Last week, I took a look at the best pointspread teams in
all of college basketball, with the goal of assessing which teams were most
likely to continue their ATS success down the stretch. This week, I’m taking the opposite approach;
examining the very worst pointspread teams in college basketball. Why are they so bad against the spread? Will they continue to be overvalued as
February rolls into March? Let’s find
The single worst pointspread team in all of college
basketball this year has been IUPUI
(Indiana-Purdue, Indianapolis); the type of team that only wiseguys bet on or
against on a regular basis. At 5-17 ATS,
no team in all of college basketball has suffered more pointspread defeats than
the Jaguars this year. The Jaguars play
in the Summit League, on the added board in college hoops – exclusive territory
IUPUI has virtually no homecourt edge, covering just a
single pointspread at home all year.
They’ve been besieged with injuries and attrition; leaving them with a
rotation that goes only seven deep these days. Statistically, their two biggest weaknesses
really stand out: rebounding (-5 per game) and defense (49% shooting and 77
points per game allowed).
But the real question is why a team like IUPUI is at the very
bottom of the ATS standings. Todd Howard’s
squad wasn’t particularly highly thought of coming into the season, expected to
finish in the bottom half of the league.
But they were much worse than expected through the non-conference
season, opening the campaign on an 0-10 ATS run.
The type of bettors who wager on schools like IUPUI aren’t
likely to be perusing aggregate ATS records very often. The biggest college basketball betting
syndicates are driven by computer generated power rating numbers. If their mathematical calculations say to bet
on any particular team in any particular game, they will, plain and simple.
Since that 0-10 ATS start, IUPUI has gone 5-7 ATS – not good,
but well within the expected range of long term pointspread results. Blindly fading the Jaguars down the stretch
of their campaign is not likely to produce significant profits.
Marshall has only
four pointspread covers in their 19 lined games, another true ATS bottom
feeder. The Thundering Herd, unlike
IUPUI, was projected to be a contender for the Conference USA title this year
after returning a trio of starters from last year’s 21 win NIT team. But like IUPUI, Marshall’s ATS struggles were
apparent from the get-go, as they failed to cover any of their first ten lined
games (0-9-1 ATS).
Since that awful start, the Thundering Herd have gone a
modest 4-5 against the spread, again, not the type of numbers that produce
significant profits for those betting against them blindly. But bettors who have faded Marshall on the
road – where they seem to have a lot of ‘quit’ in them this year – have been
rewarded throughout conference play where four of their five defeats have come
by double digits, all ATS losses.
The next two pointspread disaster areas both come from the
same conference—the Colonial. Drexel is 6-16 ATS; Old Dominion 6-15 vs. the number. But the two teams have taken very different
routes to get to their current status as ATS bottom feeders.
To say this has been a truly miserable season for Old
Dominion is something of an understatement.
The Monarchs haven’t just been bad – they’ve been awful, 3-21 SU, with
only a single victory since Christmas. This
program has been a fixture in the postseason for the last eight years,
averaging 24 wins per season during that span.
They won 22 games last year and got a CIT tournament bid.
But the Monarchs final season in the Colonial Athletic
Conference has been an unmitigated disaster.
Head coach Blaine Taylor, who was fired last week summed it up well: “The kids have good hearts, they've got good heads. They
want to try to do the right things. It's just one of those times in the
program's history that we're going to have to kind of endure.” Athletic director Wood Selig: "It's not
anything that any of us wanted. From time to time, even the best programs have
one of these kinds of seasons. I guess it's our turn.”
But since Taylor was fired,
replaced by interim head coach Jim Corrigan, the Monarchs have shown real signs
of life. First they won SU on the road
as double digit underdogs at Drexel.
Then they took CAA leader Northeastern to overtime at home this past
Saturday before falling short. Still,
following an 0-9 ATS run to open the conference campaign, there’s a realistic
chance that Old Dominion could produce some profits for their supporters over
the next few weeks.
Drexel was expected to contend
for the CAA title this year. Like the
Marshall team described above, those expectations have hung like an albatross
around their collective necks all year long.
At 5-6 SU in conference play and 9-14 SU for the full season, it’s clear
that Bruiser Flint’s Dragons have been power rated too high all year long, but
at 4-4 ATS in their last eight ballgames, once again, the best time for blindly
fading Drexel has probably come and gone already.
out the weekend with a 5-14 ATS mark for the season. Richmond and Portland both sit at 6-15 ATS for the
full season. It’s very clear that this
year, as is the case in most seasons, the strongest ‘bet against’ teams are
schools from smaller conferences who just don’t get much mainstream media
coverage or much public support from bettors.
The three worst major conference teams from a pointspread
perspective are South Florida (8-14
ATS), TCU (6-12 ATS) and Wisconsin (8-14 ATS). The Badgers
problems are simple to identify – bad offense, ensuring repeated struggles to
win by margin. Combo guards Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson have combined for only five
assists per game. And the Badgers shoot
below 62% from the free throw line; a major weakness that has kept them from
extending margins late in games. They’ve
won seven games in SU fashion while losing them ATS; a classic ‘can’t win by
big enough margins’ ballclub.
South Florida is another
‘plagued by too-high expectations’ type of squad. Stan Heath’s squad improved from 10 to 22 wins
last year and reached the Big Dance. This
year, they got off to a solid 9-3 SU, 5-6 ATS start. But the strong defenses in the Big East have
wreaked havoc on the Bulls limited offensive acumen. USF has been held to 50 points or less in six
different conference games, going 0-6 SU and ATS in those contests. Plain and simple – if you can’t score points,
you’re not going to cover many pointspreads!
TCU was expected to
be a bottom feeder this year. We’re
talking about a squad that couldn’t compete in the Mountain West last year,
taking a step up in class to face Big 12 opposition this time around. Yes, the Horned Frogs enjoyed a remarkable
upset over Kansas last week, earning their first conference victory in the
process. But for most of the season,
Trent Johnson’s squad, like South Florida, has been unable to put the biscuit in
the basket for extended stretches. TCU’s
54 points per game average ranks #345 out of 347 Division 1A teams. Even when a team is expected to be bad, if
they can’t score enough points to hang within the number, they’ll end up as ATS