Worst 10 Major Conference Schools ATS
by Jason Owens - 02/11/2008
Some of these teams are riding the laurels of past performances. Some of them have suffered injuries or failed to live up to preseason hype. Some of them are just plain bad. Regardless of the reason, the following 10 teams have proven to be consistent losers against the spread and should be avoided by college basketball bettors. From the bottom up, here are the 10 major conference teams with the worst ATS records.
Rutgers (6-15 ATS/10-15 Overall)
Rutgers' biggest problem is that its starting point guard is a freshman not named Derrick Rose. Corey Chandler is sporting a .4-to-1assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4 assists and 3.2 turnovers per game) and that's bad news for fans and bettors.
The Scarlet Knights are just 2-9 in Big East play and have laid eggs in tough non-conference matchups with Florida and North Carolina. While they're a competent defensive squad, they average just 62.7 points per game thanks in large part to erratic play at the point. When they face the likes of conference powers Georgetown or Pittsburgh, they just don't have the firepower to keep up.
When a freshman or backup point guard is running the show, be afraid. Be very afraid.
N.C. State (5-14-1/15-8)
Unlike Rutgers, N.C. State isn't a bad team. It just isn't a very good team. The Wolfpack entered the season with high hopes after advancing to the ACC Championship final under first-year coach Sidney Lowe in 2007. The media picked the Wolfpack to finish third in the ACC behind North Carolina and Duke. While the Heels and Blue Devils are fresh off a top-three matchup, N.C. State finds itself in the middle of the conference pack at 4-4 and struggling to figure out its point guard situation.
The Wolfpack took a big blow in December when starting point guard Farnold Degand suffered a season-ending ACL tear. He led the team in assists, three-point percentage and, most importantly, stability. Javier Gonzalez is the latest plug-in, but he's shooting at a miserable 31 percent clip from the field and 25 percent rate from behind the arc while averaging 1.6 assists per game. Like Rutgers, N.C. State is a broken offensive machine as demonstrated by its 13-point first half in a blowout loss to North Carolina. Combine that with the big expectations coming into the season and inflated odds by the bookies, and the Wolfpack don't have a chance to cover the spread.
Villanova is suffering from Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. Lately it's been more Hyde than Jekyll. The Wildcats broke the century-mark in consecutive December wins over Temple and Hartford but recently suffered a 77-55 loss to a less-than-stellar St. Joseph's team. That's enough to keep any bettor away.
Once a top-20 team, Villanova has hit a wall in Big East play en route to a 3-6 conference record and a five-game losing streak. The formula that led to early season success isn't working in the rough and tumble Big East. While Villanova was able to simply outscore its preseason opponents, Big East play commands defense and toughness, which Villanova hasn't shown.
Because of its 10-1 start against a soft schedule, the Wildcats have been overvalued in the polls and by the sports books. Conference play isn't going to get any easier as March approaches; don't expect the Wildcats to return to early-season form.
Michigan is the poster team for exaggerated expectations. For years, the media and its fan base have overvalued Michigan as an elite basketball program with fond Memories of Glen Rice jump shots and Chris Webber Final Fours. But in the wake of the Fab Five scandal from the early 90s that left the program reeling and stripped of postseason banners, the Wolverines have fallen to the wayside of regular Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State, a revival in Indiana and new kid on the block Illinois. Michigan simply isn't an elite program in its own conference, much less the national stage.
Bring in decorated coach John Beilein fresh off of four NCAA bids in five years at West Virginia, and the expectations are even less realistic. Beilein's a proven coach with 10 NCAA postseason appearances in the last 15 years, but he's not the miracle worker the fans and evidently the oddsmakers expect him to be. He's working with a roster full of less-than-blue-chip underclassmen left by the fired Tommy Amaker and these kids just aren't ready to compete on a national level. Give Beilein some time and Michigan should work itself back to being an NCAA Tournament player and a better bet. Until he brings his own players in, keep expectations tempered.
