College Basketball Betting Advice: Underrated NCAA Hoops Teams
The college basketball season is underway, but we are still quite a while away from the time when the casual betting public will pay real attention to the sport. It's a good time, then, for us to take stock of teams and conferences to see where they are at. What we want to focus on today are five teams that aren't going to be picked by anyone to contend in their conferences but which have the potential to be much better than expected. Here are five underrated, under-the-radar college basketball teams:
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Central Florida: The Knights had an excellent 24-win season last year under coach Johnny Dawkins - his first with the program. Leading scorer B.J. Taylor could play for my team any day, and Tacko Fall is a 7-foot-5 freak of a man at center who has solid athleticism for his size. There are some good teams in the AAC this year, but UCF is a lot closer to the top of the league than the bottom. One sad story here is that Dawkins' son Aubrey transferred from Michigan to play for his dad but won't get the chance. He redshirted last year and was injured in the preseason and will lose all of his last year of eligibility.
Oklahoma: The Sooners were an awful team last year - just 11-20. Lon Kruger is a very legitimate coach, though, so you know a team of his isn't going to stay down for long. They had a massive offseason addition in Trae Young, a Norman native who is the first five-star prospect from Oklahoma to join the team since Blake Griffin. He's everything the team hoped for, having recorded double-doubles in both if his games so far. He doesn't have to do it all alone, though. Seven of the top eight scorers from last year's team are back this year. They weren't good together last year, but they are more experienced and have Young to rally around now. Early returns for the new look Sooners have been very positive - they have scored 108 points in each of their first two games.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes missed the tournament last year, and leading scorer Peter Jok is gone, so it would be easy to casually dismiss this team. That would be a mistake. Forward Tyler Cook and point guard Jordan Bohannon both had solid years last year as freshmen, and we should see both take big steps forward this year. If they do then the team could easily forget all about Jok and his 19.9 points per game. The Big Ten is strong up top, but it falls off in a hurry, so the team doesn't have to be world class to win a fair share of games and put together a strong season.
St. John's: Chris Mullin made the heroic return to coach the Red Storm two years ago, and so far it has not gone well for the former Golden State Warriors star - he is 22-43 through two seasons. This year could be very different, though. Mullins backcourt of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett averaged 33 points last year and should take a step forward this year. Justin Simon is a former five-star recruit that had a rough time at Arizona and has joined St. John's for a fresh start. And Marvin Clark II played two years at Michigan State before transferring. They both bring an infusion of talent to the squad. The Big East is a very strong conference this year, but Mullin has the team to play into the top half of the league - and hopefully into the postseason. If nothing else, though, this is the year we get to see former Big East rivals Mullin and Patrick Ewing back in the league and against each other as coaches. That alone makes this team worth watching.
Stanford: The Cardinal are likely to head into conference play with a rough record. That's what happens when you schedule North Carolina, Florida and Kansas in nonconference play. That could be a good thing, though. Not only will they be seasoned from those likely losses, but expectations could be dimmed, which could create some opportunities. It would be the reverse of last year where they started out at 6-1 and then cratered in conference play. Coach Jerod Haase was really good at UAB, and I liked his hire here a lot. Now he's in his second year, and this squad should look more like he wants it to. He has some nice players to work with - Reid Travis was excellent last year and should be even better this year to lead the way. An early loss to Eastern Washington was far from ideal for this squad, I'll admit, but I still think they have a chance to do some damage in a league that is a long way from being the deepest league in the country.
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