Cats & Rats: Nebraska Back as Top Cat; New King Rat Crowned

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 2:02 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 2:02 PM UTC

The last week of the regular season is upon us, so let’s see who has been good and bad against the spread before the real madness of March kicks in.

College Basketball: Top 5 ATS Cats, Week 171. Nebraska 22-7-0 ATS (Last week: No. 2)

Nebraska (22-9 SU, 22-7-0 ATS) went 2-0 SU/ATS in Week 16 to return to the Top Cat spot with home victories and ATS covers against Indiana, 66-57 as 3-point favorites (U, 139½); and Penn State, 76-64 again as 3-point home chalks (O, 137½). Nebraska (No. 54 KenPom.com ranking) covered the point spread for the 11th time in the L12 games. The Cornhuskers improved to a torrid 18-2 ATS the L20 games (90 percent), with both ATS losses against Illinois. Nebraska also has been a very strong "under" team this season (10-19 O/U). The Cornhuskers are seeded No. 4 in the Big Ten Conference Tournament and have a bye until Friday's quarterfinals. Big Red seems to have done more than enough to punch their ticket to the Big Dance, although the latest bracketology placements from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi show Nebraska (+4.9 ppg vs. ATS) as one of his “First Four Out.” With the season this team has had in an underrated Big Ten, their omission come Selection Sunday would be a travesty. No sleep till Lincoln?

2. Virginia 18-6-1 (Last week: No. 1)

Virginia (25-2 SU, 19-5-1 ATS) keeps truckin’ right along, registering a 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS Week 16. They defeated Georgia Tech 65-54 at home, failing to cover ATS as 15½-point favorites (O, 113); then rolled at Pitt 66-37, allowing seven first-half points and easily covering as 19-point road chalks (U, 116½). Yes, the Panthers scored seven points in 20 minutes. At home. The Cavaliers (No. 1 KenPom.com) are still on track to getting a possible overall top seed in the NCAA Tournament with a 15-1 mark in ACC play. The Cavaliers (+4.4 ppg vs. ATS) still play better defense than anyone else on any level of college basketball. Virginia (8/1 to win 2018 NCAA championship, Intertops) plays at Louisville (19-10 SU, 13-12-2 ATS) on Thursday, followed by its regular-season finale at home Saturday against Notre Dame (17-12 SU, 11-14-10 ATS).

3. Canisius 20-8-1 ATS (Last week: Not ranked)

Metro Athletic Atlantic Conference member Canisius (21-10 SU, 20-8-1 ATS) leaps into our rankings after winning their fourth and fifth straight ATS. The Golden Griffins beat Niagara 95-88 as modest four-point road chalks (O, 164), then topped Marist 98-74 as 15-point home favorites (O, 151). Canisius, which played its third consecutive "over" and wrapped up its regular season, has a bye until the MAAC Tournament quarterfinals.

4. Auburn 19-8-0 ATS (Last week: Not ranked)

No. 14 Auburn (24-5 SU, 19-8-0 ATS) is 11 games above .500 ATS after going 1-1 SU and ATS in SEC play last week. They beat rival Alabama 90-71, covering as seven-point home favorites (O, 152); and lost at Florida 72-66 score, failing to cover as 2-point road underdogs (U, 156). The Tigers (3.8 ppg vs. ATS) play Tuesday at Arkansas (20-9 SU, 15-14-0 ATS), with Auburn (No. 10 KenPom.com) a -2 road favorite after BetOnline opened the game at Pick ‘Em (favorite 5-1 ATS L6 in series). The total is at 163 (Bookmaker). The Tigers close their regular season Saturday against South Carolina (15-14 SU, 13-14-1 ATS); the Gamecocks won the first meeting 84-75 on Feb. 17.

5. Xavier 20-9-0 ATS (Last week: Not ranked)

Third-ranked Xavier (25-4 SU, 20-9-0 ATS) makes its first appearance on our list, edging out William & Mary (17-7-0 ATS, +2.2 ppg vs. ATS) and representing the rugged Big East Conference. Last week, Xavier (+0.9 ppg vs. ATS) gave it to Georgetown 89-77, covering ATS as 5½-point road favorites (O, 159½). It was the Musketeers' third consecutive "over" and the fifth "over" in their L6 Big East dribbles. Xavier plays Providence (18-11 SU, 10-17-0 ATS) on Wednesday before facing DePaul (11-17 SU, 15-13-0 ATS) in the regular-season finale on Saturday.

The Top 5 ATS Cats began this week a combined 99-37-2 ATS (72.8 percent).

