College Basketball Betting Pace Report: 4 Early-Week Over/Under Bets to Target (Feb. 21-23)
Chris Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Hill.
As we inch closer toward conference tournament season, there are a number of games in which tempo will be paramount.
Some games are fast-on-fast matchups, others are slow-on-slow. There are still a few that don’t fall into a typical “pace category” that hold sneaky betting value due to offensive and defensive trends.
From a Big South battle between Campbell and Hampton to a Mountain West showdown featuring Fresno State and Air Force, Collin Wilson breaks down four of the top over/under bets to watch for the early part of this week.
Monday, Feb. 21
Coppin State at Howard
Coppin State Tempo: 11th
Howard Temp: 22nd
Easily the fastest game on the Monday slate, the MEAC boasts the Eagles at the 11th-fastest tempo in the nation against another team with a top-25 pace in the Bison.
While Howard has maintained a steady efficiency rate in conference play over the last month, Coppin State has been the hottest team from an offensive perspective.
Howard is riding a six-game winning streak, while Coppin State supports a four-game losing streak.
The issue with the Eagles has been defense after allowing 89 points to Norfolk State this past weekend. These are the top two teams in getting to the free-throw line in MEAC play, making the dip on the total an attractive play on Monday night.
Evansville at Valparaiso
Evansville Tempo: 339th
Valparaiso Temp: 291st
The Missouri Valley Conference is one of the slowest-tempo leagues in college basketball, and two of the slowest-paced teams will meet Monday night.
A KenPom projection of 124 puts a focus not just on pace, but on whether or not either of these teams are capable of getting buckets from the free-throw line or beyond the arc. The Purple Aces and Beacons just met on Saturday and finished at 128 points thanks in part to Evansville’s 45% mark from 3-point land.
These two teams have been trending downward the past 30 days in offensive efficiency, as Evansville is dead last in the conference in effective field goal percentage and Valpo is near dead last in the country in offensive rebounds.
Neither of these teams get to the free-throw line, making the under the look at any number at 125 or above.
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Fresno State at Air Force
Fresno State Tempo: 356th
Air Force Tempo: 344th
If slow grind is the preferred style of basketball consumption, the Mountain West is prepared to entertain on Tuesday.
Both Air Force and Fresno State are bottom-15 in tempo, with Air Force’s average offensive possession length ranking third-to-last in the nation. KenPom projects a total of 115 for two teams that have trended downward over the past month in offensive efficiency.
The Pace Report is more than just pointing out slow teams versus slow teams and equating that to an under. There are spots when the market can be oversaturated and a contrarian play is needed.
That may be the case in this game because of the Air Force defense and its last-place ranking in sending opponents to the free-throw line.
The Falcons are also 333rd in offensive turnover rate, a stat that could translate to easy Fresno points. Air Force is dead last in Mountain West play in defending 2-point territory.
Any total below 115 will be worth a look on the over on two teams that are 16-9 to the over this season.
Wednesday, Feb. 23
Campbell at Hampton (Tempo 352nd, Tempo 115th)
Campbell at Hampton
Campbell Tempo: 352nd
Hampton Tempo: 115th
At first glance, this would be a game to pass over from a tempo perspective, but a closer look at the Hampton offense says otherwise.
Campbell is near dead last in tempo in all of Division I play, but the Hampton offensive efficiency is the handicap. The Pirates rank 353rd in adjusted efficiency on the offensive side of the court, ranking dead last in the Big South in 2-point percentage.
Hampton is 23rd nationally in point distribution from the free-throw line, but the Camels are the top team in the conference in keeping opponents from the charity stripe. Even though Hampton has a middling offensive pace, trips to the free-throw line will be limited.
The Pirates have been the worst offensive team in the Big South over the past month, while Campbell has trended in the middle of the conference.
The Camels’ slow-paced offense loves to pound the paint, ranking third in the conference in point distribution from 2-point range. While Hampton is offensively inept, it’s the top defensive team in defending the interior when it comes to Big South play.
KenPom projects 127 total points, but this will be a game circled for an opener when totals are released.