Florida State (7-14/14-10)
The Seminoles are a hard team to read. They pulled off early season wins over Florida and Minnesota en route to a 9-2 start, but recently lost six of seven in ACC play. As always, they're a tough out at home against the conference blue bloods. Duke needed a late surge and North Carolina needed overtime to top the 'Noles. But they turned around to lose by 17 to Wake Forest and at home to N.C. State. Neither of those teams is destined for postseason greatness.
To make matter worse, starting guard Isaiah Swann is out indefinitely with an ACL tear, leaving FSU without a senior leader and one of the top long-range threats in the ACC.
Like Villanova, Florida State looked like an NCAA Tournament team early on, but has pushed itself out of the picture with poor conference play. Also like Villanova, the Seminoles have been overvalued and haven't yet met Vegas expectations.
Instability has been Washington's biggest problem. Essentially a two-man team in Jon Brockman and Ryan Appleby, the Huskies have struggled to establish a regular rotation. Head coach Lorenzo Romar has had 10 different players in his starting lineup, eight of whom have started at least seven games. Only Brockman, who averages 18.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, has started every game.
That doesn't work in the Pac-10, the nation's toughest conference. The Huskies haven't been competitive in posting a 3-7 mark to start conference play. Appleby, a shooting guard and the second scoring option, has provided more stability since missing the first seven games of the season with a broken thumb. But that's not enough. It's tough to bet on a team when you don't even know who's going to be in the starting lineup. A big win against UCLA on Sunday has this team possibly on the upswing, though.
Alabama (6-12, 13-11)
Alabama's biggest problem is the loss of star point guard Ronald Steele, who is sitting out the entire season with bad knees. Without his leadership, the Crimson Tide, which still has talent with Richard Hendrix and Alonzo Gee, has underachieved and struggled in SEC play.
The Tide got off to a 10-3 start but have since been one of the biggest disappointments in the SEC. Their only conference wins have come against Auburn (2-6, SEC) and LSU (1-7). It's not exactly the performance expected of a team with one of the best big men in the game in Hendrix (19 points, 10.3 rebounds per game).
Their point spreads have been all over the board with big wins over George Washington (36 points) and Iowa State (15 points) and ugly losses against Clemson (26 points) and Texas A&M (13 points). Alabama's simply too much of a wild card to be a good bet.
It's been a quick slide from the top after the Illini's Big Ten title and appearance in the 2005 national title game. This year's team has been particularly disappointing. Head coach Bruce Weber is under intense fire for his lack of recruiting success, especially after losing Eric Gordon to conference rival Indiana. Trent Meacham and Demetri McCamey are a far cry from Deron Williams and Dee Brown.
Like Michigan, Illinois seems to be a case of brand over substance - only on a shorter term. The Illini don't have the talent to compete in the Big Ten, but people still associate the team with a winner. In reality Illinois is 2-9 in conference, and there's not much reason to expect improvement. Weber continues to load up on two and three-star prospects without any blue-chippers in sight. It's best to avoid Illinois now and in the foreseeable future.
Oklahoma State (5-10/11-12)
The Cowboys sorely miss Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry. With the loss of last year's leading scorers, Oklahoma State is struggling to find reliable offensive options. As a team, the Cowboys are shooting just 43 percent from the field and none of their top three scorers shoot better than 44 percent.
Like any Eddie Sutton-coached team, the Cowboys play solid defense, but the offense is too unreliable to be a safe bet, despite playing in the mediocre Big 12. They're off to a 2-7 start in conference and haven't won a road game all season. This team is in rebuilding mode. Until the offense improves, stay away.
Nebraska is another case of a team being done in by its own early-season success. The 'Huskers shot out to an 11-2 start that included wins over Arizona State, Oregon and Rutgers. While those wins upped Nebraska's value, the cupcake portion of its schedule (including N.C. Central, Presbyterian and IPFW) didn't do much to prepare it for conference play.
Since starting Big 12 play, Nebraska hasn't looked good. The 'Huskers are 3-5 in conference play with blowout losses to Kansas (by 21 and 35) and Kansas State (15) and a bad loss to cellar-dweller Colorado.
Nebraska also has the old standby red flag with a freshman starting point guard. Cookie Miller hasn't been bad with a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and 4.1 assists per game. But he's far from a top-tier talent and is still getting his feet wet on the college level.