College Basketball Betting: Value Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 12/21/2011
We are almost into conference play in college basketball. A couple of smaller conferences have already started. This is the time that more bettors start to pay attention to college basketball as the season is well underway and college football is winding down.
Outside of the top teams with the high rankings and the fancy records this year here are four teams that are definitely worth paying attention to. Two of the teams had high expectations but got off to slower-than-expected starts, while the other two are off the radar and outside of the national spotlight.
What they have in common is that they stand a good chance of being very tough in conference play and very useful for college basketball handicappers as well.
The Tigers came into the season highly ranked and surrounded by hype. The lethargy that led to a late-season collapse last year was still hanging around, though, and the start of the year has been rough.
They lost to Michigan at the Maui Invitational, lost to Georgetown two games later, and then fell to Murray State and Louisville later on. While that slow start has cooled expectations significantly, this is still a wildly-talented, incredibly athletic team. They just need to get back on track, and the start of C-USA play — a conference they have thoroughly dominated — will help them do so.
This is going to be a much better, more dangerous team in March than they have been so far.
This team gained some attention when they beat Florida State — the 20th-ranked team in the country at the time. What’s important here is to recognize that that was no fluke.
Their only loss this year in 10 games was a road trip to UConn. Harvard has only played in the NCAA Tournament once — in 1946. That streak should come to an end this year.
After a rough time at Michigan, coach Tommy Amaker has done an incredible job here, and he has five returning starters on his squad. Last year they tied for the Ivy League conference title, but lost the one-game playoff with Princeton. They have learned from that, and they are going to be far and away the class of the Ivy League.
The Crimson should see their NCAA drought end, and they will be very tough to play when they get there. Their last two games of this calendar year will be very informative. The play across town at Boston College on Dec. 29, and then host Saint Joseph’s two days later. If they come through those games well then they really are impressive.
Murray State Racers
The Ohio Valley Conference doesn’t get a lot of press at the best of times, and some people who do pay attention could have written off Murray State this year after head coach Billy Kennedy took over at Texas A&M. They also lost three starters, including their whole backcourt.
It turns out that there was no reason to be concerned. In fact, the team has exceeded all expectations. They are unbeaten through 12 games, including nice wins against Memphis, Dayton, and UAB. The Memphis win was the most impressive one, and they earned that win on the road.
They have played so well that they are unquestionably the class of their conference, and they have a small but real look at going unbeaten through the regular season. If you haven’t taken note of this team yet, you really need to.
Last year, in only the second year under Sean Miller, the Wildcats went to the Elite Eight. They lost the incredibly-talented Derrick Williams to the NBA, though, so it was easy to question them this year.
After a 7-4 start, including two losses in a row at home to Mississippi State and San Diego State, it was even easier to have doubts about the squad.
I really think it would be a mistake to look beyond this team, though.
The Pac-12 is far from the strongest conference in the country, so there are real opportunities for a team that gets hot at the right time. Arizona has played a young roster so inevitably that leads to issues early on, but the team is showing improvement as they go along. I think they will only get better as they get more experience and learn how to maximize their resources.
They likely aren’t up for a deep run again without Williams, but they are still going to be very dangerous, and definitely worth close attention.
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