NCAA Basketball Betting: Top Unranked Teams Report - Jan. 24

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 24, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

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 January 24th.

In all likelihood, you are not going to get rich betting NCAA Basketball by betting ranked teams, or just the more popular teams in general, as those are precisely the types of squads that are usually overvalued by the oddsmakers, especially with the name familiarity those schools have among novice bettors. That is why many top ranked have losing ATS records, as many are continuously asked to cover double-digit point spreads and sometimes spreads of -20 or more!

Rather, just as with in any sport, the key to winning is finding the teams that are undervalued on the NCAA Basketball odds, and more often than not, that value lies with unranked teams that have the talent to compete with the Big Boys but are often under the radar enough to offer value. And we will be here every week from now until the start of the conference tournaments during the first week of March with our updated lists of top unranked and therefore probably some of the most undervalued teams heading into each weekend.

We will present a list of five top unranked teams each week while trying to place an emphasis toward teams that play that weekend, although that may not always be the case 100 percent of the time. Still, even when the teams do play on Saturday or Sunday as usual, the list should continue to be useful beyond each team’s next game provided that we were not way off base with our selections of undervalued teams in the first place.

So without any further ado, here is our list of five top unranked teams based on the latest AP Poll as of Friday, January 24th. You will be happy to know that all five of these teams do in fact play this weekend.

Creighton Bluejays (16-3, Next Game - Saturday vs. Georgetown): The Bluejays may have fallen out of favor with the pollsters with their recent loss to Providence, although they did rebound from that defeat in a big way with a huge road win vs. the Villanova Wildcats. We see this as the perfect time to hop on the Creighton bandwagon before they get back in the national spotlight by re-entering the rankings, which may be imminent. This is the best shooting team in the country led by a Player of the Year candidate, as the Bluejays lead the country in both offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage. They are led by Doug McDermott and his 24.8 points per game while hitting 50.2 percent from the field overall and 44.0 percent from beyond the three-point arc, and Creighton as a team leads the nation in three-point shooting while ranking 12th in two-point shooting. It seems the Bluejays have made a smooth step up after being one of the best teams in the Missouri Valley Conference for many years, and they have now gained a bit of toughness defensively thanks to taking part in the nightly wars of their new conference, the Big East.

Virginia Cavaliers (14-5, Next Game - Saturday vs. Virginia Tech): The Cavaliers are one of the best defensive teams in the country and their offense has gotten a lot better since the start of ACC play, during which Virginia is 5-1 with the only loss coming on the road by four points in an excellent covering outing at Duke. The Cavs are ranked fifth nationally in defensive efficiency and 18th in effective field goal percentage allowed, and they have been especially tough defensively on the interior while allowing opponents to make just 40.7 percent of their two-point attempts! As great as those overall numbers are, consider that Virginia leads the ACC in defensive efficiency during conference play while ranking second in effective field goal percentage allowed at 42.9 percent. But the real revelation has been on the offensive end. Yes, the Cavaliers are still 68th in offensive efficiency overall this season, which is still an improvement over recent years, but they are amazingly third in offensive efficiency during ACC play while uncharacteristically hitting 41.7 percent of their three-point shots. If that unexpected offense continues, Virginia could remain undervalued for the rest of the season.

Florida State Seminoles (13-5, Next Game - Saturday at Duke): We are staying in the ACC with another team in Florida State that is often underappreciated because it usually wins ugly by winning with defense, but its offense has been a lot better than given credit for this season. Yes the Seminoles are 4-2 in ACC play, but both losses have come to the Virginia team we have ranked right above them, and the four ACC wins have been by an average if 12.8 points with three of the wins being by double-digits. The Noles will get an acid test facing Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, but we feel that are up for the challenge. Florida State is ranked 16th in the country in defensive efficiency and sixth in effective field goal percentage allowed, and like Virginia, the Seminoles are tough inside allowing just a 40.5 percent success rate on two-point buckets. However Florida State actually grades out better overall offensively than Virginia does, ranking 46th in the land in efficiency and 53rd in effective field goal percentage, and the Noles recently went 16-for-24 from three-point land in a blowout win over Maryland at home.

Tennessee Volunteers (12-6, Next Game - Saturday at Florida): Now we are going into the deep sleeper department as you will be hard pressed to find a better 12-6 team in the country than Tennessee, and thankfully that mediocre record should continue to give the Volunteers value for a while. It has become easy to forget about the Volunteers after they failed to make the NCAA Tournament despite winning 20 games last season after losing to Alabama in the SEC Tournament, and the 12-6 record this season makes bettors take them even more for granted. However, the Vols have been competitive vs. a nice schedule ranked 44th in the country in SOS, and all six of their losses this season have been by single-digits with the worst loss being by nine points to a Wichita State team which, oh by the way, is currently 20-0. This team has also had close losses to Kentucky, Xavier and NC State, so the schedule makers did Tennessee no favors. And yet through it all, Tennessee had continued to do everything well, ranking 22nd in offensive efficiency and 47th in defensive efficiency. The battle vs. the Gators in Florida Saturday can be most telling in regards to where Tennessee really stands, but do not expect the Volunteers to get embarrassed.

SMU Mustangs (15-4, Next Game - Sunday at Houston): Some were surprised when Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown took the job at SMU last season, but after going 15-17 in their first year with Brown at the helm, the Mustangs have already matched that win total in their first 19 games this year while going 4-2 in their first season in the AAC, and they have won four of their last five conference games since losing their AAC debut vs. 18-2 Cincinnati by eight points, with the only loss in that span being at Louisville, also by eight points. This stretch also includes a statement win vs. Connecticut, so Brown certainly has his Mustangs heading in the right direction. And as is customary with Brown’s teams, SMU is playing excellent defense ranking 13th in the country in efficiency and fourth in effective field goal percentage allowed, thanks to leading the land in two-point defense at a miniscule 38.3 percent. This is a team led by a couple of sophomores in Markus Kennedy and Nic Moore, so turnovers have been a problem at times offensively. However, once the Mustangs get that under control, they will be an even more dangerous team than they already are under Brown’s tutelage.

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