NCAA Hoops Betting: Under the Radar
by Christopher G. Shepard - 2/25/2010
As the twilight of the 2009-10 NCAA hoops season approaches and the dawn of Conference Tournaments edges onto the horizon, keeping a steady diet of under-the-radar teams will keep you in good stead come March. Here are three teams that should increase your bankroll the last week of February.
Western Illinois (13-14 SU, 8-1-0 ATS, +690) The Leathernecks will try to avenge two home losses earlier in the season to North and South Dakota State and will have to win these two remaining road games if they hope to finish the season above .500. Despite being below .500 on the season Head Coach Jim Molinari’s team has had success in the Leathernecks last three road games. Western Illinois covered both listed games as road ‘dogs; 14.5-points at Oral Roberts and 3.5-points at Southern Utah.
The Leathernecks find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Summit League, but have come off back-to-back wins for the first time since November. This was the first time since the 1997-98 season that Western Illinois has won back-to-back road games. The Leathernecks are two games ahead of Southern Illinois for the eighth and final spot in the conference tournament so these next two games are must wins if the Leathernecks hope for post-season play. Keep in mind, though, Western Illinois is 4-10 in the Summit League; which is actually a great record for an under-the-radar team. You can rest assured you won’t have public money ruining a good number if you decide to back the Leathernecks in their last two games. And as bad as the Leathernecks have been SU they have been covering monsters, only losing ATS once in nine listed games. The main reason Western Illinois has been covering so many games is because of their defense. They have kept games close at the end but have trouble making the clutch shots. Tonight the Leathernecks face South Dakota State and then in two days close their season at North Dakota State both are coverable games for the Leathernecks.
DePaul (8-19 SU, 14-7-2 ATS, +520) It is time to break-up the Blue Demons as Interim Coach Tracey Webster’s crew have covered (as DD underdogs) their last two games against Louisville and against Cincinnati last night. Moreover, DePaul hasn’t lost a listed game since Jan. 17 at St. Johns although the Blue Demons pushed as four-point home favorites against Rutgers on Feb. 16. What impresses me about the Blue Demons is the quality teams that they covered against: Syracuse, UConn, West Virginia, Marquette (twice), Louisville, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame. Not your typical Big East conference cellar dwellers.
Last night’s loss dropped the Blue Demons to 8-19 SU on the season and was their ninth loss in a row. This is hardly surprising when you consider the injuries and lack of scoring firepower; two players accounted for 49 of the Blue Demons 69 points against the Bearcats. Meanwhile, DePaul is now 1-14 in the Big East and 1-11 since Jerry Wainwright was fired. Now DePaul will face Rutgers for the second time this month on Saturday. The good news for the Blue Demons is that they are finally healthier than they have been all season and due to their awful record should command larger than usual numbers in their last three games.
Southern Mississippi (18-10, 15-6, +840) Coach Larry Eustachy’s Golden Eagles don’t exactly fit my profile of a perfect under-the-radar team as they have a winning record, but they are sub-.500 in Conference USA at 6-7 and they’ll be playing at the NIT rather than the NCAAs so that is something I can work with when it comes to finding good numbers. The Golden Eagles lost SU at UTEP last night but managed to cover as four-point road dogs, losing 56-59. They’ll travel to Memphis, second place in Conference USA, on Saturday and then finish up the final two games of their season hosting Tulane and then at ECU the following Saturday.
Southern Miss has covered 10 of their last 12 listed games and trend players should note that the ‘under’ has rocked the house in 11 of those games. The only ‘over’ was against UCF on Feb. 20. USM has won six of their last eight games and if the Golden Eagles can play like they did in the first half at UTEP against Memphis this Saturday I wouldn’t be surprised if they cover and win the game SU.
Last week I looked at College of Charleston, UNLV, and Princeton as my Under-the-Radar teams. UNLV won and covered their lone game at Thomas and Mack against Colorado State on Feb. 22, 70-39. The 31-point margin of victory never seriously challenged the 14.5 and brought the Runnin’ Rebels to +610 on the season. Meanwhile, College of Charleston not only covered the five-points at George Mason on Feb. 20, the Cougars got a much-needed road victory as well, winning 85-83. Sports investors backing the Cougars since the beginning of the season have seen their bankrolls swell to +520. Finally, Princeton went 1-1 as the Ivy League sandwiches two games on weekends. The Tigers covered against Yale on Feb. 19 as a 11.5-point favorite but lost SU and ATS the next night against Brown. Despite the loss Princeton is still a respectable +620 this season.
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