College Basketball Betting: Analyzing the First Month of Play
For me the biggest story is the totals. During the first month of 2018, the average totals were 68.1/144.1 (first half/game). For the entire season of 2018-19 the average was 67/142.1. After the first month of 2019 the average is significantly lower at 65.7/138.8. To be certain, I am unconvinced that the rule change has been the entire cause of the current situation. I have a few ideas, but those are still to be confirmed. Meanwhile we saw 113 games in the first month last year finish under 120, compared to this year where we have had 193 games finish under 120. If this trend continues, what will the games look like when they start grinding in March? Ugly, for sure.
What a dream fall for Ohio State fans. Not surprising, the Buckeye football team is ranked #1 while the basketball team was ranked in the top 25 in most magazines. Yet, even the most fervent OSU fan couldn’t have expected this. Kaleb Wesson has slimmed down and is easily the best post scorer in the Big Ten, maybe even the nation. One of the most underrated treasures in college basketball is a post player that can get you a basket almost any possession you need it. The Buckeyes have one of the best. Chris Holtmann has an enviable gluttony of quality guards led by the ultra-talented freshman D.J. Carlton. But for me, the emergence of Kyle Young has been the key. At 6-8, his athleticism has been impressive, leading Ohio State’s defense to a lofty #2 in KenPom’s ratings, behind Virginia. He can guard anyone and that’s a big reason the Buckeyes are 7-1 against the spread.
Ron Hunter left Georgia State for Tulane at the right time. The benefactor of a slew of high-major transfers, The Green Wave are 7-1 straight up and against the spread. No, the schedule has not been really difficult (#348 per KenPom). Yet, Tulane has passed every test but one. They have a big test Sunday at Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix against Saint Louis. We’ll see how much they have improved in American Conference play soon enough. But so far, Ron Hunter gets an A+ for his first eight games.
Texas-San Antonio has undoubtedly been the biggest disappointment. Roadrunner fans haven’t been this excited for a season, EVER. The administration rewarded Steve Henson with a contract extension prior to the start of the season. They “scheduled up” to try and improve their resume in case they were a bubble team by March. Returning a pair of dynamic 20 ppg scorers and a bunch of experienced players, the fan base had every reason to be optimistic. The season started and UTSA fell flat on their face. While the offense has been as bad as the defense, the expectations were squarely on the offensive side. Meanwhile they are 298th in 2-pt.% and 301st in 3-pt.%. Their only DI victory is Corpus-Christi and the bad losses are piling up. Hopeful bettors are keeping an eye on the box scores, as any improvement in shooting could signify an overall improvement for the Roadrunners.
The WAC was thrust into the limelight this season by being moved into the “regular games” section from the “extra games” last season. This was likely due to the conference finishing strong in March, with seven teams sporting winning records. So far, the WAC gets a failing grade with bettors. The entire conference is a paltry 23-45 against the spread. The overall straight up records fall between 5-4 and 3-5 for individual teams. The conference ranked 17th last year according to KenPom. They’ve dropped four spots to 21st to open the season. To be fair, the flagship team in New Mexico State is without their rudder, point guard A.J. Harris. Head coach Chris Jans is hoping to have him completely healed by conference play and the Aggies look to be the best of the WAC once that occurs.