NCAA Basketball Betting: Top Unranked Teams Report - Feb. 14

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, February 14, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Each week the LT Profits Group take a look at the top unranked college hoop teams. Here is a look at the top unranked and probably undervalued NCAA Basketball teams as of February 14th.

Just as in most sports, you are not going to do very well betting NCAA Basketball by playing on the more popular ranked teams, as those are precisely the types of schools that are usually overvalued by the bookmakers, especially with the name familiarity these clubs have even among novice bettors. That is why so many ranked teams “surprisingly” have losing ATS records, as they are often asked to cover double-digit point spreads, including large lines of -20 or more.

Therefore, just like any other sport, a big key to winning in college basketball is finding teams that are undervalued on the NCAA Basketball odds, and more often than not, that value can be found with talented unranked teams that are still under the radar. And we will continue be here every week until the conference tournaments start with our weekly lists of top unranked and theoretically some of the more undervalued teams in the land entering each weekend.

We will present a list of five top unranked teams each week while trying to place an emphasis on teams that play that coming weekend, and although there could possibly be a few exceptions, remember that the weekly lists should continue to be useful beyond the weekend’s games even in the rare cases where our teams are off, unless of course we blew the calls with our selections of them being underrated in the first place.

So moving on to this week, here is our list of five top unranked teams based on the latest AP Poll as of Friday, February 14th. All five of these teams are in fact in action on Saturday, with some drawing tough matchups that put their inclusion on this list to the test.

UCLA Bruins (19-5, Next Game - Saturday vs. Utah): The Bruins are one of two teams this week that are almost never on anyone’s undervalued list but must be considered as such right now. UCLA began this season nationally ranked and remained in the AP Poll for a while, and yet are surprisingly having trouble re-entering the polls despite some nice wins including road conquests of Colorado and Oregon. The Bruins are very well balanced, now ranking 17th in offensive efficiency and 28th in defensive efficiency, and this is a team that does not seem to have an obvious weakness following two more convincing wins in the past week at USC (83-73) and at home in a rematch vs. Colorado (92-74). Moreover, UCLA has even faced a good schedule ranked 57th in SOS. Yet somehow, this team fell out of the national rankings after an 8-0 start despite its first three losses of the season being vs. Duke, Missouri and then top ranked Arizona, and it has been unable to re-join the ranks despite beating four teams in the Pomeroy Top 50 and six in the Top 60since the Arizona loss. The Bruins are currently ranked 18th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings.

VCU Rams (20-5, Next Game - Saturday at Saint Louis): Frankly we have no idea why this 20-5 team coached by Shaka Smart does not get more respect, so we continue to hail the Rams as the single most underrated team from a mid-major conference right now. After all, VCU hails out of the Atlantic 10 and is are now 8-2 inside the conference leaving it a manageable 1½ behind the 9-0 Saint Louis Billikens in the A-10 standings, probably making Saturday’s meeting between those two conference kingpins the Atlantic 10 Game of the Year, at least until the second meeting in Richmond on March 1st. The Rams are also reasonably close to the Billikens in the Pomeroy Ratings at 24th overall compared to 19th for Saint Louis. And yet once again this week, Saint Louis is 12th in the latest AP poll while VCU did not receive a single vote. While we question the wisdom of that logic, we are not going to fight it as we feel it gives VCU nice value right now. This team was good enough to win at Virginia back in the second game of the season, a Cavaliers’ team that has now cracked the national rankings. And this team is certainly cut in Coach Smart’s mold, again leading the entire country in defensive turnover percentage at 26.6 percent, obliterating the national average of 18.5 percent, and this is after leading the country in that category each of the last two years.

North Carolina Tar Heels (16-7, Next Game - Saturday vs. Pittsburgh): The Tar Heels are the second team this week that is almost never underrated, and is in fact usually overrated, but not right now. It is a shame that the Tar Heels’ big home date this week vs. the Duke Blue Devils was snowed out, but we will still see what North Carolina is made of when that contest is made up next Thursday night. The Tar Heels have traditionally been scoring machines under Coach Roy Williams, but this could be the best defensive team he has ever had at Chapel Hill with the Heels ranking 12th in the country in defensive efficiency and 27th in effective field goal percentage against at just 44.9 percent. In fact, this is not a particularly good shooting team that ranks 77th in offensive efficiency and a poor 210th in effective field goal percentage, but the Heels have helped offset that by ranking 19th in offensive rebounding percentage at 38.4 percent against a national average of 31.6 percent. This team wins in different ways than the UNC teams of the past that would simply outscore their opponents, and that may be a reason why this version of the Tar Heels may be underappreciated.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-4, Next Game - Saturday vs. Loyola Marymount ): Gonzaga dropped out of the AP poll after losing a non-conference game on the road at Memphis last weekend, and that frankly has us wondering why. After all, that was not an easy road game vs. a quality opponent after flying across the country, and it had no bearing on the Bulldogs standing in the WCC, where they are again dominating the conference with a 12-1 record and a three-game lead over the conference’s perennial runners-up from St. Mary’s. The Zags may not be as good as the team that earned a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament last season, but this is still a very solid team that on both ends of the court that ranks 39th in offensive efficiency and 32nd in defensive efficiency while also ranking an amazing sixth in effective field goal percentage offensively at 56.0 percent and 26th in effective field goal percentage allowed defensively at 44.8 percent. Yes the Bulldogs are often criticized for playing in a weak conference, but this team has now tackled six opponents ranked in the Pomeroy Top 100 this year and won three of those games with none of the three losses coming at home.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-8, Next Game - Saturday vs. Oklahoma): There was once a time when the Oklahoma State Cowboys were 15-2 and ranked in the Top 10 in the AP, but the team is currently in a tailspin that has seen it lose five straight games to drop to 16-8 for the season. However, the talent is still there, albeit with Marcus Smart still having two games left on his suspension, and that makes this a dangerous team going forward in your classic “buy low” situation. Besides, other than one questionable road loss at a Texas Tech team that is actually playing some pretty good basketball right now, the other four losses during the losing streak were all vs. very good teams ranked in the Pomeroy Top 50 and this could still be a nice sleeper team once the NCAA Tournament rolls around. The Cowboys are 23rd in the country in offensive efficiency, and despite the losing streak, they have still protected the ball well ranking 16th nationally in offensive turnover percentage at just 15.0 percent vs. a national average of 18.5 percent.

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