College basketball doesn’t see the shine of the nation spotlight until the football guys have their say, which leaves only the hardcore hoop heads wagering on NCAAB early into the schedule.
If you’re thinking of jumping into college hoops but haven’t been doing your homework all summer like the sharps, here’s a quick season primer to get you up to speed before the NCAAB season tips off Friday:
Figuring the futures
The Indiana Hoosiers opened at +700 to win the 2012-13 national title a few days after the confetti fell in Louisiana, behind favorite Kentucky at +600.
Over the summer, the Wildcats fell to +1200 after the bulk of their talent headed to the pros and the Hoosiers were crowned faves, sticking at +700 ahead of Kentucky and Louisville at +800. Indiana was also tabbed as the preseason No. 1 in the national polls last month.
Now that we’re on the eve of the new season, bettors are jumping back on the UK bandwagon, moving Kentucky to +550. Indiana remains at +700, despite some suspensions to incoming freshmen and UL is holding its best value at +1000.
Rounding out the notable programs are North Carolina (+1200), Ohio State (+1800), Duke (+1800), Arizona (+1800) and Florida (+1800).
Last season’s best and worst bets
Best ATS: New Mexico Lobos (28-7 SU, 23-9-0 ATS)
Worst ATS: USC Trojans (6-26 SU, 9-22-0 ATS)
Best Over: Hawaii Warriors (16-16 SU, 20-8 over/under)
Best Under: South Florida Bulls (22-14 SU, 10-23 over/under)
Tennessee Volunteers (19-15 SU, 20-11-1 ATS)
The Vols surprisingly finished near the top of the SEC pack last season and boasted a strong ATS record because of it. Tennessee proved it could play with the best in the conference, taking UK to the limit at home and scoring wins over Florida and Vanderbilt. Head coach Cuonzo Martin made leaps and bounds in his first year in Knoxville and returns three starters and adds JuCo standout D’Montre Edwards. With Kentucky, Florida and new comer Missouri hogging the headlines, the Volunteers could slide under the radar for second straight season.
North Carolina State (24-13 SU, 18-14-1 ATS)
Before you go scrambling for the comment section below to write some smart-assed remark about N.C. State being the favorite to win the ACC this season – hear me out. While the Wolfpack are +135 faves to claim their first ACC title since 1987, remember who they share the conference with. North Carolina State will always be a third fiddle behind Duke and UNC in the ACC even if they’re first in the standings. The Wolfpack need to knock off those two heavyweights, against whom they went a collective 0-4 SU and 2-2 ATS last season, before books and bettors start treating them as equals.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-12 SU, 12-14-2 ATS)
The Irish are projected to finish inside the top 5 in the Big East and some are saying this is a Sweet 16 team in the making. A roster loaded with returning talent, including all five starters, is a step in the right direction. Notre Dame does the little things that win ball games, namely taking care of the basketball. The three-guard back court of Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant and Scott Martin is one of the most underrated in the land.
Team to fade
Central Florida Knights (22-11 SU, 15-11-1 ATS)
The NCAA sent some of the Knights’ best players running for the hills with sanctions on the school’s football and basketball programs due to recruiting violations. With a tournament ban hovering over the program, top talents Josh Crittle and C.J. Reed transferred out and Marcus Jordan decided to sit out his senior year. That left Donnie Jones with returning starters Keith Clanton and Isaiah Sykes along with some unproven freshmen legs. Central Florida, which makes the jump to the Big East in 2013-14, may just want to put this mess behind it and start fresh in a new conference next year.
North Texas Mean Green (18-14 SU, 17-7-2 ATS)
Just like how Murray State and all-world guard Isaiah Canaan dominated the Ohio Valley last year, North Texas and big man Tony Mitchell could run the table in the Sun Belt – and beyond this season. The Mean Green have one of the best players in the country in the 6-foot-8 sophomore, who dominates the glass with his freakish athletic ability, swats shots into the 15th row, and makes the nightly highlight reels down in Denton. Oh, and he led the Sun Belt in 3-point percentage last season. Mitchell was projected to be a high draft pick last year and will be a lottery darling after taking the Mean Green to the dance and possibly playing Cinderella. He'll have his coming-out party versus another mid-major monster, Creighton, Friday night. Player of the Year - cough, cough!