Free NCAAB Feed The Cats Tuesday Pick: Auburn -2 -105 over Arkansas (Heritage)

College Basketball: Top 5 ATS Rats, Week 171. Charlotte 6-18-0 ATS (Last week: No. 3)

Conference USA school Charlotte (5-22 SU, 6-18-0 ATS) returns to King Rat status after getting smooshed like grapes at Western Kentucky, 93-55 as 17½-point underdogs (U, 151½); and at Marshall, 103-75 as 15-point dogs (O, 164). The 49ers (1-5 SU in C-USA) have L14 straight SU and are a money-burning 2-9 ATS the L11. Next up for Charlotte (-4.1 ppg vs. ATS) are two home games to end the regular season -- Thursday against Florida International (13-16 SU, 14-8-1 ATS) in what looks like a great spot to back the Panthers (6-3 ATS on road), who walloped the 49ers 79-59 on Jan. 20 in the Sunshine State; and Saturday against Florida Atlantic (12-16 SU, 10-13-0 ATS) in a rematch of a Jan. 18 game won and covered by the Owls 75-64. There’s joy in repetition.

2. Vanderbilt 7-19-0 ATS (Last week: No. 2)

Vanderbilt (11-18 SU, 7-18-1 ATS) has lived on this list all season (thanks to a horrible start) and will stay No. 2 after a putrid 0-2 SU/ATS week. The Commodores lost 88-78 at LSU and failed to cover as 4-point underdogs, then lost 89-81 to Texas A&M as 1-point home dog in a game that went "over" the total of 143. Vanderbilt (-3.0 ppg vs. ATS) plays Missouri on Tuesday in a Pick 'Em contest after the Tigers (2-0 ATS L2 vs. VANDY) opened as 1-point road chalks. The Commodores then play at Ole Miss (12-17 SU, 10-18-0 ATS) on Saturday, followed by the SEC Tournament.

3. Oakland 8-20-0 ATS (Last week: Not ranked)

Horizon League rep Oakland (18-13 SU, 8-20-0 ATS) returns to the Rattiness at 12 games under the ATS .500 mark. The Golden Grizzlies (-3.7 ppg vs. ATS) lost to UW-Green Bay 96-90 as b11½-point home chalks (O, 156½) before beating UW-Milwaukee 72-70 but failing to cover ATS as 5-point home favorites (U, 145½). Next up for Oakland is Horizon League Conference Tournament play on Sunday against IUPUI (11-18 SU, 11-15-1 ATS) in what might be the last chance to fade the Golden Grizzlies, although they will be the higher seed and the smallish point-spread favorites.

4. Fordham 7-17-0 ATS (Last week: Not ranked)

Fordham (9-19 SU, 7-17-0 ATS) returns to our graces after losing 76-52 at Davidson as 18-point road favorites in a game that went "under" the total (134½), then falling to LaSalle 73-60 as 4-point home dogs (U, 137½) as Fordham played its fifth "under" in seven games. Next up for the Rams (-2.4 ppg vs. ATS) prior to the A-10 Tournament is Thursday's game at George Washington (13-16 SU, 10-15-0 ATS) and Saturday's home game against Virginia Commonwealth (16-13 SU, 12-13-0 ATS) in what looks like a good spot to back VCU. Fordham is now a weak 17-22-2 ATS since 2016 (34.7 percent).

5. Connecticut 8-18-0 ATS (Last week: Not ranked)

Connecticut (13-16 SU, 8-18-0 ATS) makes the dubious Rats list for the first time by virtue of a six-game ATS losing streak and an ugly 1-9 ATS mark their L10 after an 0-2 SU/ATS Week 16. UConn (2-7 SU L9) lost 77-52 at Cincinnati, failing to cover ATS as 19-point road underdogs; then lost at home to Memphis 83-79 as six-point chalks (O, 134½) in American Athletic Conference play. The Huskies (-4.8 ppg vs. ATS) host Temple (16-12 SU, 15-12-1 ATS) on Wednesday, then play Sunday at Houston, where the Scarlet and Albino (22-6 SU, 14-9-1 ATS) are an impressive 8-3-1 ATS and what looks like another good spot to bet against the Huskies.

The Top 5 ATS Rats are 36-92-0 ATS (28.1 percent) heading into Tuesday night’s slate.

Free NCAAB Fade The Rats Wednesday Pick: Temple over Connecticut

Free NCAAB Fade The Rats Thursday Pick: FIU over Charlotte

Free NCAAB Fade The Rats Saturday Picks: VCU over Fordham; Florida Atlantic over Charlotte

Free NCAAB Fade The Rats Sunday Pick: Houston over Connecticut

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