The Creighton Bluejays were tabbed as this year’s mid-major monster and haven’t disappointed in the first two months of the season.
The small Omaha-based school out of the Missouri Valley Conference is ranked 13th in the country, sitting at 10-1 SU. More importantly to college hoops bettors, the Bluejays have posted an 8-1 ATS record in that span.
Creighton isn’t the only mid-major program making big bucks to start the schedule. Here are four other lesser-known schools proving to be solid bets in non-conference play:
Wyoming Cowboys (10-0 SU, 6-1 ATS)
The Cowboys are contending in the Mountain West Conference and are one of just seven programs with perfect records so far. Among the other unblemished schools are powerhouses like Duke, Syracuse, Michigan and Arizona. Nice company. Wyoming has been working on improving its depth during a 10-day delay during finals. The Cowboys will look to their bench more when they face Denver Tuesday.
Charlotte 49ers (10-1 SU, 6-2 ATS)
The Atlantic 10 may be considered better than a mid-major conference among NCAAB heads but the 49ers aren't counted among the A-10’s elite. Charlotte is off and running with just one loss – to Miami – and has managed to cover in six of those games. Defense has been the focus for Alan Major’s troops. The 49ers are limiting foes to 37.3 percent shooting and give up only 60.8 points per game. It’s no wonder they’re also 0-4 over/under on the year.
Illinois-Chicago Flames (9-1 SU, 8-1 ATS)
The Flames weren’t expected to contend in the Horizon League, even with Butler jumping ship. But, UIC has ample experience and a deadly back court punch in Gary Talton and Daniel Barnes, who combine to average 26 points and almost eight assists per game. The Flames already have some resume wins over Northwestern, Mercer and Iona and nearly knocked off No. 20 New Mexico. Five of UIC’s covers have come as an underdog.
North Dakota State Bison (9-3 SU, 8-2 ATS)
The Bison are tuning up for what should be an exciting race in the Summit League. North Dakota State has great offensive balance with three players averaging double figures and another putting up 9.8 points a game. Saul Phillips has tested his team early with matchups versus Indiana and Minnesota and has scheduled the majority of the opening games away from Fargo.