College Basketball Betting: Weekly Atlantic 10 Report
by Christopher G. Shepard - 01/07/2009
Dayton sits atop the Atlantic 10 standings as the Flyers are off to their second consecutive 13-1 start to the season as the conference begins league play this weekend. Leading up to conference play in the last 10 days teams comprising the Atlantic 10 went 9-9-1 against the spread and notched a 19-10 straight-up win record.
The conference has 15 wins versus BCS teams, which is good enough for the most compiled by any non-BCS league and good enough for fourth nationally of all conferences behind the ACC (24), Big East (21), Big 12 (19), and Big Ten (18). Atlantic 10 teams have played 18 nationally ranked opponents as of Jan. 5 and have won only four of those contests with the last being UMASS' 61-60 upset at Kansas on Dec. 13.
Gamblers looking for a trends should note that Xavier's 84-70 covering win as a 3.5-point road 'chalk' pushed the 'over' to 6-0 in the Musketeers' last six listed games. The George Washington Colonials have won their last four consecutive league openers, the most for any team in the Atlantic 10. Xavier has the second longest streak at three. The worst performing teams in league openers are the Temple Owls who have dropped three straight followed by Fordham, LaSalle, and St. Joseph's who have all dropped their last two openers.
Overvalued ATS Teams
St. Josephs (6-7 SU, 4-6-1 ATS), UMASS (5-8 SU, 2-7-1) and George Washington (6-6 SU, 2-5 ATS) lead the list of teams who are having a hard time getting out of their own way.
Last week UMASS got destroyed at Vanderbilt, 78-48, as a one-point home 'chalk.' This was the Minutemen's second straight loss SU and ATS. UMASS' perimeter defense is killing the Minutemen and until they improve in this area sharp-shooting teams will have an edge. Vandy used three straight three-pointers to break open a 34-point second half lead.
The St. Joseph's Hawks covered their last contest as three-point favorites against Ball State. However, considering the win broke a three-game losing SU and ATS streak and that they open up their league play hosting Rhode Island, things don't look to get any better for the mercurial Hawks.
George Washington's season hit the nadir this past week as the Colonials dropped their fourth straight against Longwood, 78-80. The Colonials are 0-3 ATS in their last three listed games. The story for the Colonials is that turnovers, rebounding differential, and poor defense are killing them; Longwood scored 18 points off 13 turnovers in the win.
Undervalued ATS Team
Picked to finish last in the Atlantic 10 by prognosticators this year the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (9-4 SU, 3-4-1 ATS) won their ninth game by beating Central Arkansas, 68-58, on Jan. 3 to improve to 5-0 on the road this season (the first time since 1967-68 season). Their nine wins have eclipsed last year's total from all of last season (they won eight games last season). The Bonnies have a favorable first three games in league play as they will open their season traveling to Fordham on Jan. 7 and then will host Duquesne on the 10th and St. Joseph's on the 14th. Fordham should pose little difficulty for St. Bonaventure SU and ATS while Duquesne and St. Josephs are both winnable if the Bonnies can continue to get strong play from their deep bench; super-sub junior Ray Blackburn has seven straight games with 10-plus points. Despite for being tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 St. Bonaventure carries the mantle of an Atlantic 10 cellar dweller and that makes the Bonnies undervalued in my book.
ATS Surprise of the Week
The LaSalle Explorers (8-5 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) start conference play by hosting the Temple Owls (6-6 SU, 6-5 ATS) on Jan. 11 and then they travel to Charlotte on the 14th and Xavier on the 18th. To avoid going 0-3 LaSalle will have to find a way to win at home against the owls in their Atlantic 10 opener. The Explorers are 2-2 ATS at home this season but are 6-2 SU over that same time period. LaSalle also has to get over a two-game losing streak in their last two league openers.
What bodes well for the Explorers is in home games they are +6.8 points per game vs. Temple's -2.4 scoring differential on away games. Both teams had a common opponent against Villanova. On Dec. 29 Temple got manhandled as nine-point underdogs and lost, 45-62. LaSalle hosted the Wildcats and lost as 9.5-point underdogs, 59-70, on Dec. 14. In their last outings both teams dominated their respective opponents with the Explorer's beating Manhattan, 89-64, and covering the 7.5 points at home while the Owls beat Kent State on Monday, 73-58, as 7.5-point home favorite.
The Owls will likely be favored in this contest, but not by much. The Owls have been relying too much on Dionte Christmas to produce on offense while not giving him much support otherwise. In the loss against Long Beach State Christmas scored 11 of his 19 points in the final two minutes of the game. It's increasingly apparent that if teams can stop or slow down Christmas they have a good chance of beating the Owls. Considering how well the Explorers have crashed the boards and played stifling defense I look for the them to surprise Temple in their league opener.