College Basketball Odds: High-Value Teams for Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 11/9/2010
As we head into the new college basketball season, everyone is looking for the teams that they will be able to trust to deliver them consistent profits against the college basketball lines over the course of the season. One way that teams can pad your bankroll is by being better than people expect them to be. Here are four teams that seem to me to be underrated at the brink of the start of the season – teams that could be betting sensations:
Virginia Tech - The Hokies just haven’t been quite good enough recently. They have won 65 games the last three years, including 25 last year, but they haven’t yet managed to earn a NCAA Tournament bid. They seem to be locked on the bubble, and that’s where a lot of people seem to have them pegged - decent, but not quite good.
They are better than they get credit for this year, though. For starters, this squad hasn’t lost a single starter from that 25-win team last year. Chief among them is Malcolm Delaney, the leading scorer in the ACC last year. He really grew into his game as the season progressed, and has the potential to be even better this year. The guy is as good as anyone at getting to the free throw line, so his productivity is relatively stable. Dorenzo Hudson improved dramatically last year, and the guard has the chance to be among the best in the conference this year.
The Hokies are 21st and 23rd in the two major polls. That’s far too low for a team which, in my mind, is solidly the second best team in the ACC.
Purdue - As soon as Robbie Hummel was injured and lost for the season the Boilermakers plummeted down the rankings - the AP has them at 14th right now. Losing Hummel was a big blow, but this team is better than they are getting credit for.
For one thing, the team unfortunately has experience playing without Hummel. It wasn’t perfect last year without him, but they weren’t a disaster. Even before he was hurt and out of action he was limited by his back.
Beyond Hummel this team still has a whole pile of talent. E’Twaun Moore led the team in scoring last year, and as a senior he has a chance to be special. With Hummel gone he knows he can be the leader of this team from the start. JaJuan Johnson has gained size over the summer, and he spent a lot of time working with the National Team so his confidence will be high. Lewis Jackson was limited by a foot injury that cost him time and speed last year. He’s healthier this year, and him at full strength will boost this team significantly. Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson aren’t related, but both are freshmen who have a chance to be special.
Ohio State and Michigan State are getting all the love in the Big Ten, but ruling Purdue out of contention is a serious mistake.
NC State - The death watch is on for Sidney Lowe - a 5-11 record in conference play is not a good way to improve your job security. Despite that, Wolfpack fans are optimistic. I think that they are right to be.
Two returning players have me excited. Tracy Smith emerged as a star last year, and given how much better he has been with every passing season the senior power forward should be very special this year. Sophomore center Richard Howell started slow last year thanks to knee surgery, but he improved quickly and showed glimpses of serious potential late in the season.
It’s the youngsters on this team that are really thrilling, though. C.J. Leslie was one of the top recruits in the country, and he has the game and the swagger to make an immediate impact. He’s an athletic superfreak. Lorenzo Brown also has no shortage of confidence, and the shooting guard brings extra maturity because of an unplanned year at prep school because he didn’t qualify last year. Ryan Harrow is a five-star point guard prospect that is the first true point guard Lowe has had with this team. He’ll be able to hit the ground running. Add these three all-star recruits to a solid base of returning talent and you have an unranked team that really shouldn’t be.
Utah - Coach Jim Boylen has taken a massive risk in the last year before he takes his team to the Pac-10. I think it can pay off. Boylen took a stand with his team after last year. He questioned their work ethic and commitment and said that players had two choices - they could be ‘all in’ for the team and their culture, or they could leave. Six players did leave with eligibility remaining, including the two leading scorers last year. That would be a concern if this team was good last year, but they really weren’t - they were just 14-17.
Boylen has replaced the departed talent with nine new players, including four highly regarded junior college transfers. Josh Watkins and David Foster are particularly exciting. These nine new players join six returning players, and all have to be excited by Boylen’s passion, and the vision he is sharing and is obviously committed to this year. That’s just the type of thing that a team can rally around.
Unlike the other three teams in this listing, Utah is in no danger of being ranked this year. I do think, though, that they can be much better than people think - a factor in the Mountain West again.
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