College Basketball Betting: Top 25 Squads That Burn Money
by Matt Severance - 02/05/2009
My challenge in this article was to find a Top-25 quality, NCAA Tournament-bound team that was not exactly playing like a power team when it came to the spread.
I narrowed my list to three choices (all numbers entering Thursday):
Dayton, which is tied for second in the country with 21 wins and could challenge Xavier for the Atlantic 10 title, is just 8-10 ATS overall. And the Flyers are 14-0 at home but only 3-7-0 ATS there.
North Carolina had odds on some books as going undefeated this year, but then the Heels started 0-2 in ACC play. Still, this team is unchallenged offensively with its depth, so you would expect plenty of blowouts and, thus, covers. But UNC is just 9-11 overall ATS and 3-7-0 at the Dean Smith Center. With the Heels now having lost three players from their rotation for the season (Marcus Ginyard, Tyler Zeller and Will Graves), they might not quite be the powerhouse many expected.
Florida is my choice for the most "overrated" good team when it comes to the spread. Billy Donovan's Gators lead the SEC East and are 19-4 overall yet are just 6-9-1 ATS and 3-5-0 at home, where they are 14-0 overall.
So what's the deal? Well, Florida remains a very young team, so you are going to get some uneven performances. But the top reason is that the Gators are too dependent on one player, sophomore Nick Calathes, a guard who leads the team in scoring (18.1 ppg) and assists (6.4) and is second in rebounding (5.3). He also handles the ball way more than any other player.
"He's a terrific shooter, probably the best passer in the league, maybe the best passer in college basketball for that matter," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said to reporters before a recent loss to Florida. "He just does a great job of running their offense. They play through him." Let's take UF's 16-point road loss to Tennessee on Jan. 31 as a prime example of Calathes' value to the Gators. Calathes was in foul trouble in the first half vs. the Vols, sitting for 11 minutes and scoring just six points. Florida was outscored by 17. In the second half, Calathes avoided the fouls and scored 15 points as UF outscored Tennessee by a point. In a 97-93 win over South Carolina on Tuesday night, Calathes scored 22 points.
Because he is the primary ball-handler, all of the Gators struggle when he does or when he is forced to the sideline - it's then when UF really misses point guard Jai Lucas, who transferred in part because he knew Calathes was going to be dominating the ball.
Long story short: When you bet on the 2008-09 Gators, you are betting on one person for the most part.
Florida is off this weekend and next at Kentucky on ESPN Tuesday night. UF lost by five the last time the two played, in March 2008, but Florida is a solid 3-2-1 ATS on the road this season. Calathes and UK's Jodie Meeks could put on a show in Lexington.