College Basketball Betting Report on Conference USA: Long-Shot League Title Selection & 2 Top Players
Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jahmir Young (Charlotte)
The Conference USA is a storied league with a lot of history. While it may be easy to discount it as a stepping stone or a transitional conference, when it comes to college basketball, the C-USA has plenty of contenders and the potential to be a multi-bid league.
This year is a bit odd for the C-USA, however, as many teams are set to leave the conference in the coming years. But we’ve got enough to worry about this season before we can think about the future.
The Conference USA is split into two divisions of seven teams, but there is a clear leader in difficulty with the C-USA West.
With so many teams in the C-USA, there’s no need to read deep into all 14. Instead, let’s look at the squads that are in position to win this conference, teams who could play spoiler and some players to keep an eye on.
There are four programs in Conference USA that I think can get to double-digit league wins and have a chance to win the regular-season conference title.
All odds to win regular-season title are via FanDuel
In Position to Win
The Blazers currently have the best record in the Conference USA, the highest ranking in the conference, per KenPom, and are the betting favorites to win the league title at +140.
It’s also worth noting that all three of the Blazers’ losses have come against teams ranked inside the top 100, per KenPom, and were by a combined 11 points.
UAB has been balanced on both ends of the court, ranking inside the top 75 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs opened their season with a 93-64 loss to No. 10 Alabama, but have since turned the corner. Tech has suffered losses to only NC State and No. 17 LSU since the Alabama game.
The Bulldogs have been one of the best in the country at 2-point shooting, currently ranking 32nd in college basketball by hitting 55% of their shots inside the arc.
However, they have struggled to defend inside the arc, allowing the opposition to shoot almost as well them (52.1%).
Western Kentucky had a slow start to the season, but has been on fire recently, posting an 8-6 record to conclude its non-conference schedule.
The Hilltoppers had an impressive 82-72 rout of in-state foe Louisville in the second-to-last matchup before Christmas.
WKU opens conference play against Southern Miss on Dec. 30.
From a wagering perspective, I would recommend taking the favorite — UAB — at any number plus money. It’s hard to see anyone knocking the Blazers off, but if anyone is going to do it, I think it will be Western Kentucky.
Western has a lot of talent, an experienced coach and one of the most balanced teams in the conference.
Wager on Western to win the conference at +400 or better.
North Texas has surprised many so far this year. Last year’s Conference USA champion only returned two starters, but has found ways to keep its elite defense intact.
The Mean Green currently rank 50th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. This is due in large part to North Texas’ ability to slow games down and force opponents to play at one of the slowest speeds in college basketball.
North Texas is 355th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom.
The Charlotte 49ers are 7-5 so far this season, but they have the offensive power to make some noise in the Conference USA.
Charlotte is currently 26th in the country in effective field goal percentage, and if it can tighten up on the defensive end, it can compete with any team in this conference.
Currently at +3000 to win the conference, there’s definitely some value here.
Players to Watch
One reason I’m so high on Charlotte is because it has one of the best players in the country in Jahmir Young.
Young currently leads the league in scoring at 20.1 points per game, and has scored 20 or more points nine times this season.
Someone else to keep an eye on is Camron Justice for Western Kentucky.
Justice had a WKU career-high 25-point performance against in-state rival Louisville, leading the team to its first-ever victory over the Cardinals inside Diddle Arena.