College Basketball Betting: Three Man Weave’s 3 Up and 3 Down
It’s Christmas Eve and there’s a rare pause in college hoop’s unrelenting schedule. Every team will cherish this brief moment to exhale, but that’s about the only common denominator shared across all 357 Division I squads.
Many teams are riding high, looking to parlay recent momentum into the new year. Others find themselves soul searching, itching to get back on the hardwood and course correct after a tough stretch.
Below, we highlight three teams in both categories: Three teams on the up and up and three teams on the way down. Specifically, we examine how they’ve performed to date (recent performance), what’s driving that performance (analysis) and where do they go from here (rating).
Recent Performance (since 12/6): 3-2 ATS; +12 point average cover margin
Analysis: The Buffaloes are on a furious stampede right now and showing no signs of letting up. All six of their wins are by double-digits including Tuesday’s victory over a stout Grand Canyon team. The Buffs have skyrocketed up the analytic charts by steamrolling inferior competition. They’ve ridden the steady hand of McKinley Wright at point guard and a terrific frontline triumvirate of Evan Battey, Dallas Walton and Jeriah Horne. The latter two were major wildcards entering the 2021 campaign, but Walton finally looks healthy and Horne is doing an admirable Tyler Bey impersonation as a jack-of-all-trades forward. The jig, however, is up and it’s appears time to pour cold water on these piping hot Buffs. Look no further than what happened down the stretch last season when CU went into a tailspin over the final two weeks of the season. The 2021 campaign is on a similar trajectory as last year but, historically, Colorado’s ‘Boyle Ball’ brand (aptly named after head coach Tad Boyle) always seems to plateau at some point – the question now becomes when? So far this season, the Buffaloes have been the beneficiaries of fortunate scheduling spots — playing teams making their season debut with minimal preparation and/or practice time or catching teams in the midst of a long road trip. Point being, we all witnessed CU crash and burn late last year. While a sudden downturn of that magnitude is unlikely, unfavorable regression is almost a certainty. Rating: Sell
Recent Performance (since 12/6): 5-0 ATS; +13 point average cover margin
Analysis: The only challenger worthy of containing those aforementioned Buffs are these Vols, winners (both SU and ATS) of five straight games. Simply put, Tennessee is laying waste to whoever stands in its way. While still trailing Texas Tech, Clemson and Wisconsin in KenPom.com’s latest Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Rankings, the Vols boast the #1 overall defense on a raw basis (uninfluenced by KenPom’s preseason projections). Santiago Vescovi may be the only weak link in the defensive armor, but his virtuoso conduction of the offense more than compensates for that nitpick critique. Perhaps the most impressive attribute about the Vols’ white-hot start is their wire-to-wire dominance in different game styles. Be it a 59-possession army crawl against Appalachian State or a 78-possession track meet against St. Joseph’s, their defensive force field remains impenetrable regardless of pace or opponent. Value still remains on these cover machines but hop in now while the gravy train is flowing. Rating: Buy
Recent Performance (since beginning of season): 4-1 ATS; +7 point average cover margin
Analysis: Think of Boise as ‘Tennessee Lite.’ The Broncos are long and athletic at every position, from point guard RayJ Dennis to the rangy wing trio of Derrick Alston, Abu Kigab and Emmanuel Akot. Collectively, their size and spatial coverage smother opponents and the talent supply is still oozing with upside on offense. The Broncos are hovering around 80th overall in KenPom.com, but Leon Rice’s historical track record and the talent-laden roster indicate Boise could still be on the rise. Rice’s two tournament teams (2013 and 2015) were legitimate top-50 caliber and neither of those housed this much talent. The Broncos boast a pro propsect in Alston and three other former top-100 recruits, including two Arizona castaways in Akot and Devonaire Doutrive. Imagine how high the Broncos could climb once Doutrive is cleared for takeoff. Rating: Buy
Recent Performance (since beginning of season): 2-5 ATS; -8 point average cover margin
Analysis: How can the state of Washington’s flagship athletic program be this bad? The Huskies might legitimately be the fourth best team in the state considering how well Eastern Washington and Washington State have played of late. Despite inserting Quade Green back in the point guard saddle, Washington’s been disastrous on the offensive end of the floor. The supporting cast has left Green on an island: Hameir Wright and Jamal Bey offer little to nothing on the offensive end, Erik Stevenson and RaeQuan Battle can’t buy a three, and Nate Roberts is an unfortunate downgrade from Isaiah Stewart up front. Add it all up and it amounts to, well, almost nothing in the form of competent substance. The only reason the Huskies are not slapped with the ‘sell’ label is that they’re being priced like a meddling mid-major team at this point. They may very well be that abysmal, but blindly fading the Huskies from here on out is a fool’s errand, especially with conference play on the horizon. Additionally, Mike Hopkins is tinkering with a few different lineup concoctions right now; a trial-and-error period likely to end in the impending higher stakes Pac-12 bouts. Rating: Hold
Recent Performance (since 12/6): 0-3 ATS; -12 point average cover margin
Analysis: Maryland ran roughshod over its first four opponents this year which convinced many that the Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith-less Terps still had the chops to compete in the Big 10. Then, the Turtle was quickly humbled by two heavyweights, Clemson and Rutgers, which promptly sounded the fraud alert sirens. The by-committee contributions the Terps were getting in the first four outings have slowly dissipated and there’s been a strenuous offensive burden thrust onto the shoulders of Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins. Don’t be so bloodthirsty to fade these Terps just yet however. The narrative that this is a roster devoid of talent in the wake of Cowan and Smith’s departures is false: Ayala, Wiggins and Morsell all carry 4-star pedigrees, while frontline contributors Donta Scott and Galin Smith are underappreciated assets on the back-end. Rating: Hold
Recent Performance (since 12/6): 1-3 ATS; -8 point average cover margin
Analysis: It’s a shame the Beavers’ opening day win over Cal doesn’t count as an official conference game because that very well may be one of their few wins against a Pac-12 opponent this season. With his prodigal son graduating this summer, Wayne Tinkle was left with scraps and spare parts to work with in 2021. He took swings on two lauded JUCO prospects, Maurice Calloo and Warith Alatishe, who have been respectable stop-gaps up front. But the incumbents from a year ago are now exposed in featured roles, unable to function efficiently without Tres Tinkle commanding all of the defensive attention. Peeling back the layers of OSU’s games this year reveals it may be worse than its surface-level resume indicates. Last week, UTSA led the Beavers by five points late in the second half before a furious OSU run flipped the script. Earlier this week Portland State played the Beavers to a stalemate for 38 minutes and actually took the lead with 1:13 remaining. If Ethan Thompson goes cold, the Beavers are extremely vulnerable as Alatishe is under-qualified for a 2nd banana post – at least by Pac 12 standards. Rating: Sell