College Basketball Betting: Weekly Cheat Sheet
by Trevor Whenham - 01/23/2009
The Last of the Unbeatens
Last year, Memphis made it all the way to the 23rd of February before losing their first game. It didn't take nearly as long this time around. Fresh off of earning their unlikely No. 1 seed, Wake Forest had an embarrassing setback at home on Wednesday night when they lost to Virginia Tech. The Demon Deacons had won 27 of 29 home games, so they had no real excuse for losing to a team like Virginia Tech. Hokies' coach Seth Greenberg is a master of motivating his team for the biggest games, though. Even though he hasn't turned this team into an elite squad, this is the second time in three years that the Hokies have knocked off a No. 1 team. Last time around it was the Tar Heels.
The concern for Wake Forest backers is that the team just didn't look very good. They were favored by 13, yet they lost by seven at home, and it wasn't particularly close. That's a problem because the next five games are ugly. They have Duke up next, host Boston College, and have three road games. If they don't get their heads back in the game then they could fall hard and fast from their top ranking.
Not The Only Upset
Wednesday was a rough day for top seeds. Northwestern traveled to East Lansing and stunned the Spartans as 12-point underdogs. It was an incredibly unlikely victory for the Wildcats - Michigan State had won 28 games in a row at home, and hadn't lost to Northwestern in 12 games. The loss was costly for the Spartans. They are still alone in first place in the Big Ten, but this gives Illinois and Purdue renewed life.
The win capped a big week for the Wildcats. They beat Minnesota in the previous game, and the covered against Purdue before that. After a rough start, Northwestern has found some form. They still can't be mistaken for a good team, but they certainly have some highlights. Chief among those is guard Craig Moore. He shoots from the perimeter as well as any player out there.
The Forgotten Ones
A few teams fell off the public radar with early wins, but they are getting their jobs done under less public scrutiny. Here's a look at three:
Memphis - The Tigers dropped a game against Syracuse before Christmas. That was their third loss and knocked them to just 6-3. They have turned things around since, though. They have won nine in a row since, including all five conference games, and they are 6-2 ATS over that stretch. They are back in the polls now, but they still don't seem to be getting the respect from bettors that they probably deserve. Freshman Tyreke Evans has become much more comfortable, and will only improve as March draws nearer.
Siena - The Saints were a trendy preseason pick this year. No team gets more credit for scheduling tough. The problem is that they didn't look particularly good in those tough games - they lost all five games to good non-conference opponents. Now no one cares about Siena. Well out of the public eye, the Saints are on a roll. They have won all eight of their conference games, and they have looked good doing it. They haven't been overpowering, but they keep wining, and there is no reason to believe that they won't.
Gonzaga - Some touted the Bulldogs as a Final Four team before the season, but the early season was rough on them. A win over Tennessee in the first game of the New Year was a sign of a return to form, and so far they have rolled through WCC play. Next week's game against St. Mary's will be a test of where both teams are at. A win there and Gonzaga will be right back where we are used to seeing them.
North Carolina Rebounds
After two losses in just over a week it was tempting to think that something was wrong with the Tar Heels. Since then, though, they have looked like they have clearly remembered how to play again. They crushed two flyweights in Virginia and Miami. Next up was Clemson, a recently unbeaten team that had looked very good. North Carolina humiliated them. They were favored by 13, and won by 24. It was as complete and solid a game as North Carolina has played since they beat Michigan State. The result was decisive and comforting, but it shouldn't come as much surprise - Clemson has now lost all 54 games they have played in Chapel Hill. UNC should now be reasonably unchallenged until they play Duke on Feb. 11. If they can maintain the form they have shown in the last three games then that game should be at least as good as it has the potential to be.