College Basketball Totals Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 1/7/2010
We are well into college basketball conference play now, so teams have played more than enough games for us to get a sense of what they really are and how we should be dealing with them. Here's a look at 10 teams that have proven themselves trustworthy on totals so far this year - the ones that most consistently stay ‘under’ or go ‘over’. (‘over/under’ record follows name)
St. Mary's (9-3) - The Gaels are betting darlings - not only are they killing it on the ‘over’ this year, but they also lead the entire country ATS at 11-1. They have the perfect combination to explain why they go ‘over’ so consistently - they have a Top 20 offense, but their defense is mired well below 100 in the rankings. When you can score a lot and can't stop the other team from doing the same then you can't help but go ‘over’. It also helps that Patty Mills went pro, so the public doesn't have high hopes for a team which lost its best player.
Gonzaga (9-2) - The Bulldogs have been disappointing in some ways this year, but against the total has not been one of them. They have gone ‘over’ in six of their last seven games. They do it despite having just the 48th best offense, so the biggest contributing factor hasn't been a positive one for the team - they rank 174th in points allowed per game.
Notre Dame (7-2) - Out of the gate it would have been easy for Notre Dame backers to worry - they were ‘under’ in each of their first two games. They haven't gone ‘under’ again since. Luke Harangody is having one heck of a year, and his 25 points per game fuels a Top 15 offense. Pair that with a truly awful defense that is stuck below 200th in the nation in several statistical categories and oddsmakers will be hard pressed to set a total high enough for this team to consistently go ‘under’.
St. John's (1-7) - Notre Dame's Big East conference-mates are virtually the opposite of the Irish - they have a respectable defense and an anemic offense. They are an interesting case for oddsmakers - the defense ranks 84th in the country, so it's not totally dominant and it can have bad days without a problem. That makes it hard for oddsmakers to set a number that is low because they can't trust the defense. That means that the number will tend to be high, and the Red Storm stands a good chance of going ‘under’.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1-7) - This just isn't a very good team - both their offense and defense are at 175th or worse in the country. They went ‘over’ in their last game against Butler because the Bulldogs were able to score at will, but they have stayed ‘under’ every game besides that.
Virginia Tech (5-0) - The Hokies are perfect on the total, but it's hard to trust what we have seen so far because this team has played a laughably weak schedule. It's telling how weak it has been that only eight of their 13 games have had a point spread. Until the Hokies face some better competition - and they certainly will in conference play - it makes sense to be cautious here.
SE Missouri State (6-1) - The Redhawks may be the most obscure team on this list, but they have a good recipe for success on the ‘over’ - a terrible defense, and offense that is so weak that the oddsmakers can't comfortably set the total too low.
Illinois (10-1) - In terms of return on investment the Illini are the best in the country on the total this year. They have an interesting situation defensively - they rank significantly better on defensive field goal percentage and three point percentage than they do on points scored. The team has helped totals bettors by going to overtime in two of their last three games.
St. Joseph's (7-0) - It's been a few years since St. Joseph's was relevant nationally, but they sure are doing it on the total this year. The reason they have gone ‘over’ so much is the same reason that they are just 4-8 on the season - they are just brutal defensively. They rank 325th in the country in points allowed, and there are only 347 teams.
Washington State (8-3) - The Cougars have a Top 40 offense, and only a top 200 defense, so it makes sense that they continue to go ‘over’. Their three ‘unders’ have all come at home, so this team has been particularly good on the road or on a neutral court. The Cougars have generally been a pleasant surprise this year - they lead the Pac-10 in wins.
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