Texas Tech,Creighton,Virginia Tech
3/19/2009 12:00:00 PM
College basketball totals are one of the easiest offerings to beat, and the oddsmakers have been slow to adjust for several team patterns. Welcome to the 70% Over Club.
Many professional gamblers will tell you that college basketball totals are some of the softest numbers that bookmakers put up, and thus some of the easiest to beat.
This is why limits on CBB totals are so much lower then other offerings, and also why during the early non-conference portion of the schedule this season, many books did not post totals until after 3:00 PM ET in order to limit their exposure.
Now the numbers have gotten somewhat tighter during conference play, but this is not to say that they have not consistently missed the boat with certain teams. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on teams that have had at least 18 games that have had posted totals and have gone either Over or Under at least 70 percent of the time.
We have found seven teams with a 70 percent or better success rate for the Over so far, as well as four teams that have gone Under at least 70 percent of the time. Let us take a closer look at the 70 Percent Over Club (numbers in parentheses are records for the Over and combined points per game):
1 Austin Peay (14-4, 77.8%, 153.0) - We should also mention that totals from the so-called added conferences are generally even softer then totals posted for the major conferences, which helps explain why the top two teams in the Over standings are both added teams. The average combined total score of all Austin Peay games of 153.0 is nearly 17 points higher than the national average of 136.3, yet apparently the oddsmakers have been a tad slow to adjust their totals upward. This Over success is not surprising when you consider that the Governors rank a horrible 307 in adjusted defensive efficiency according to the Pomeroy Ratings, allowing a poor 1.097 points per possession. Meanwhile, their offense is ranked 98 with a respectable PPP of 1.057.
2 Portland State (16-6, 72.7%, 143.5) - The Vikings complete the added team exacta atop the Over standings, with their games averaging a little more than seven points over the national average. You may see this team in the NCAA Tournament as they are serious contenders for the Big Sky championship, so it will be interesting to see how their 74.3-point average translates vs. stronger competition. They do rank 88 in adjusted offensive PPP at 1.068.
3 Texas Tech (13-5, 72.2e %, 152.5) - The Red Raiders are the first major school to hit our countdown, and that is no fluke when you consider that their games are playing over 16 points above the national norm. The major reason for their Over success has been three-point shooting, both offensively and defensively. They are hitting 37.7 percent of their shots beyond the arc, ranking 49 in the nation, but their perimeter defense has been terrible, as they are allowing opponents to shoot 35.4 percent from three-point land, ranking 241 defensively.
4 Wisconsin-Green Bay (18-7, 72.0%, 139.2) - As you can see, the average combined score of Phoenix games is less than three points above the national average, which means that the success of the Green Bay Over has been due to abnormally low posted totals. Then again, Horizon League conference games have averaged just 127.8 points this season, so the Phoenix are actually playing at a fast pace compared to the rest of that low-scoring conference. It is worth noting though that UWGB does rank 35 in the nation in offensive PPP at 1.130, so perhaps their Over success can carry over vs. a faster paced team if they advance to the Big Dance.
5 Weber State (15-6, 71.4%, 136.8) - The Wildcats are the third added team in the 70 Percent Over Club, but unlike the top two teams, Weber State does not play at a fast pace, in fact playing practically right on the national average. Again, this is a case of a team that has had very low posted totals, thus padding the Over record. In fact, the Wildcats have a very good adjusted defensive PPP of .975, so do not expect their Over success to continue in games with higher posted totals.
6 Creighton (17-7, 70.8%, 139.9) - The Missouri Valley Conference has a reputation of being low scoring, so in that sense, it is not surprising for a team like the Bluejays to have a good Over record while playing just six points above the national average. That said, Creighton does rank 39 in the country with an adjusted offensive PPP of 1.122, so perhaps they can continue to go Over slightly higher posted totals.
7 Virginia Tech (14-6, 70.0%, 140.6) - It is ironic that in an ACC that has some of the highest scoring teams in the nation, one of the lower scoring teams in the conference has the best Over record. That is entirely due to outrageously high posted totals in North Carolina and Duke games though, while the Hokies have played to more normal totals.
Finally, here is a listing of the four teams that have been 70 percent Under machines this season (again, numbers in parentheses are records for the Over and combined points per game):
1 (tie) Nebraska (4-14, 22.2%, 122.6)
1 (tie) Eastern Illinois (4-14, 22.2%, 130.9
3 San Diego (6-15, 28.6%, 121.9)
4 Utah State (6-14, 30.0%, 132.0)
As you can see, all of these clubs are playing well below the 136.3-point national average, validating the Under numbers and diminishing the fluke factor.