College Basketball Betting Preview for Summit League: Where Does Oral Roberts Stand?

College Basketball Betting Preview for Summit League: Where Does Oral Roberts Stand? article feature image

Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

  • Max Abmas is back for Oral Roberts, so the 2020-21 Cinderella's are well known.
  • North Dakota State and UMKC serve as darkhorses to capture the Summit League crown.
  • Matt Cox breaks down the league from top-to-bottom.

The Summit League has always been a fruitful oasis for offense and that narrative will hold true, again, in 2022.

Prolific shot-makers and robotic shooters are scattered all throughout this league, while defense, meanwhile, will remain "optional."

If your degenerate synapses are screaming "overs," listen to them. Sometimes what seems too good to be true is, well, just that good. In fact, simply binging overs the last two years would’ve netted bettors a small fortune.

Since 2020, Summit teams are 266-201 to the over, a blistering 56.9% hit rate over a hearty sample.

Do curb your enthusiasm, though, at least to start. This trend is predominantly specific to intra-league games, where the pairing of offensive juggernauts and defensive sieves form a combustible combination, resulting in shootout after shootout.

In conference-only games only, overs hit at a 55.7% clip (176-140), proof that this edge dissipates during the non-conference portion of the year.

This dynamic isn’t going away anytime soon.

Here’s another fun fact: since 2014, the Summit’s conference-wide free throw percentage has ranked first or second out of 32 conferences every single year.

During that span, the Summit’s aggregate 3-point percentage has never fallen below third nationally. That’s not just a one- or two-year blip on the radar — that’s a systemic, cultural phenomenon that’s here to stay.

Which Teams Beyond Oral Roberts?

Everyone knows about Oral Roberts, the darling of last year’s NCAA Tournament, which returns Max Abmas and a cavalry of sharpshooters.

However, keep an eye on perennial favorite North Dakota State and up-and-coming dark horse UMKC.

Collectively, this twofer combined to go 20-16 against the number last year in league games — meager returns at best, fair, but their relative against-the-spread success is notable.

Why? The Roos and Bison are the Summit’s black sheep because they actually defend, a foreign concept to most Summit participants.

The returning rosters are built to replicate that balanced identity this season, which could serve as a small competitive advantage when conference play rolls around.

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New Coach + New Team = New Value

Despite the considerable year-to-year continuity seen around the league, two noticeable changes in the competitive landscape offer potential early-season betting opportunities to attack.

St. Thomas Tommies

Firstly, a warm welcome to St. Thomas, the former D-III powerhouse making the unprecedented leap from Division III to Division I.

OK, now hold your applause. Long-term, the Tommies are tailor-made for the Summit, both in geography and in playing style.

Short-term, this roster is still chock full of Division III-caliber players. It's important to reiterate that Division III and Division II, the playground from which Bellarmine and Merrimack came from, are not created equal.

Pointing to the successful against-the-spread debuts of Bellarmine and Merrimack in their first years is not apples-to-apples. St. Thomas faces a much steeper hill to climb in narrowing the talent, size and athleticism gaps.

Granted, the Tommies are slotted near the bottom of the preliminary analytic metrics, implying the oddsmakers will price them at a comparable discount when the season begins.

I simply contend that discount won't be cheap enough. Head coach Johnny Tauer is a terrific tactician, but his frenetically paced, end-to-end style is a recipe for blowouts in the face of lackluster talent.

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Denver Pioneers

Speaking of cellar-dwellers, Denver, the Summit League's piñata last season, appointed a new commander-in-chief this summer.

The Rodney Billups experiment was an utter disaster, which paved the way for Jeff Wulbrun to launch his rebuilding project in the Mile High City.

Wulbrun’s stylistic tendencies are largely unknown — he was groomed under Stanford head coach Jerod Haase — but he’s touted as an excellent recruiter.

On the surface, it looks as if he patched together a formidable roster to keep the ship afloat in Year 1.

The talent is sneaky solid. He landed the highest-ranked recruit in program history (Tevin Smith), along with Michael Porter Jr.’s younger brother, Coban, and three other solid newcomers, all of whom will be undetected by oddsmakers.

In summary, as scarred as you may be from betting Denver the last few seasons, the value pendulum is primed to swing back the other way.

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