College Basketball Betting: Weekly Atlantic 10 Report
by Christopher G. Shepard - 12/29/2008
The holiday sandwich, the time between end of exams and the beginning of conference play, was especially brutal for the Atlantic 10 in a week that only featured five games of which teams were 2-3 straight up and 0-4 against the spread.
Gamblers betting on the A-10 should be aware that as of Dec. 28, of the A-10's 62 non-conference losses 33 percent (or 21 games) have been decided by four points or less. Xavier's 74-65 loss to Butler last Tuesday pushed the 'over' trend to five consecutive games.
I have said this several times already in this space but cannot stress the importance of betting against Fordham in all their listed games. Sure, the Rams may have covered a whopping 14.3 percent of their games to go 1-6 ATS this season, with their lone cover coming as a 7.5-point home underdog on Dec. 11.
Certainly, the Rams have improved over the last few weeks and actually won two games and lost a buzzer-beater to Fairfield in their only cover of the year, but their performance against Tennessee-Martin on Sunday night at FIU Holiday Tournament in Miami as 5.5-point underdogs showed how far the Rams still need to improve. They will play FIU (who covered against the Skyhawks as 3.5-point 'dogs) tonight and if there is a line on this game you should know what to do.
Overvalued ATS Team
The Xavier Musketeers get the distinction this week of being my overvalued A-10 team. They have already tumbled out of the AP Top 10 and currently sit at No.14/No.12 in the polls. One major problem for the Musketeers is that they are at 12th in the conference in turnover margin and last in the league in assists, which is part of the reason that despite their 9-2 record Xavier is 4-6 ATS. For some reason Xavier has had trouble after playing Cincinnati. Since reaching a season-high ranking of No. 7 and playing the Bearcats the Musketeers have not won or covered the spread. Xavier will host Robert Morris and then travel to Virginia before starting conference play against St. Louis. But given the public perception versus the reality you'll see an inflated line that I believe won't reflect accurately the measure of the Musketeers, which is why I have them as an overvalued team right now from a betting perspective.
Undervalued ATS Team
I think we can all agree that St. Bonaventure (7-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) has been the feel good story of the A-10 this year. Behind the 6'9" Andrew Nicholson the Bonnies are becoming a dominating presence in the paint and have a tough frontcourt that forces opponents to reckon with them. The Bonnies have also been doing it by being stingy on offense and not turning over the ball as they are the Top 3 in the conference. Despite the fact the Bonnies lost to a tough-as-nails Niagra Purple Eagles team that dropped 40 points on the Bonnies in the first half. While they lost SU and ATS against Niagra, I love them to start covering once conference play commences.
ATS Surprise of the Week
Fresh off hitting their first triple-digit scoring output since 2004 when they lost to Alabama, 103-101, in triple OT, the Charlotte 49ers (4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS) will attempt their fourth consecutive win against Long Island University on Tuesday before their penultimate non-conference game at Maryland (9-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) on Jan. 3.
49er's Head Coach Bobby Lutz has done a better job of running set plays but is getting stymied before it really starts going. Despite leading the Niners with 12 points per game and 5 rebounds per game, senior forward Lamont Mack, once projected as an A-10 first teamer, will have to live up to his billing if the Niners have a hope of being competitive in this game. Mack has been a disappointment this year leading the team with 31 turnovers on 34 percent FG shooting. He has been helped greatly by senior guard DiJuan Harris who has been running the offense well in the 49ers last few games. Keep in mind that earlier in this season when the 49ers were 2-5 their games were decided by eight points or less.
Maryland is always dangerous in non-conference play and against the A-10 this year they already beat up on George Washington, 76-53, easily covering the number as a 4.5-point 'chalk.' However, since that decisive victory against an overmatched Colonials' squad, the Terps have played NCAAB basketball powerhouses Delaware State, American, and Bryant University to bring their record to 9-2. In two of those matches the Terps held both Bryant and American teams to 51 points. But the 49ers will be harder to contain on offense than those three aforementioned schools. In fact, against their two toughest opponents -- Gonzaga and Georgetown -- the Terps got schooled, losing SU and ATS on their way to a three-game ATS losing streak. Maryland plays host to Elon on Dec. 30 before hosting the 49ers. Two out of three covers for Maryland came on neutral ground and I think Charlotte, who has covered their last three in a row will get Maryland in a good spot. If you don't feel comfortable backing Charlotte in this one keep in mind that this year the under has cashed in five of six listed totals in Maryland's games.