College Basketball Betting: Weekly Atlantic 10 Report
by Christopher G. Shepard - 02/25/2009
Last week featured two significant upsets of two A-10 leaders as Xavier fell three spots in the AP Top 25 from No. 16 to No. 19 after being upset by Charlotte on Feb 19, 60-65, while Dayton's stay in the AP Top 25 was short-lived as the Flyers lost to St. Louis Feb. 21, 49-57.
Last week in A-10 clashes favorites barely prevailed, going 7-6 against the number. However, those same games saw the under go a phenomenal 11-2. I'll see if this trend continues during the final grind into the conference championships in Atlantic City from March 11-14.
The A-10 top casher honors this week go again to the St. Louis. While the Billikens' 11-10 overall against the spread record is hardly impressive; consider that the Billikens are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games. Meanwhile, Fordham is proving just as reliable, the opposite way, as the Rams are currently 0-6 SU and ATS in their last six games.
Undervalued ATS Team
St. Louis (17-10 SU, 11-10 ATS, 8-5 A-10) was my undervalued team ATS two weeks ago and they have not lost ATS since. The Billikens have posted a 6-2 SU and 8-0 ATS since the end of January. One reason for the Billikens late season surge is freshman guard Kwamain Mitchell. Mitchell earned his second consecutive A-10 Rookie of the Week honors as he averaged 12.5 points in two victories last week. Against St. Josephs on Feb. 18 Mitchell scored a team-high 17 points and notched eight points in a win against Dayton on Feb 21. Excellence at the guard position is not limited to Mitchell. Senior guard Kevin Lisch has been a stud, while carrying the scoring for the Billikens as well as being a monster on the boards. Lisch has averaged 14.3 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game and dropped five free throws in the last minute to help SLU upset Dayton.
The Billikens have now won six of their last seven games and are 8-5 in A-10 play. This has moved St. Louis one loss behind Rhode Island for fourth place in the A-10 and a possible first round bye in the conference tournament. With three games remaining on their conference schedule the Billikens have already recorded one more win than last year. Second year Coach Rick Majerus' team is playing as good as any team in the league and should still be counted on to cover in their sole game this week against St. Bonaventure.
Another team I am putting in this category are the Temple Owls. The Owls have quietly moved up in the conference standings. Temple's Dionte Christmas is a finalist for the Naismith Trophy this year and the Owls are currently enjoying a 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS record in their last five games and are playing very well right now. At 15-9-1 the Owls have the best record ATS of any team in the A-10, which makes them a "play on" in my book.
Overvalued ATS Teams
Set as home favorites, the LaSalle Explorers (14-12, 9-11-1 ATS, 5-7 A-10) dropped two games SU and ATS last week to Richmond and Duquesne. Against Duquesne the Explorers killed themselves due to poor perimeter shooting, missing on 13-of-16 attempts. Richmond came up with an excellent plan of a matchup zone defense, which created a lot of trouble in finding open looks for LaSalle. And when they did, the Explorers couldn't get the ball to drop. Of course part of the reason for the two losses last week might be a monster let down after defeating St. Joe's on Valentine's Day.
The pair of losses dropped LaSalle to 5-7 in the A-10 and the Explorers are tied for ninth place in the conference with only four games remaining. Things won't get any easier this week as the Explorers will travel to red-hot Temple (5-0 SU, 4-1 L5 games), who will most likely take a page out of the Spiders' book for Thursday's tilt. It appears that after a great start LaSalle is heading in the wrong direction as the season winds down and as opponents figure out how to contain the Explorers covering the number will prove difficult for John Giannini's team.
I am also advising against "playing on" St. Joes this week. This public team still gets a lot of love from the media and oddsmakers, despite the fact the Hawks are on an 0-4 SU and ATS slide.
ATS Surprise of the Week
It has been only six days (two games) since the Charlotte 49ers (10-16 SU, 8-15-1 ATS, 4-8 A-10) upset A-10 Conference leader Xavier at home on Feb. 19, 65-60, as 6.5-point underdogs. This is a game I had on my radar for this section. However, having been burned two weeks earlier on a similar play involving Charlotte at home against Rhode Island, I eschewed that for the UMASS-URI game; a bad choice.
Tonight the George Washington Colonials (8-16 SU, 8-10-1 ATS, 2-10 A-10) host the 49ers in a rematch from Valentine's Day when the 49ers won, 69-51, as 7.5-point favorite. The deciding factor for me in this game is the health of 49er's center Phil Jones, who sat out the 49ers last game a loss on the road against Richmond on Feb. 21, 58-65). Jones logs 25 minutes a game and averages 7.2 points per game. If you are thinking of investing in this game you should note that Jones is listed as questionable for tonight's tilt against GW (as of my deadline).
There is also another consideration when betting on Charlotte; they haven't won or covered a road game since beating Mississippi State on Dec. 10, 2008, 70-64. The 49ers will definitely have to improve on their shooting as they'll face a GW team that destroyed St. Bonaventure in the Colonials last home game on Feb. 19, 90-62. I see the Colonials as a nifty ATS surprise this week against a 49ers team that can't win on the road.