NCAA Basketball Betting: Worst Teams Against the Spread
by Robert Ferringo - 2/6/2015
Every square college basketball bettor I know, at one point or another, has uttered some version of the same nonsense statement about betting college basketball:
"You gotta play underdogs, bro."
"Underdogs. All the pros play underdogs."
"Yeah, I play sharp. I bet a lot of underdogs. That's how you make money betting."
This, of course, is ridiculous. And if you ever hear someone uttering this nonsense just nod your head while slowly backing away. If playing underdogs were the way to go then making money in the college basketball betting market would be easy. But there is no silver bullet when it comes to beating the books; you have to diversify.
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And the fact is that some teams in college basketball just suck.
They suck badly.
Below is a list of the 10 worst teams against the spread so far in this college hoops season. It's always nice to find an under-the-radar team that is overlooked and undervalued. But spotting a dumpster fire team and just pounding away at them can be just as fun and rewarding.
Here is a look at the worst college basketball teams against the spread so far this season:
Texas State (4-10 ATS)
The Bobcats snapped a five-game SU and ATS losing streak with a 20-point blowout road win against South Alabama on Wednesday. Good for them! They are still terrible. Texas State is the quintessential grinder team. They are in the Top 25 in scoring defense and 3-point defense and play at one of the slowest tempos in the country. But they are also disgusting offensively. And three of their wins have come against D-II teams. This is a bad team, and I don't see a significant improvement over the last month considering most of their spreads will be between plus-6.0 and minus-6.0.
Syracuse (6-13 ATS)
The Orange have been a mess all season long. And the recent self-imposition of sanctions on the team, including a postseason abstention, means that Syracuse has nothing to play for this year. Which is good, because they aren't going to the NCAA Tournament anyway. This team struggled to beat ACC bottom-feeders Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. Because they are awful. But the fact that they won those games - they are currently 15-7 straight up - has helped keep their value high. But this team is a dead man walking and represents the worst roster Jim Boeheim's dealt with in over 10 years.
Niagara (6-13 ATS)
It wasn't long ago that the Purple Eagles were the class of the Metro Atlantic. They made the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2007, and they won the regular-season title in the MAAC just two seasons ago. But when Joe Mihalich jumped ship to Hofstra it was the death knell for this program, and now they are nothing more than a bottom-feeder. Niagara has shown some signs lately, with three of their last five losses coming by four points or less. But with five of their next seven games on the road I think things will get worse before they get better for this group.
Belmont (6-14 ATS)
The Bruins are the only team on this list that is in contention for their conference title. Belmont is 15-7 and has a two-game lead in the Ohio Valley's East Division. They have won five straight games against dumpster-fire competition (three of the teams are rated No. 310 or worse) and things will get tougher over the next two weeks with four games against Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State.
Weber State (5-13 ATS)
The Wildcats have finished in first or second place in the Big Sky in five of the last six seasons. They have absolutely dominated a league that is the equivalent of college hoops hobos. So a slide into the middle tier of the Big Sky has come with a massive dump at the window. These guys are young, they don't use their bench, and they don't play any defense. Other than that they are fine. Weber State has lost four of its last five games after a brief three-game winning streak. And with three of the next five games on the road, their slide will continue.
East Tennessee State (4-12 ATS)
Bizarrely, ETSU has a winning record on the year and is in fourth place in the Southern Conference. Part of the issue with his team is that this is their first year in the SoCon and no one was really sure where they were going to fit in. They've been a mediocre team in the Atlantic Sun, finishing between fourth and eighth the last three years in their former league. And there was really no way of gauging the relative conference strength between to bottom-feeder leagues. Well, the verdict is in. The books were off. ETSU has been a money-burner at the window during an equally mediocre season.
Charleston (6-15 ATS)
It shouldn't be a shocker that Charleston is one of the worst bets in the country. Two years ago they made a big step up to the CAA from the Southern. Then this offseason they dumped their head coach, Doug Wojcik, due to allegations of abuse toward players and coaches and potential recruiting violations. Wojcik left the cupboard bare. And the result is a team that has lost 13 of 15 after a big upset of William & Mary on Thursday. Charleston can lean on the fact that they are young - just two of their top nine players are upperclassmen - but the truth is they are just awful.
Pittsburgh (5-15 ATS)
The Panthers struggled to beat Bryant on Monday. Bryant. Which shouldn't be that surprising considering this team already had losses to Hawaii and Virginia Tech on their resume. Pitt's second foray through the ACC has been a sloppy one. And with a pair of games against Syracuse sandwiched around tilts with Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia, I don't expect a happy Valentine's Day for the Panthers. This is one of Jamie Dixon's youngest Pitt teams in the last decade, with four sophomore starters, and they will be a team I peg for a huge bounce back next year. But right now they aren't very good and can't be trusted at home or on the road.
Dartmouth (2-8 ATS)
Everyone just assumes that Ivy League teams suck. And when they play nonconference games they are spotted an extra three of four points. So to come up short of the country's weakest expectations is really saying something. By some Act of God this team actually beat preseason favorite Harvard. They have eight wins on the year, and they are scrappy. They have a four-game homestand between Feb. 13 and Feb. 21 and close with six of eight on their own turf. I actually think this team could be a decent bet down the stretch. But 2-8 is 2-8, and I'll believe it when I see it.
San Jose State (3-15 ATS)
The Spartans are used to being one of the worst college basketball programs in the country, so this year's 2-20 SU start really shouldn't faze them. Since 2002 the Spartans have won less than 10 games a stunning nine times! That includes an absurd run of 28-117 from 2003-2007. So when I say that this year's team has a chance to be one of the worst in school history, that's really saying something!
San Jose State has not won a game against a Division I school this year, with their two victories coming over D-II fodder. Of their 20 losses, 17 of them have come by double-digits, and their average margin of defeat in Mountain West play is a stunning 23.5 points per game!
The only spread that SJSU has covered since Thanksgiving came against Wyoming on Jan. 3. San Jose lost by just five points as an 18.5-point home underdog. Since then they have been a 20-point dog three times - and lost all three games by a total of 110 points. The Spartans won't be catching less than 10 points the rest of the year. But with nine games left on the slate, I will be surprised if they can't find a way to cover at least three spreads.
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