College Basketball Handicapping: ATS Studs and Duds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/3/2014
As we get ready to transition from nonconference play to heated conference action in college basketball, it’s a good time to look at which squads have rewarded bettors so far, which have burned bettors’ money up, and what to expect going forward:
Arizona (10-3 ATS): The top team in the country hasn’t lost yet, it is playing outstanding defense, and it can score reasonably effectively. It’s no surprise that the Wildcats are doing well for bettors. What has to scare Pac-12 opponents of this team is that they are so young and are only getting better. That’s bad news for opponents, but great news for bettors.
UNLV (10-3-1): With Anthony Bennett gone, the public attention has shifted away from this team for now. Quietly, though, this team is playing very effectively — they have covered their last nine spreads. This is an under-the-radar team that is going to be dangerous in conference play.
Hawaii (7-1-1): It’s been a long time since anyone but a truly hardcore fan has known anything about Hawaii basketball. Playing in the virtually anonymous Big West doesn’t help their profile. They have covered their last five spreads, though, and while they are in no danger of slaying giants this year, they could keep winning and covering if they play like they have, especially on offense.
Florida State (8-2): This team is very big, and that size and length has allowed them to torment some pretty good opponents. They have wins over UMass and VCU, and they covered in near losses to Michigan and Florida. Their biggest issue this year, though, is that the ACC is deep, so they are going to be tested often.
Massachusetts (9-3): The Minutemen are one of the biggest surprises of this season, with that loss to Florida State their lone setback. The new-look A-10 is a tough conference, though, so it’s tough to have complete faith in the ability of this team to stay on track and maintain this level of betting success. I am not a believer.
Wichita State (8-2-1): The Shockers have twice been tournament Cinderellas, but this year they are showing that they are no March surprise. This is a very legitimate team. They sit at 14-0, and they have a real shot at running the table. The more they win the more attention they will get, but right now they have the formula for covering a lot of spreads down pat.
Eastern Illinois (1-10): The Panthers just aren’t very good. They have failed to cover their last nine spreads, and have only been favored twice over that stretch. They haven’t exactly played a prime-time schedule, either. Their best opponent over this slump has been a Purdue team that will struggle miserably in Big Ten play, and the Boilermakers won by 28 as 15-point favorites. The only moderately good news, though, is that the Ohio Valley Conference is weak this year, so things aren’t going to be as tough on this team as they could be. Still, they aren’t about to turn into spread-covering machines.
Boston College (2-10): There are a lot of very good teams in the ACC. This most certainly is not one of them. They play defense so incomprehensibly poorly that it is hard to believe that the coaches actually ever discuss it at practices. Oddsmakers have consistently been giving this team far too much credit, and they haven’t come even close to covering spreads in their last six games. Until that changes, this is going to be an attractive team to bet against.
Bradley (1-9-1): There are 351 teams playing Division I basketball this year. Three hundred thirty-nine of them shoot three pointers more effectively than the Braves, and 317 score more points per game. Given the woeful offense and an only average defense, it’s not surprising that this team is struggling. They haven’t covered a spread since Nov. 22 — a streak of seven games. That’s no fluke.
La Salle (1-8): The Explorers have been good in recent years, but this year they seem destined to dwell in the cellar of the A-10. Their offense is really underwhelming, and their defense isn’t much better. Don’t let their 6-6 overall record fool you — this team has fed on some really weak teams and isn’t nearly as good as the .500 mark suggests.
Loyola-Chicago (2-9): This is a team that shoots pretty well inside the arc, but it doesn’t translate to a whole lot of points — in part because they are lousy from 3-point range. They are also really lousy at guarding opposing shooters. They just aren’t very good, and they are going to be completely outclassed by Wichita State and the rest of the top of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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