Best Mid-Major Betting Teams in College Basketball: Time to Buy or Sell?
On Friday I broke down the five most profitable major conference teams in college basketball betting this year. Today I am going to take a look at the five best mid-major bets in the sport this season and figure out if we she tail or fade these teams as we head into March.
Interestingly, the five teams that I analyzed Friday went 3-2 against the spread in their games over the weekend. And that includes a brutal backdoor loss for Oklahoma, which is the only thing standing in the way of a 4-1 mark for those squads.
Once again, we are going to put it in the simple terms of “buy” or “sell”. To “buy” a team means that I feel like there is still value left betting on them as we head down the stretch. To “sell” means that I think these teams have hit their ATS peak and they won’t be profitable for backers from now through the end of the season.
Here are the five teams from mid-major conferences that have been the best bets in college basketball, with my recommendations for each:
VCU (19-8) – SELL
The Rams have been on fire and are one of the hottest bets in the country. They have covered the spread in eight straight games and are on a 10-1 against the spread rush. VCU has dominated a down Atlantic 10 this year, going 12-2 and quietly positioning itself for a potential at-large berth. VCU is using its patented pressure defense to smother opponents. They are No. 5 in the nation in field goal defense and No. 2 in the in 3-point defense. Defense travels and does well in March. But VCU is a known entity and the books will start jacking up the spreads they are going to have to cover. I don’t see their ATS streak continuing much longer.
Hofstra (19-9) – SELL
For my money, Hofstra is the best team in the Colonial Athletic Association. However, they have the look of a team that is starting to wear down a bit and look ahead to the conference tournament. Hofstra has lost two of its last three, taking L’s from terrible UNC-Wilmington and James Madison squads while barely snatching an overtime win from a weak Towson squad. The Pride went 0-3 ATS in those games. Hofstra is No. 325 in the country in bench minutes. Their starters have logged a ton of time this year and I don’t know how much they have left in the tank to beat spreads this March.
Drake (20-7) – SELL
The Bulldogs have been the most profitable team in college basketball this year, covering the number in 74 percent of their games. Loyola Chicago, by virtue of its dream run to last year’s Final Four, entered the year as the overwhelming favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference. But Drake is the only team in the league with 20 or more wins and the Bulldogs, along with Missouri State and Loyola-Chicago, are tied for first place in the conference standings. The Bulldogs have done their damage despite a midseason injury to point guard Nick Norton. I do think they have hit their ATS peak, though, and it might be time to start betting against this group.
Belmont (17-9 ATS) – BUY
Murray State has gotten all of the headlines this year due to the exploits of Ja Morant. But Belmont is actually in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference right now. Both teams are 14-2, but Belmont owns the tiebreaker due to their 13-point head-to-head win over the Racers. This is the only team on this list that I am still buying because they have gotten stronger at the window as the season has worn on. Belmont is on an 11-2 ATS run and they have covered three straight. Belmont hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament in four years and they have been a terrible bet in the last three postseasons (2-5 ATS) though.
Fresno State (17-8 ATS) – SELL
The Bulldogs have superseded expectations in their first season since Rodney Terry’s surprise decision to leave for UTEP. Justin Hutson’s squad has done well at the window while lurking in the middle of the Mountain West pack. The senior backcourt of Braxton Huggins and Deshon Taylor leads a team that often goes with a four-guard look. Fresno State is coming off a spread-covering effort against first place team Nevada. The Bulldogs have already started to slow down, though. After an 8-2 ATS start they have gone a respectable, but hardly eye-popping, 9-6 ATS over their last 15 games. With their final two home games coming against two of the worst teams in the country (Wyoming and San Jose State) I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fresno get caught laying too many points.
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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