Stuckey’s Saturday College Basketball Betting Notebook: Fade Unbeaten Teams?

Stuckey’s Saturday College Basketball Betting Notebook: Fade Unbeaten Teams? article feature image

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: Malachi Flynn (22) of the San Diego State Aztecs.

Just pull up the action app and take a look at the college basketball schedule tomorrow. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Conference play is back and we have a loaded Saturday slate with intriguing matchups galore.

Here are a few key betting notes I wanted to share in regards to a few key games I had circled.

Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

Only a Pair

Only two teams remain without a loss headed into the first weekend of the new year: Auburn (-1.5 at Mississippi State) and San Diego State (+1.5 at Utah State). And I actually think Saturday may provide an opportunity to fade both (obviously depending on where each opens in the market).

It’s a good buy low spot to get Utah State at home after a bad loss on the road at UNLV the other night. Also, SDSU will likely not have leading rebounder Nathan Mensah, who looks like he’ll miss some time with a respiratory issue. Fellow forward Aguek Arop will also likely not play.

Plus, traveling to Logan, UT  is one of the toughest road trips in the Mountain West (and nation) with the extreme elevation. Not ideal for a potentially undermanned Aztec squad.

I expect a raucous crowd at the Smith Spectrum to lead Utah State to its 16th straight home victory — even if injured big man Neemias Queta doesn’t suit up — although his presence would only help.

In regards to Auburn, the Tigers also bring an unblemished record into Saturday. However, this is a team that easily could’ve lost a few games already to inferior opponents. Bruce Pearl’s bunch came back to beat Furman in overtime and defeated South Alabama by one at the buzzer.

They also trailed against NC State with five to go before pulling away late. I think the perception of this team in the market is artificially high as a result. So, do I trust an inconsistent Mississippi State to get the job done? Yes, for two primary reasons: Nick Weatherspoon and rest.

Mississippi State recently saw junior guard Nick Weatherspoon return after serving a 10 game suspension. He shook off some of the rust in his first game back and looked much better last time out in a blowout win over Kent State.

His presence enables guard Tyson Carter to slide over to his more natural position of shooting guard and allows the freshmen guards to come off of the bench.

It also gives Mississippi State much needed depth for a team that ranks 328th in bench minutes this year. You could tell that the backcourt (specifically Carter) was dealing with fatigue last month.

Weatherspoon’s return and an eight day break before Kent State served this team well. This will mark only their second contest since Dec. 22. I like both home teams at right around a PK.

Get a Grip

Getting back to the Mountain West Conference, they are using new balls with a ShotTracker chip for real-time analytics during conference play.

The ball is apparently harder to get a grip on as evidenced by a few San Diego State players complaining about their shots the other day.

The conference used it in a trial run last year during the conference tournament, but it could cause some shooting woes early on during conference play this season as the players adjust. It’s an interesting thing to keep in mind for potential MWC unders.

Regression Collision Course

Texas A&M (+14 at Arkansas) has had a dreadful start to the year but the Aggies have been running extremely poor from beyond the arc, shooting an NCAA-worst 23.5% while ranking in the top 100 in 3-point attempts.

How bad is that number? Just take a look at the teams that have finished below 25% from three-point range since 2000:

  • 2013 Howard: 24.9%
  • 2009 NJIT: 24.8%

Yes, only two teams have finished below the 25% mark — with a low of 24.8%. That means if the season ended today, Texas A&M would have the worst-single season three point shooting percentage by over 1%.

Don’t expect that to continue as some positive shooting regression will likely come their way in the near future.

Well, it just so happens that the Aggies face an Arkansas team that leads the nation in 3-point field goal defense at an unsustainable 21.9%. That’s almost 3% lower than the second-best mark held by FIU.

For reference, Houston led NCAA in three-point defense last season at 27.9% and only two teams have finished a season with a 3-point percentage allowed of under 27% since 2000:

  • 2008 VCU: 26.9%
  • 2005 Norfolk State: 25.3%

It might not necessarily start in this game, but this is a perfect regression storm from beyond the arc.

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