College Basketbal Betting: Five Point Spread Outliers
We’ve all heard the saying, “You don’t need to be faster than the bear, just faster than your buddy.” How about, “You don’t need to be good to cover point spreads, just better than where you reside in the eyes of oddsmakers and bettors.” I admit, I made that last one up but the concept certainly makes sense. College basketball straight up and against the spread results are fairly correlative. Skim through teams currently at the top of their respective conferences and a majority sport ATS records above .500. The opposite holds true for those bringing up the rear as “bad” teams tend to have losing spread records. But with 353 teams and 32 conferences, it shouldn’t come as a shock to see a few outliers. Below is a list of five teams whose records fail to line up with how they’ve performed from a betting perspective.
Georgia Tech (9-11 SU, 13-7 ATS)
The Yellow Jackets are proof you don’t need wins, good players, or a good coach to cash tickets. This is a team that lost to Ball State, 65-47, on its home floor. The saving grace for Georgia Tech is that the ACC is hot garbage and they got Jose Alvarado back from injury. Alvarado isn’t a top-tier talent but he does just enough to make his team better without moving the needle with bettors. Case in point: With Alvarado, GT is 9-4 ATS. Without him, 4-3 ATS. And once you get past Louisville, Florida State, and Duke, someone, by default, is going to post a winning record in ACC play. Tech is certainly a candidate with only one game (Louisville) vs. a team currently inside Ken Pom’s top 50 the remainder of the regular season.
UConn (10-9 SU, 11-8 ATS)
One of the more amazing under-the-radar betting stories in college basketball over the last two seasons. As a program, UConn has essentially hit rock bottom. The Huskies went 6-12 SU in AAC play last season and appear to be headed for a similar result with a current mark of 1-5. Yet since the start of the 2018-19 season, UConn is somehow 29-21 ATS including a healthy 11-8 ATS mark this year. Yes, their SU and ATS records are nearly identical but no elite level program has fallen harder than UConn (they won it all in 2014!). Not sure if it’s Dan Hurley or the lack of market respect that’s been the catalyst for 58% ATS winners over a season and a half. Either way, this is a bad basketball team that has consistently found ways to get inside the number.
LSU (15-4 SU, 9-9-1 ATS)
They say good teams find ways to win closes games but LSU is doing so at a historical level. The Tigers’ last six wins came by margins of 2, 1, 4 (OT), 4, 2, and 2. They’ve also lost three games by two points so not every bounce has gone their way. But while they’ve been pulling out barn burner after barn burner, they haven’t been rewarding their backers, hence a current streak of 3-6-1 ATS. The main reason is one of the SEC’s weakest defenses. In five of those six aforementioned close wins, the Tigers led by double-digits at one point. Last weekend, they were up on Texas 52-36 and yet trailed at the last media timeout. An in-game bettors’ dream: Any point spread of, say, more than +7, take the dog!
Wright State (18-4 SU, 10-9-1 ATS)
The Raiders appear to be a product of just being way better (particularly when it comes to statistics) than the rest of the Horizon. When you are 18-4 and 8-1 in league play and no. 1 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, oddsmakers tend to notice. And when you beat the second-best team in the league (Northern Kentucky) 95-63, rest assure, there won’t be many discounts moving forward. I follow this team closely and one of Scott Nagy’s ongoing concerns is lack of focus. Two weeks ago we saw WSU lose to UIC outright as -6.5 favorites. They also barely beat woeful Detroit, 70-69. After such a dominating win over their toughest conference foe, another flat effort potentially looms on Friday with a trip to Milwaukee.
Florida State (17-2 SU, 9-10 ATS)
Like LSU, the Seminoles have had a recent habit of winning games but allowing the underdog to stick around (3-0 SU, 0-3 ATS). FSU is no stranger to success as a program but after losing a slew of key players one would think a 17-2 record would yield better ATS results. Perhaps it’s the Gambling Gods’ way of letting us know this is a good but far from elite team, like their record suggests.