With the college football season drawing to a close, the focus shifts to what has been a largely entertaining NCAA basketball campaign.
Most of the attention has been centered around the impressive crop of freshmen, but a handful of teams have made waves in their own right. From pleasant surprises to stunning disappointments, college basketball bettors have had no shortage of drama through the first half of the season.
Here are some of the highlights from the NCAA hoops season to date:
The Arizona Wildcats are the strongest of the unbeatens, surging to the top of the Top 25 rankings behind strong contributions from guard Nick Johnson, forward Aaron Murray and one of the strongest benches in college.
No. 2 Syracuse is also perfect thanks to a balanced scoring attack and stingy defense. Iowa State, Wisconsin and Wichita State enter the new year unbeaten, with the ninth-ranked Cyclones facing the biggest challenge to their perfect record with games against Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State over the next month.
Overall, the five undefeated teams combine for an impressive 45-18-1 ATS, covering at a 71 percent rate.
The three teams with the most highly touted first-year players have all stumbled out of the gate - relatively speaking, at least. The Kentucky Wildcats have slipped to 14th in the rankings despite a sensational start from forward Julius Randle, who is averaging 18.1 points and 10.6 rebounds while shooting 56.4 percent from the field.
Jabari Parker's Duke Blue Devils have plummeted to 16th, though Parker has excelled with 20.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. The Kansas Jayhawks are down to 18th, with Andrew Wiggins averaging 15.8 points but looking anything like a consensus No. 1 pick.
Those three college basketball heavyweights are a combined 19-19-1 ATS as of Tuesday.
Best ATS bets
Not only has Wichita State rolled to a 15-0 record to open the campaign, the Shockers have also provided bettors with tremendous value, going 9-2-1 ATS despite being favored by double digits six times in that stretch. The Cincinnati Bearcats are a low-scoring juggernaut, going 1-8 O/U, but are a strong ATS play at 7-2.
Iowa State is a robust 9-3-0 ATS, as are Big East leaders Villanova and Creighton, however, the Bluejays could be playing without star forward Doug McDermott, who injured his shoulder, and PG Grant Gibbs, who suffered a knee injury Tuesday.. Illinois has had one of the most interesting ATS campaigns of all, going 7-3 ATS with a whopping four pushes so far.
Best O/U bets
Rider has been the most reliable Over play in Division-I so far, going 8-1 O/U thanks to a top-75 offense and a defense that has surrendered 70 or more points on 11 occasions already. Sooner slugfests have been all the rage, with Oklahoma going 9-2-1 O/U thanks to an 87.3 scoring average that ranks it fifth in the nation entering Tuesday. Seton Hall's quick start in the Big East has been fueled by a 10-4-0 O/U mark that has been helped, at least in part, by three overtime games over the past seven weeks.