NCAA Hoops Betting: Under the Radar
by Christopher G. Shepard - 1/14/2010
While the debate rages on about which team should be the No. 1 team in men’s college basketball the No. 1 team for sports bettors is obvious: St. Mary’s. The Gaels lead all schools as a top cash earner with +980 return for bettors on the season but they are not the only mid-major team to fly under the radar with consistent cashes. This week I have three more teams who you should put on your ‘strong buy’ recommendation list.
Cornell (14-3 SU, 9-3 ATS +570) The two-time defending Ivy League champions will look for the hat-trick when they open up conference play with home-away series against Columbia that starts in Ithaca on Saturday and resumes in Manhattan on Jan. 23. Cornell will put its 15-game home conference streak on the line on Saturday.
Head Coach Steve Donohue’s starting five have been money for investors as Big Red is 3-0 ATS and 2-1 SU in their last three listed games. Cornell’s last cover came with heartbreaking defeat as Big Red pushed Kansas to the limit as 21-point underdogs and ended up losing the contest by only five points at Allen Fieldhouse. Cornell is 25-3 against Ivy League opponents at home while Columbia has lost their last seven games to Cornell and have never beaten this current class of players.
The one thing you have to give Donohue credit for is scheduling very tough non-conference foes for the last two years. This has served the purpose well as Big Red leads the NCAA with 10 away wins and also looks to keep that streak alive against the dangerous Lions. Away victories at Alabama, Massachusetts, Drexel, LaSalle and South Dakota and a championship in the MSG Holiday Classic that featured wins over Davidson and host St. John's have put Big Red in good position to dominate the Ivy this year.
The ancillary benefit of a tough non-conference schedule is that it makes the Ivy League teams weaker by comparison. Not a bad strategy if Big Red wants to continue at the top of the league. Their main competition as such looks as it is Harvard. The Crimson already have a leg up on Cornell as they beat Dartmouth last week and so Cornell begins conference play a half-game behind Harvard – this is obviously not insurmountable. Cornell looks well poised to cover about 75 percent of their conference battles.
Louisiana Tech (16-2 SU, 10-3 ATS, +670 Units) If you haven’t noticed yet Head Coach Kerry Rupp’s Bulldogs have ripped off six straight SU and ATS wins while the ‘over’ has cashed in six of their last eight games with a listed total. It’s hard to say that one of the hottest teams in the country is flying under-the-radar but there are still sports investors out there who are following the public teams and ignoring cash cow teams in the lesser conferences. Let’s face it, when you think college hoops the Western Athletic Conference hardly jumps to mind.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 2-0 road trip and are winning behind senior Kyle Gibson, who has notched a double-double in every game this season and is the NCAA’s 13th highest scorer, averaging 21.1 points per game. Helping him is the undeniable talent of Magnum Rolle who has notched seven double-doubles this season, the most recent coming at Boise State. The Boise State win marked the Bulldogs 22nd win in 27 games going back to last season. It’ll be Bulldog vs. Bulldog tonight as Louisiana Tech hosts Fresno State for a winnable conference battle. Keep an eye on Tech come tournament time the Bulldogs could make some big noise. Meanwhile, of their 12 remaining games it is quite possible that the Bulldogs will cover 10.
Weber State (10-7 SU, 9-4 ATS, +460 Units) In his brief tenure Head Coach Randy Rahe’s team has won two Big Sky Conference titles (‘06-‘07, ‘08-’09) and is 40-13 in Big Sky contests. The Wildcats have been Big Sky covering monsters, going 4-1 SU and ATS since conference play began in December. Since the beginning of this year Rahe’s team has posted a 2-1 mark ATS, covering both games as favorites and losing at Colorado as a six-point underdog. The Wildcats are currently in a tie for first in the Big Sky conference with Northern Colorado.
This weekend the Wildcats face a serious test when they travel to Idaho State. Despite sweeping the season series last year, Rahe’s team will have their hands full as they go against the Bengals, who have arguably the hardest non-conference schedule in the Big Sky. So don’t let the Bengals 4-13 record fool you. They lead the Big Sky in rebound defense, but will need to stop sophomore guard Damian Lillard, who averages 18.9 ppg and senior forward Franklin Session who leads the team with 6.8 rebounds per game. Weber State has been getting it done on defense. In all four conference wins this season the Wildcats have kept their opponents under 65 points; the ‘Cats defeated Sacramento State 80-65, Montana State 75-62, Montana 64-56 and Northern Arizona 87-62.
While Weber State has been a cash earner since the beginning of conference play I’d be very careful backing the Wildcats at ISU. They’ll have their hands full against once of the best defenses in the Big Sky. After the ISU tilt Weber State hosts their next three games at home. It will feature tough back-to-back home games against a tough Portland State team on Jan. 22 and then on the next night Eastern Washington and then Sacramento State on the 29th. Home cooking is where it is at for Weber State. The Wildcats have really excelled at the Dee Events Center under Rahe as they have posted and remarkable SU 40-8 (.833) and an even more impressive 26-4 SU record (.867) at home against Big Sky opponents.
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