College Basketball Betting: Analyzing C-USA Bonus Play
Conference-USA is at it again. I wrote an article last year explaining the innovative late season scheduling the conference was experimenting with. Unfortunately, the second year of C-USA’s Bonus Play is very likely to be the last considering the amount of criticism it’s received. The goal was to provide bubble teams with resume-boosting opportunities, but C-USA is clearly a one-bid league with North Texas owning the highest KenPom ranking at 73rd. Let’s break down each group’s schedule with the number indicating the team’s overall seed heading into Bonus Play.
1. North Texas
3. Louisiana Tech
The motivating factor in this group is to avoid last place. The bottom feeder is the only team that doesn’t get a bye in the conference tournament as the fifth seed. The schedule sure didn’t do Charlotte any favors. The 49ers are 2-10 in away games, which is by far the worst road record in the group. They also drew a home game against top seed North Texas. Charlotte currently ranks 10th and 8th in offensive and defensive efficiency in league play and would have benefited from being on Group 2.
8. Old Dominion
9. Florida Atlantic
UAB is in the best form of this group. The Blazers have won four of their last six with one of those losses to no. 1 seed North Texas. Point guard Zack Bryant (15 ppg last year) was dismissed from the team three games into the season but freshman Jalen Benjamin took the reins and hasn’t looked back. He shoots 81% from the free throw line and has upped his 3-point percentage to 38% in conference play. With their two toughest games at home against Marshall and Old Dominion, I see the Blazers running the table in Group 2.
UTSA has been C-USA’s biggest disappointment this year. The preseason coaches poll ranked the Roadrunners second and yet they currently sit tied for ninth at 6-8. Their ability to score points in bunches hasn’t offset an inability to defend (12th in efficiency). The Roadrunners are the highest scoring first half team in my model, which is more predictive than game totals. I’ll be looking to play OVER in most of their bonus games. Conversely, look for teams off an OVER game with UTSA to go UNDER the next time out if the market overreacts.
11. Southern Miss
14. Middle Tennessee
Here we have an appalling group of squads that have combined to go 16-40 in conference play. The lone bright spot has been Rice who has won four of five including victories over North Texas and UAB. It sets up well for the Owls and their no. 2 ranked offense to have success. Scott Pera’s squad features a talented array of scorers led by seniors Ako Adams and Robert Martin who both average 11.5 ppg. But like UTSA, Rice’s defense is lacking (13th) meaning there should be some good OVER opportunities throughout Bonus Play.