College Cram Session: A view from the stands

David Payne Purdum
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2008 2:15 AM ET

One of the most difficult parts of handicapping college basketball for me is narrowing down the card.

With more than 80 games on a Saturday slate, it can be quite intimidating.

So how should you go about sifting through the games?

The best way, obviously, is to focus on teams you’ve seen play.

Unfortunately, that means I usually end up with the high-profile teams that are on TV the most. I seriously doubt that by watching a couple North Carolina blowouts that I have gained any more inside knowledge on the Tar Heels than the oddsmakers.

Edward Golden of Right Angle Sports takes a different approach to forming his card.

Based in Southern California, Golden focuses on local schools, specifically lower-profile teams from the Big West, Big Sky, West Coast Conference and WAC.

This is such a smart move for so many reasons.

Golden shuts down his college football service eight weeks into the season and turns his full attention to college basketball. He then attends as many scrimmages, exhibitions and practices as possible.

How many oddsmakers do you think are sitting in the crowd at California-Riverside exhibition game?

Golden’s extra legwork has especially paid off on college totals, where he won a documented 49 of his first 66 totals plays this season.

“I don’t spend really too much time on statistical stuff,” he said. “I focus more on tempo and [offensive] efficiency,” says Golden.

“I evaluate the talent and situation the teams are in. Certain teams struggle against the zone, certain teams are gong to do well against the zone. Certain teams don’t play zone. Certain teams press, and some teams can’t handle the press.”

Injury notes

•Bradley is down to only five experienced scholarship players. Leading returning scorer Andrew Warren has yet to play this season while recovering from offseason foot surgery.

The Braves lost starting sophomore center Will Egolf to a torn ACL in late November.
Bradley hosts Southeast Missouri State Sunday.

•San Diego State’s best player senior forward Lorrenzo Wade made his season debut in Thursday’s loss to Arizona. Wade was suspended for the first seven games of the season for a felony burglary charge.

•Portland State senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez, the reigning Big Sky Player of the Year, is questionable for Sunday’s game at Washington. Dominguez has missed the last two games with a chip fracture in his right index finger.

“Hopefully, we’ll get Jeremiah back here in the next day or two, “ PSU coach Ken Bone said Friday on the school’s web site.

•Syracuse’s third leading scorer Eric Devendorf is facing a suspension for the remainder of the academic year for allegedly hitting a female student in the face. Devendorf is appealing the suspension and is expected to play when the Orange host Long Beach State Saturday.

•Undefeated Xavier got star freshmen point guard Terrell Holloway back in Wednesday’s win over Ohio. Holloway had missed several games with a stress fracture in his left foot.

“We’re just a different team when you add Terrell Holloway to the group we already have,” coach Sean Miller told the Associated Press.

Xavier is at Cincinnati Saturday.

Covers Community Q&A w/ AirForceWR19

Q: In a recent Covers post, you briefly talked about the "models" you use when handicapping games? Please briefly expand on your model for handicapping college basketball totals.

A: My models consist of the points for and points against per team in the matchup. I look at the previous three matchups leading up to the game and then use the averages.

If the team is playing a conference game or maybe a second game in two days, then I’ll add fatigue and other things that may be going on with the team.

Line movement is key also. Always watch the line throughout the day on the matchup you like.  When my models add up to the Vegas line movement, I then make the solid play. Do they win every time? No, but the percentages and value over the course of the season will produce consistent winners.

Q: Give us three teams that are flying under the radar.

A: Michigan, Miami and LSU.

Q: Three overrated teams?

A: UCLA, Michigan State and Purdue.

Q: Team to watch out for in March?

B: Wake Forest.

Q: Three Covers Community college hoops cappers you respect.

A: I have respect for all of the cappers here. But I would have to go with Rod Steel, BillyBuck and HappyKane. AirRainman and his Pipe players are classic and usually right on.

Q: What kind of car do you drive?

A: An Infiniti QX56.

Payne Pondering of the Week:

What information best benefits bettors heading into the college basketball weekend?

I’ll be with you guys throughout the college hoops season and want to make sure I’m providing the kind of information that will benefit you the most.

Do you want injury reports? Statistical breakdowns? Picks with writeups?

You make the call.

I’ll be posting my plays before Saturday’s noon tip-offs in the commenting section and hope to find lots of suggestions on what kind of info you guys want throughout the rest of the hoops season.

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