Understanding Early Betting Numbers in College Basketball
by Doug Upstone Scores & Statson
We are through the first week of December and other than some Big Ten games and few others playing conference clashes, the action has mostly been nonconference play. The focus of the media has been Duke, Duke and more Duke with Zion Williamson shoved down our throats.
But we are basketball bettors, our attention span goes far beyond the narrow view of just a few teams because we want to make money betting. To do this, we need a broader perspective and realize what happens during nonconference play in not always indicative of conference action.
Let's look for a few teams from the wagering perspective and determine if they Real or Fake.
Fake - St. John's The Red Storm are 8-0 and have various TV types singing their praises and throwing accolades at former NBA star Chris Mullen. The sportsbooks absolutely love it, because there was a reason why they picked St. John's as a middle of the road Big East squad. The books hope the Johnnies keep doing what they are doing, winning games and not covering spreads (1-7 ATS) and maybe land in the Top 25, which will draw in more uninformed bettors. The fact is Mullen cannot coach (universally known) and if you look for any real true power ratings on St. John's they are listed 63rd to 90th.
Fake - Georgetown Somehow it just makes sense the G-Town and St. John's should be linked together thru time, especially knowing Mullen is coaching one team and Patrick Ewing is coaching the Hoyas. Georgetown is also wearing the fraud hat. Georgetown is 7-2 SU but has beat the spread just three times. There most impressive victory is against a 2-7 Illinois, as the oddsmakers somehow made the Hoyas a nine-point road underdog versus an Illini club that could not guard a parked car. No worries, Georgetown's record will start leveling off soon.
Real - Nevada Eric Musselman was not a washout as an NBA head coach at Golden State (2002-04) and Sacramento (2006-07), but he was not a success either. After getting a DUI when coaching the Kings (he was and remains a noted one drink guy, except that night), he had to go back and restart his career. He landed in Nevada in 2015 and came up with the idea of embracing players that were not happy where they were and invented Nevada into a place where transfers could settle.
Last year, a talented Wolf Pack squad using NBA principles made it to the Sweet 16, before falling by one-point to Cinderella Loyola-Chicago. Nevada welcomed back three starters who tested the NBA waters and brought in its best recruiting class likely ever and has more transfers who have added depth and size. At 9-0 and 7-1 ATS, Nevada has beaten bigger brand names in BYU and USC and got a measure of revenge in beating the Ramblers in Chicago 79-65 as four-point favorites. This is a very good team who is 100 percent legit.
Real - San Francisco The Dons are 8-1 and 7-1-1 ATS and second-year head coach Kyle Smith deserves much of the credit. San Francisco is scoring 80+ PPG while yielding less than 60. Their lone setback was to an undefeated Buffalo team, 85-81, which went according to form as a Push. They also defeated a solid Harvard squad and while California is not close to being a good team out of the Pac-12, the Dons winning by 17 at Berkeley is notable.
With Gonzaga No.1 and San Francisco, San Diego and Loyola Marymount all vastly improved, the West Coast Conference will be more interesting than possibly ever.
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