College Basketball Betting Trends: Best & Worst Teams ATS in First Half of Season & More
Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: K.D. Johnson & Wendell Green Jr. (Auburn)
Last week, Georgia defeated Alabama in the National Championship game. Not only was that a historic result, but it had an earthquake-like effect on the subconscious of the nation.
Everyone has now officially turned their heads toward college hoops.
Well, that happens to correspond with the midway point of the season. And during this time, Stuckey typically comes out with his college basketball update for everyone who was too busy betting college football to follow hoops during the fall (coming soon).
Well, I thought we could also dig into the major betting trends happening across the sport. So, I analyzed the most unusual, profitable and avoidable betting trends from the season so far, while looking into whether following or fading those would be strong indicators of things to come.
My biggest helper in this analysis was The Action Network’s Sports Insights subscription, which allowed me to build the systems you’ll read about below. Action’s BetLabs has the data and tools to analyze historical betting trends from every possible angle.
Without further ado, let’s dig into the top college basketball trends from the first half of the season.
Best Team ATS
Ladies and gentlemen, your top college basketball team ATS from the first half of the season is the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn has ripped its way from being ranked 22nd in the preseason to No. 2. That meteoric rise has coincided with covering spreads. This streak includes going 12-3 ATS as a favorite and 9-2 ATS at home.
That’s right, Auburn has been an underdog just twice this season, splitting the ATS results. Given the Tigers are ranked No. 2, I wouldn’t expect them to be underdogs in many more spots — KenPom doesn’t have them projected as an underdog until Feb. 26 at Tennessee — but it’s worth noting they’ve been untested in that spot.
Bruce Pearl is 68-64-1 ATS as an underdog in his career, for a modest +0.92 units of profit. But, he’s a lousy 14-18 ATS as a home dog in his career.
So, if Auburn somehow ends up there this season, keep that in mind.
Here’s the list of the top-10 ATS teams in college basketball so far this season.
|Team||ATS Record||Profit (Units)|
Worst Team ATS
Ladies and gentlemen, your bottom college basketball team ATS from the first half of the season is the Pacific Tigers.
Your WCC Tigers are 5-11 overall, but have started conference play 0-2. Their one quality win this season is against UC Santa Barbara. They beat the Gauchos at home in overtime, and UCSB currently checks in at No. 152 in KenPom.
In its 1-12 ATS start, Pacific has failed to cover by an average margin of 6.58 points.
But listen to this: ShotQuality’s metrics project the Tigers for a monstrous amount of positive shooting regression. In fact, the scientists over at SQ project Pacific should be 10-6 instead of 5-11, based on the quality of shots it produces and allows.
Therefore, it’d be wise to target Pacific going forward.
The Tigers are projected to be one-point home dogs against KenPom No. 188 San Diego on Saturday, and then three-point road dogs against KenPom No. 248 Portland next Thursday. I think we love those spots.
Here’s the list of the top-10 worst ATS teams so far this season.
|Team||ATS Record||Profit (Units)|
|North Dakota State||4-11-0||-7.37|
I’d like to quickly pick on Drake.
The Bulldogs were every gambler’s darling last season. Drake covered in its first 13 games and finished the season 20-5 ATS for over 13.5 units of profit and a 54.1% ROI.
At 3-11 ATS, the Bulldogs have totally underperformed this year. While I picked them to win the MVC in the preseason, I’ve quickly pivoted to Loyola Chicago.
Meanwhile, Monmouth covered in its first 10 games this season. So, maybe remember this story when staring at Monmouth -2 at Fairfield.
The Underdog Report
Speaking of Monmouth, the Hawks are your top underdog team ATS so far this season.
Here’s the list of the top-10 underdog teams ATS so far this season.
|Team||ATS Record as Underdogs||Profit (Units)|
In case you missed it: betting unranked teams at home against ranked teams has been a cash cow this season.
However, this trend started 14-1 ATS this season. Therefore, it’s been basically a coin flip since. It’s always a solid spot to bet, but I’d tread lightly in the future.
Speaking of another solid spot to bet: it’s been a rollercoaster betting home dogs this season.
On Jan. 2, betting every home dog in college hoops this season would’ve netted you over 7.5 units of profit. But betting every home dog since then — in just the past few weeks — would’ve cost you 15.5 units.
Given the variance in betting college hoops, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a huge bounce-back for home dogs in the coming month.
Best Overs Team
I don’t know why this happened — perhaps it has something to do with COVID protocols causing poor defensive play — but scoring in college hoops saw a huge surge recently.
