Mid-Major Odds, ‘State of Conference’ Betting Report: ATS Elites, Top Under Teams & Futures
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Ante Brzovic (Charleston)
Last year here at the Action Network, we focused on 11 leagues for our “State of the Conference” series. Those 11 conferences included the power-six leagues, the AAC, Atlantic 10, Conference USA, WCC and Mountain West.
This year, we’re focusing on 10 leagues (power six plus AAC, A-10, WCC and MWC), but we also know that the Conference USA and the rest of the mid-to-low majors are incredibly important — especially to the success of bettors.
The first edition is now, as they give an overview of the mid-major lay of the land.
Here’s what’s on tap for this first edition:
- Top Four Most Profitable Mid-Major Teams ATS
- Top Five Under Teams
- Latest on Keg’s Preseason Futures Recommendations
Top Four Most Profitable Mid-Major Teams ATS
The Conference USA has been the fourth-most profitable league this season against the spread, thanks in large part to Florida Atlantic, which has gone 9-1 against the line.
The Owls currently sit atop the conference and are on a 10-game win streak. Florida Atlantic, which is a complete team, ranks third in the conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
Florida Atlantic may be a team to fade as we enter the second half of the season. The Owls face a significantly more difficult schedule than what they saw in the first half of the season, making it highly unlikely that they continue to cover at an extremely high rate.
Queens has quietly put together an impressive season so far, both on an absolute basis and against the spread.
The Royals may be flying under the radar to an extent, or perhaps haven’t been getting enough love from Vegas, at least yet.
Queens has a good offense, ranking second in the ASUN in scoring offense (80.2 points per game). The Royals are not a defensive-minded team however, allowing 70.8 points per game.
The ASUN has been the best conference this season against the spread, covering over 58% of the games played conference-wide.
A lack of defense and the conference schedule should drag down this Queens ATS performance as we head into the doldrums of winter.
North Carolina Central has buzzed through the bulk of its non-conference schedule as one of the most profitable teams in the country.
The Eagles will look to remain a bettor’s ally as the favorable MEAC schedule offers a reprieve in average opponent difficultly.
North Carolina Central ranks third in the MEAC in both AdjO and AdjD and looks poised to challenge Norfolk State for the conference championship.
Kent State is positioned as the top team in the MAC and is ranked as the 41st-best team in the nation, per Bart Torvik.
The Golden Flashes have utilized their lockdown defense — which ranks 12th in the nation in AdjD (per Bart Torvik) — to achieve an 81.8% cover rate.
The pesky Kent State defense ranks in the top 20 in both 2-point defense and turnover rate.
The Golden Flashes’ middle-of-the-pack offense will be able to do enough to ensure they remain a profitable team through conference play.
Top Five Mid-Major Under Teams
As evidenced by a win percentage of 14.2%, Merrimack has struggled mightily so far this season.
The Warriors are hitting unders at the highest clip of all mid-majors, though, and the second-highest clip in the nation behind Mississippi State.
Merrimack simply can’t put points up on the board. It suffers from poor shooting, as evidenced by its 25.2% shooting from beyond the arc, which is well below the national average of 33.5%
Defense has been its strong suit, however, with Merrimack ranking 138th in AdjD, per Bart Torvik.
Continue to fade Merrimack overs.
Boise State is in the middle of the pack of the Mountain West, but its defense is right at the top of the conference.
The Broncos have been playing shutdown defense this season and are playing at a tempo that ranks in the bottom 50% nationally.
On offense, Boise State also ranks in the bottom 50% in AdjO, putting up 100.2 points per 100 possessions.
A tough remaining conference schedule in the competitive Mountain West will be conducive for under bettors going forward.
Brown has played the 230th-toughest schedule to date and the road looks to be more arduous with the remaining Ivy League schedule shaping up to be particularly challenging.
The Bears rank second in their conference in points allowed per game (63.5), but are in last place in points scored per game (64.3).
As a conference, the Ivy League is hitting unders 63% of the time. Look to back Brown unders in a defensive-focused league for the rest of the season.
The Golden Flashes make another appearance in this piece as one of the most profitable mid-majors.
This time, it’s on the back of their outstanding defense.
Kent State has the 31st-best defense (per KenPom), allowing just 92.4 points per 100 possessions. The schedule looks to continue to be favorable for Kent State, as it enters the bulk of its conference schedule.
Ride the Golden Flashes’ defense the rest of they way, especially against the bottom dwellers of the MAC that have struggled with efficiency on offense.
In a tale that’s very similar to Brown, Harvard is playing good defense, but doesn’t have the offense to hang a lot of points.
The Ivy League has been the most profitable under conference so far this season, and the Crimson are allowing just 63.5 points per game.
Circle the matchup between Harvard and Brown on January 6 as the “hammer the under” matchup of the 2023 season.
Latest on Keg’s Preseason Future Recommendations
Keg’s Big Sky Preseason Futures
Montana’s offense has been impressive so far this season, and the team has done well against competition comparable to what it’ll see in the Big West.
However, its defense is severely lacking, and while that could be the result of playing high-level teams like Xavier and Air Force, it’s still something to keep an eye on.
With Montana the current favorite in the Big Sky at +275 — and as low as +150 at some shops — I don’t see any reason to do anything other than stick with the Grizzlies the rest of the way.
Keg’s Big South Preseason Futures
Gardner-Webb is just 5-7 following non-conference play, but it’s important to remember its non-conference strength of schedule ranks 93rd in the nation.
And with the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ current future being listed at +650, it’s worth adding a small piece if you didn’t get anything on them in the preseason.
Campbell, meanwhile, has looked worse and its odds have decreased down to just +1000. I don’t see the Camels being worth an add, and I don’t think we should pivot off of them at this point.
Keg’s Big West Preseason Futures
Hawaii took a massive hit, losing two of its best players before the season even started. Despite their absence though, the Warriors have looked better than I expected without them.
The Warriors are currently +800 on Caesars and could be worth a look if you don’t already hold a position on them.
Cal State Fullerton has looked bad, dropping games to both North Dakota and Utah Tech. I don’t have much hope for the Titans, but I also don’t see value in pivoting off of them.
The Big West likely comes down to UC Irvine or UC Santa Barbara, but I don’t think either is impressive enough — or has odds good enough — to move me away from backing the Warriors.
Keg’s Colonial Preseason Futures
- Charleston +1000
I don’t currently see any price live for Charleston, but I most recently saw I had the Cougars at +300 to win the Colonial.
This was likely one of my best calls in the preseason, but they’ll still need to get past Towson, which will absolutely be the Cougars’ toughest challenge in the conference.
Keg’s Southland Preseason Futures
- Texas A&M-CC +380
While Charleston may have been my best call, Texas A&M-CC is a front runner for my worst call.
I could go into a ton of statistical details as to why I have so little faith in the Islanders moving forward, but them losing by 10 to IUPUI tells you about all you need to know.
However, I think the Northwestern State Demons are a serious contender in the Southland. At any number +500 or better, they are absolutely worth a wager. I last saw Northwestern State at +900, but haven’t been able to find a line as of today.
The Demons are 8-4 on the season so far, with wins highlighted by outright upsets over TCU and Southern Miss.
Keg’s WAC Preseason Futures
- Grand Canyon +300
The Lopes might be 9-4 on the season, but their non-conference schedule rarely challenged them, and when it did, they lost.
I haven’t been able to find a number on Sam Houston, but if you can, it’s worth a bet at almost anything plus money. The Bearkats have far and away been the best team in the WAC, and it’s their conference to lose.