference teams and as a league the A-10 appears they'll give teams from the big conferences all they can handle and, in quite a few instances, be able to cover the spread given the right matchups. In fact, the A-10 handed the ACC its first two non-conference losses (it could have been four had Duke and UCONN not pulled out wins in the last minutes of their games) as Xavier edged out Virginia Tech and St. Louis surprised Boston College.
Among the notable A-10 performers last week was Dayton who improved to 3-0 at home and during that same span held its opponents to under 50 points for the first time since the 1947-48 season. Forward Chris Wright is definitely back for the Flyers. Keep in mind last year he was part of the reason UD jumped out to a 13-1 record until Wright broke his ankle. Without Wright the Flyers went 9-9. So far this season Wright is averaging 14.7 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, and 24.3 minutes per game. If Wright can stay healthy all year Dayton should be able to continue winning throughout the season.
Despite their 1-3 record La Salle's two games at the Paradise Jam went over the posted total and the Explorers have a 1-0-1 record ATS. One reason for their scoring onslaught is Junior guard Rodney Green who scored 25 points against UCONN and 22 against Southern Mississippi. Green is an exciting versatile player who can step up in big games. Green leads the team in scoring with 14.4 PPG this year a full point higher than last year's 13.4 PPG.
There are a few reasons Temple is 3-1 SU and 3-0 ATS. Dionte Christmas has not disappointed; in his first four games Christmas is averaging 23.8 PPG and almost nine RPG. However, the real reason the Owls are covering their games is because of the support Christmas has gotten from reserve guard freshman Ramone Moore. Off the bench Moore scored in double digits in his first three collegiate games. A deep bench has given Temple the best record ATS in the A-10. Looking at the Owls upcoming schedule Temple should continue their covering ways.
Overvalued ATS Teams
St Josephs, Charlotte and UMASS round out the bottom of the conference in SU and ATS wins. As I said last week I expected that these teams were overvalued and have gone a combined 3-6-1 ATS, but Charlotte at 2-2 ATS and St. Joes at 1-1-1 ATS are the only teams that have covered a game of the three teams. Losses at Holy Cross and Texas are not a good portent for St. Joes this season.
If there is a bright spot for the young UMASS Minutemen it's forward Tony Gaffney who had three double-doubles in the first four games and blocked eight shots against Jacksonville State. The loss to Jacksonville, however, was by far the worst loss by an A-10 team this season. Gaffney leads the A-10 in rebounds per game at 13.5. If Gaffney's play continues he should be able to really help the Minutemen rise up out of the A-10 cellar.
By beating Memphis last week Xavier sits atop the A-10 at 5-0 and is now ranked No.16 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, but has alternated ATS wins and losses with the under cashing in the Musketeers last three games. Despite their straight-up success Xavier is 2-2 ATS, cashing the only time they were set as an underdog to Memphis but losing ATS as a 2.5-point favorite to Virginia Tech and as a 17.5-point favorite to Toledo. Senior forward CJ Anderson has been a standout for Xavier and earned MVP honors for his super play at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Undervalued ATS Teams
Duquesne, LaSalle, St. Bonaventure and Richmond at the moment are all undervalued teams ATS. Duquesne is one of the youngest teams in the nation with eight scholarship freshman and sophomores but they aren't playing like it right now and, until further notice, should be a "play-on" team in their listed out-of-conference games.
For the Dukes it's their defensive success that has led to a 4-0 record SU and 1-0 ATS this year. Senior Guard Aaron Jackson's superior defense led to seven steals against St. Francis and a double-double against Furman, recording 20 points and 10 rebounds. If Jackson keeps up his high level of play I expect the Dukes to keep winning and covering their games.
By all rights LaSalle should be 4-0 ATS but blew it against Florida State down the stretch, losing as a 1.5-point dog, 61-64, in a game that was by all rights a win. The over has cashed in the Explorers' last three games.
However, the most undervalued team in the A-10 at this time is St. Bonaventure. Selected by most to finish last in the conference, the Bonnies have been a pleasant surprise and have notched a respectable 3-2 SU and 2-1 ATS record behind the play of 6-9 freshman forward Andrew Nicholson who has averaged 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and three blocks over two games. The Spiders almost came away from the Carrier Dome with a SU win, losing in the final moment to the Orangemen, 71-76, but preserving the cover as 16.5-point underdogs.
ATS Surprise of the Week
If the Fordham Rams have one thing going for them it's that the over is 3-0 in their past three games, but that is about all they have to cheer about. The Rams have yet to record their first win, but I think it could happen this week against Princeton. The Rams are listed as five-point favorites over the Tigers and considering their poor level of play it's almost a no-brainer to take Princeton and the points. But here is why I like the Rams to cover as my ATS Surprise of the week.
Against the Jaspers senior forward Chris Bethel played one of the best games of his career. Bethel, who averaged 3.1 ppg last year exploded for 24 points and was virtually unstoppable against Manhattan's big men. Bethel notched 10 rebounds as well. Bethel can't do it all on his own and will need his two freshman guards, Jio Fontan and Trey Blue, to play more consistently. Blue has converted 10-of-19 three pointers this year (against Princeton he'll need to continue his sharp shooting ways) and Fontan was able to beat his man down the lane the entire evening. Unfortunately for the Rams Fontan was 3-for-15 in field goal attempts, many of which should have been easy lay-ups. I look for Fontan to improve his FG percentage against the Tigers (it will be hard for it to get any worse).
This will be the first time in 20 years that Princeton plays at the very intimate Rose Hill Gym and it will be the Tigers' second consecutive game on the road. They have scored 55 points in their past two games and if Fordham can stop Tigers' freshman phenom Doug Davis, who has scored in double-digits in his first three games, and continue to build on the strength of their big man Bethel I see Fordham rolling to their first cover of the season with a double-digit win over the Tigers.