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College Basketball Betting: Buy Low, Sell High Report


Early in the season, outlier performances can be major sources of skewed ratings in college hoops, with examples on both the positive and negative ends of the spectrum. One of the biggest variables contributing to those outliers is shooting luck, as the smallish sample early in the season leads to certain teams being beneficiaries or victims of the almighty basketball swing factor: whether the ball goes in the hoop. Below are a few teams on either end of the luck gamut, all of whom may offer some potential value moving forward for the opportunistic handicapper.

Buy Low
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (0-3 ATS, -9.7 average cover margin)
The longtime power in the Southland, SFA gained national notoriety for winning at Duke as a 27.5-point underdog last year, but the Lumberjacks also went 17-10-1 against the number, skyrocketing up KenPom’s rankings en route to a 28-3 overall record. With several key pieces back, SFA looked like the league favorite again, but disappointing efforts against Baylor and Louisiana Monroe this past week have cooled that optimism. The stark differences in 3P% (SFA is at 28.1%, opponents 48.3%) and at the free throw line (61.0% vs. 76.6%) portend a turnaround, though, if regression ever hurts, hopefully starting on Wednesday against Arkansas State.

Utah State Aggies (1-3 ATS, -9.0)
It’s been a tough start so far for the Aggies, dropping two of three games at the Bad Boy Mowers’ Crossover Classic against stiff competition and then falling at home to archrival BYU. A big part of that has been brutal shooting splits from downtown, and opponents’ 81.8% conversion rate at the free throw line is entirely unsustainable. The Aggies have tremendous size inside with Neemias Queta, Justin Bean, and Trevin Dorius, helping them rank 5th nationally in defensive rebound rate, and the defense could become quite stout if foes start missing shots at a reasonable rate.

UTSA Roadrunners (0-2 ATS, -22.8)
The Roadrunners have been run off the court twice this year: by in-state foe UT Rio Grande Valley and by Oklahoma and Coach Steve Henson’s old boss, Lon Kruger. Those two hit a staggering 27 triples on just 57 attempts (47.4%), while the normally effective Roadrunner gunners connected on only 24.0% of their own 50 shots. Some regression is surely coming to both numbers, making UTSA an appealing buy-low shot against Oregon State this Wednesday. The one caveat I’d offer here: this is a bad defensive team, so a lot of the shots the ‘Runners concede are open.

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (0-2 ATS, -19.2)
It’s only been two games, but Northern Arizona has been absolutely blitzed by both Arizona and UC Riverside, surrendering 52.0% three-point shooting while making just 22.5% on the offensive side. The Lumberjacks (yes, both Lumberjacks have had awful luck so far this season) now head to Colorado State tonight to take on a prolific Rams offense, but if regression sets in, they could have some value as CSU makes its Division I debut.

Sell High
Abilene Christian Wildcats (5-0 ATS, +9.0 average cover margin)
The Wildcats are still a relative newcomer to the Division I ranks, having elevated to that status for the 2013-14 season, but Coach Joe Golding has wasted no time in turning ACU into a Southland powerhouse. His system is predicated on aggressive perimeter defense, constantly ranking highly in defensive turnover rate, and that pressure has likely contributed to opponents’ frigid shooting. That 17.3% rate is entirely unsustainable, though – as is ACU’s own prolific 43.8% clip. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until December 22nd when ACU heads to Arkansas to pounce on this opportunity, as ACU has a long Division I break until then.

Houston Cougars (3-1 ATS, +9.0)
Another team known for its physical defensive identity, Houston foes have hit a paltry 18.8% from deep and just 58.4% from the free throw line. Regression from the charity stripe would be particularly harmful to the Cougars considering the high frequency at which they foul (297th of 313 teams that have played so far in defensive free throw rate). That could benefit both the OVER and Houston’s foes moving forward, starting with Alabama this coming Saturday.

UC Riverside Highlanders (3-0-1 ATS, +14.2)
In Mike Magpayo’s first season as a head coach, his Highlanders have been scorching from downtown thus far, knocking down 39.6% from deep. Coupled with opponents hitting just 23.5% from the land of plenty against Riverside’s considerable length, and it’s no wonder that the Highlanders have been a monster against the number so far this season. They only have one more Division I game scheduled before Big West play (hosting Southern on Saturday), but keep an eye out for some adverse regression biting Riverside in the near future.

UAB Blazers (4-1 ATS, +8.7)
Without doing any digging, it might appear that UAB has one of the elite mid-major defenses in the country. In five Division I games, the Blazers are allowing a paltry 54.6 points per game, with none of their opponents even managing 0.9 points per possession. Looking closer, though, and it seems that it could be an unsustainable run of awful shooting. Andy Kennedy’s squad ranks 21st nationally in opposing 3P%; in his final four seasons at Mississippi, his teams ranked 310th, 248th, 223rd, and 247th. This Blazers squad is not particularly big or long (154th nationally in average height), so some regression from deep – and the charity stripe, where opponents are making just 62.2% of their attempts – could quickly revert UAB’s defense to average.