Illinois goes 'over,' Utah St. stays 'under'

By: Chuck Harter | Monday, December 21, 2009

Rick Pitino's Cardinals are a perfect 5-0 to the 'over' this season.

Hard to believe, but we’re already just about through with the first semester of the college basketball season. It’s been an eye-opener to say the least.

Teams like Syracuse (11-0 SU, 6-2 ATS) and Texas Tech (9-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) have pushed their way into the rankings with strong non-conference results. And they’ve done it with offense – each team has the 'over' at 3-1 heading into action Christmas week.

It always seems like the buckets are filling up at this time of year, when big-name programs are scoring 100 points against Division I minnows. But if you look at the overall league trends, there’s no profit to be made on the 'over' at 310-293, or 51.4 percent.

Many of the high-scoring games in question don’t draw any betting odds, like the 101-55 pounding Syracuse put on the Maine Black Bears (America East Conference) earlier this month. Other games will see a pointspread, but no total. Too bad, because this is a great time of year to hammer the soft college hoops market.

Let’s take a look at the 10 teams that have posted a perfect record on the totals thus far, either 'over' or 'under' (minimum four games).

Illinois Fighting Illini (7-0 'over')
The Illini have a competitive offense with all five starters scoring in double digits, but the defense ranks No. 101 in the nation in efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats. Only 4.4 percent of their shot attempts are blocked; the Division I average is 9.1 percent. Height matters.

Louisville Cardinals (5-0 'over')
Rick Pitino’s squad is very young and not all that great on defense at No. 94 in Division I. But scoring is clearly not a problem; the Cardinals are hitting 55 percent of their two-point attempts.

Portland State Vikings (5-0 'over')
Going out West to the Big Sky Conference, the Vikings are a study in extremes, with the No. 25-ranked offense and the No. 346-ranked defense. That’s out of 347 teams in Division I.

St. Joseph’s Red Storm (5-0 'over')
Put this one on the betting public. The Red Storm aren’t any great shakes on offense at No. 99, hitting just 30.4 percent of their infrequent three-point attempts. But junior swingman D.J. Kennedy is a force to be reckoned with at 16.4 points per game.

Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0 'over')
Again, this is a team with a poor offense at No. 149, and coach Seth Greenberg is emphasizing defense this year in an attempt to get the Hokies over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament. But they’re having no problem beating totals in the 120s.

Guaranteed College Basketball Picks

Fairfield Stags (4-0 'over')
You’ll find the Stags in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, playing one of the easiest schedules in Division I. It’s a very average team relying on freshman point guard Derek Needham (15.7 points, 5.8 assists per game) to feed the frontcourt.

Utah State Aggies (5-0 'under')
The Aggies are the most efficient team on this list at No. 36, but they’ve lost four games already, three of them by a combined nine points. This is also an incredibly slow team at an adjusted 64.2 possessions per game. The Division I average is 68.7.

UAB Blazers (4-0 'under')
The Blazers are next on the list at No. 37, and also very slow at an adjusted 65.9 possessions per game. This is a sound defensive team under coach Mike Davis with three juniors and two seniors in the starting lineup.

Toledo Rockets (4-0 'under')
The MAC has a huge discrepancy between big 'over' and 'under' teams. Toledo is on the 'under' side with a slow pace (67.0 possessions) and severe weaknesses on both sides of the ball; for example, a 62.4 percent success rate from the free-throw line.

Northern Illinois Huskies (4-0 'under')
Welcome to Brick City. The Huskies (66.6 possessions) have won just one game out of their first eight, and they’re near the bottom of the league in shooting at 21.6 percent from downtown and 53.0 percent from the stripe. Too bad they can’t decline those fouls.

 
 
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