College Basketball Betting Advice: Under-the-Radar Teams to Bet On
This is the time of year when a lot of bettors start paying attention to college basketball for the first time this season. All football action is finished up, baseball hasn't started yet, and the NBA and NHL are in their dog days before the stretch drives begin, so this is a bit of a sweet spot for college hoops. The postseason is only a month away, and that's when things get exciting.
Now people can get familiar with the season - and hopefully fatten their wallets a bit - before things go crazy. People probably know who the elite teams are - as much as it is possible to know that in this strange season, anyway. And they know which teams are at the top of each of the major conference. What we want to look at here, though, are the teams that can carry a lot of profits - the under-the-radar teams that can deliver some nice profits because they are probably better than people think they are.
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Here are three teams lurking in the shadows of major conference that stand out right now:
N.C. State: Kevin Keatts was only at UNC Wilmington, his first college head coaching job, for three years. But he had great success, winning the CAA twice. That was enough to get him the gig replacing Mark Gottfried here. Gottfried had finished below .500 his last two years, so Keatts had a big job ahead of him. He's 16-18, which already matches the best win total in those two years. It's the wins he has that are impressive, though. They beat both Duke and Arizona when they were ranked No. 2 in the country, and they beat 10th-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill. And they beat 19-4 Clemson after the Tigers had crushed the Wolfpack in the first meeting. The team has been blown out in some ACC games, and has had really ugly losses to Northern Iowa and UNC Greensboro, so things are far from perfect and they aren't ranked. But they are dramatically improved, obviously aren't intimidated by big stages, and have some sneaky talent. That sounds like a recipe for a team that could do some surprising damage in March.
Nebraska: The Big Ten is very top-heavy right now - Purdue and Michigan State are elite squads, Ohio State feels like they are overachieving, but are 12-1 in conference, and Michigan is in the Top 20. It's easy for teams to hide behind a group like that, and Nebraska is. Their 8-4 start is their best in almost 20 years in the conference. They are a bit short on top-quality wins right now, but they are playing tough and are finding their way. Considering that during many years it is tough to remember if Nebraska even plays basketball, and that makes this impressive. They are showing, too, just how important managing transfers can be for programs who aren't going to win many recruiting battles. Leading scorer James Palmer Jr. joined from Miami, and second-leading scorer Isaac Copeland came from Georgetown. The two have scored more than 40 percent of Nebraska's points, so it's probably no coincidence that this improved play from the team coincides with their first year with the team.
Alabama: This team has nine losses already, so they are far from perfect, and they still have a lot of work to do to secure their postseason fate. When the team gets things all moving in the right direction, though, they are a sight to see. Avery Johnson is a good fit here as coach - I like him a whole lot more than I ever liked him with the Nets. And he has a heck of a player in freshman Collin Sexton, who is their leading scorer by almost eight points per game. This team has five wins over ranked teams, including a 22-point massacre of then No. 5 Texas A&M. And at the end of January they became just the second team all year to hold super-freak Trae Young to less than 20 points when they beat Oklahoma. The team is creative defensively and capable of changing looks on the fly to keep opponents off guard. When it goes well for them they have success. If they can get more comfortable doing that more consistently down the stretch they could be a dangerous foe. Sexton is likely a lottery pick this year after just one year in college, so the team has the best look at success that they might have in a while. If he can stay strong and the team can play defense around them then this will be a fun team to watch - and a good squad to pick as an upset if they make the tournament.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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