Scoring in men's college basketball has exploded over the past month pic.twitter.com/wuDh7E1VBb
— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) January 10, 2022
Four points per game might not seem like a whole lot. But look at the effect it had on college basketball overs during that Dec. 20 to Jan. 10 period.
Now, unders are the hot play again. Scoring has seemed to normalize, so I’m unsure why we aren’t seeing closer to a 50/50 split in totals over the past week. But perhaps the market overreacted a tad to the month-long boom.
I can’t predict if we’ll see another scoring boom-and-bust like this again. But I’m sure water will find its level.
Anyway, here are the top-10 overs teams in college hoops so far this season.
|Team||Overs Record||Profit (Units)|
Watching Northern Iowa games are so funny. Every single game just devolves into a shooting contest.
Northern Iowa ranks 52nd in 3-point rate (44.3% 3PA/FGA) while also having the third-highest opponent 3-point rate (50.4% 3PA/FGA). Moreover, Northern Iowa is 121st in 3-point percentage (34.5%) while ranking 286th in 3-point defense (35.8%).
The electric AJ Green and the UNI offense will bomb from deep on you. But the Panthers will also allow you to bomb from deep on them. It’s awesome.
There was a total of 56 3s taken in UNI’s most recent game against Valpo — a 3-point overtime loss for the Panthers. The teams combined to make 39.2% of them, finishing with 163 points after the total closed at 137.
In fact, Northern Iowa has gone over the total at an average margin of 11.19 points.
But that’s Panthers basketball! And don’t expect it to change any time soon.
Best Unders Team
Believe it or not: Eastern Illinois is 12-0 to the under this season.
Who are the Eastern Illinois Panthers?
Just the second-worst offense in the nation. Literally. The Panthers rank second-to-last in both offensive efficiency (85) and points per game (55.8). They also rank 286th in tempo and can somewhat competently defend, which is ideal for betting unders.
Recently, the Panthers held the 10th highest-scoring offense in the nation, Murray State, to just 72 points. That’s over 10 points lower than the Racers’ season average (82.6 PPG).
In fact, Eastern Illinois has gone under the total at an average margin of 10.17 points.
But that’s Panthers basketball! And don’t expect it to change anytime soon.
Here’s the list of the top-10 unders teams in college hoops so far this season.
|Team||Unders Record||Profit (Units)|
|San Diego State||10-3-0||+5.91|
It’s worth touching on LSU, which is college basketball’s biggest mystery.
LSU currently paces the nation in defensive efficiency (81.2). The Tigers also pace the nation in PPP allowed (0.716) and defensive eFG% (41.6%).
The Tigers have a deadly interior defense, and they will absolutely crush you if you’re a motion-based offense. The Tigers rank above the 95th percentile in cutting PPP allowed, pick-and-roll PPP allowed and post-up PPP allowed.
But this is where things get wild.
LSU allows the fifth-highest opponent 3-point rate (47.9% 3PA/FGA), but is also second in 3-point defense (26%). LSU also allows 42.7% of catch-and-shoot opportunities to come unguarded.
Just look at these shot charts:
Image credit: CBB Analytics
LSU allows an above-average 3-point rate from every region behind the arc, but opponents are shooting way below average in every area.
This is wildly unsustainable and teams will not continue to brick every open 3-point attempt they have.
In the future, I’m hopping on the fade LSU and LSU overs train. But we’ve been expecting regression for weeks and it has yet to arrive, which worries me considerably.
Best And Worst Conference ATS
Author’s note: Because conference play started around the new year, every conference has gone exactly 50% ATS in conference games (obviously). Therefore, this only reflects how each conference performed during non-conference play, and the money won or lost will be slightly deflated due to the juice during conference games. The average margin of money lost is about three units.
The Big 12 has been very solid all season.
It’s also the best conference in college basketball. ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently projects that eight of the 10 conference teams will make the tournament this season, and Baylor is likely to still grab one of the four top seeds.
Here’s the list of the top five conferences ATS so far this season.
|Conference||ATS Record||Profit (Units)|
Meanwhile, the ACC is a dumpster fire.
After Duke’s road loss against Florida State, Miami (FL) currently holds the top spot in the conference at 6-1 — something everyone expected.
Despite many begging for a one-bid ACC this season, it’s likely the conference will still get three or four teams into March Madness.
Here’s the list of the bottom five conferences ATS so far this season.
|Conference||ATS Record||Profit (Units)|
Perhaps it would be wise to keep these two lists in mind when the tournament rolls around — in case a CAA team matches up with an ACC team.