We really don't know much yet when it comes to college basketball. Conference play is about to start, and until it does the schedules teams play make it so tough to draw real conclusions about which teams are any good and which aren't. The sample size is getting big enough, though, that it is worth at least taking a look at the best and worst teams to bet on so far. The best teams won't all stay profitable, and the worst won't all struggle, but there are trends and lessons here for sure. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights of the betting season so far in college basketball:
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USC (7-1 ATS): Andy Enfield has made steady progress since leveraging a big tournament run for Florida Gulf Coast into the USC job. This 9-0 start is a new high for him, though. You don't want to get too excited - they have been favored in all but one game, and their best win is against Texas A&M. They will find a rougher road during Pac-12 conference play, and we don't know how that will go as of yet. So far, though, it's been a worthy team to bet on.
UCLA (8-2 ATS): The Bruins are definitely the more impressive of the L.A. teams - though the slightly less profitable one. The statement win is over Kentucky at Rupp Arena, but they also have decent wins over Texas A&M and Michigan. We'll have to see how far a team built around freshmen like this one is can go before running out of gas, but if nothing else they will be very fun to watch until they do.
Florida State (7-2 ATS): The Seminoles are 10-1 straight up, which is good enough to have them ranked. They have been favored in every game they have played. On one hand that means they haven't played a hugely daunting schedule, but it also means that they are winning well -- well enough to keep covering spreads. They have decent wins over Florida, Minnesota and Illinois, though they didn't cover in the Minnesota win. Their loss was to Temple, who we are about to discuss.
Creighton (7-2 ATS): The Bluejays sit atop the Big East standings along with defending National Champions Villanova at 10-0. That's good enough to have them ranked 10th in the country, so this is a legitimate team. They have also been favored in every game except for one - they were a pick'em early on against Wisconsin but they beat the Badgers handily.
Temple (7-2 ATS): At 7-3 the Owls have the least-impressive record on this list, but they have certainly taken care of bettors. They are just 1-2 ATS in their last three, though, so it could be that their hot hand is cooling down somewhat. Most impressively, though, they are 5-0 ATS as underdogs, so they perform best when their backs are against the wall.
Oregon State (1-7 ATS): This team is an ugly 3-7, so they just aren't very good. Even worse, they haven't really played anyone - their best opponent is Mississippi State, a mid-pack SEC squad. They lost that game by 17. Things are going to be ugly for the Beavers in conference play - the Pac-12 isn't the deepest conference right now, but the top half of the conference (at least) will shred them.
North Dakota State (0-5 ATS): North Dakota State is ridiculously good at football, but that excellence doesn't extend to the hardcourt. They are 6-4, but that success has mostly come from incredibly weak scheduling. Their big chance to make a statement was against Xavier. They lost by 30.
UC Santa Barbara (0-5 ATS): The Gauchos find their way into the Tournament from time to time, but it's not happening this year. They have played only seven games - fewer than most teams, and they have just one win. Even worse, that one win was against Division II Sonoma State. They were thrashed by USC and SMU but have actually been favored in their other three games.
Cal (3-7 ATS): The Bears have some real talent in guys like Ivan Rabb and Charlie Moore, and they are a solid 8-2. However, they just can't cover spreads. They have been favored in every game they have played, and they really haven't played anyone - the losses are to Seton Hall and San Diego State - so conference play could be a rough ride for bettors.
St. Joseph's (2-6 ATS): The Hawks have failed to cover their last four spreads, so they aren't trending in the right direction. To their credit, though, theirs has been a much harder schedule than the rest of this list so far. It would be even more impressive if they hadn't lost pretty soundly to each of the four decent teams they have played.
Georgetown (2-6 ATS): Patience is thin in the land of the Hoyas. They have played a tough schedule, but expectations were high and they have really failed to meet them. They are 6-4, but that is very deceptive - aside from Oregon the wins mean nothing, and the losses have been decisive. I don't know how long they can keep going without a coaching change. Of course, I have been asking that for a couple of years now.
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