We’re going to look ahead to the college basketball season and try and predict three teams that we can fade in order to turn a profit. That type of value can usually be found in a program with a big name that has a loyal following but doesn’t necessarily have the game to match. Let’s take a closer look at three teams that we should fade when possible next season.
Michigan State Will Not Be as Good
At the start of last year’s college basketball season, Michigan St. was the number one ranked team in the country. Within a month, they fell as low as 16 in the country. For two weeks in February, they were out of the top 25. The point I’m trying to make is, Michigan State is often very overrated because of their consistency. They’re never bad so pundits predict that they will usually be one of the best teams in the Big Ten, therefore making them one of the best teams in the country.
This year might be a little different although I still expect them to get their usual respect. The current AP Top 25 Poll which was released last week has the Spartans as the number 9 team in their preseason rankings. That is the highest-ranking for any team in the Big Ten and that’s what I think can be exploited early in the season. While they won’t play Big Ten games early, they’re still Michigan St. so they will play other big-time schools in the early part of their schedule.
In my opinion, Maryland (#12) and Wisconsin (#17) are just as good if not better than Michigan St. The loss of Cassius Winston can’t be overstated to this program. He was probably the single most important player to their team in all of college basketball last year. You simply don’t replace a guy like that although the Spartans do have some very talented players coming in as usual.
The Spartans also lost Xavier Tillman to the draft which means that their two best players are gone from last year. Most Michigan St. fans would consider last year a disappointment and this year they will be less talented. I think that early on in the season, there will be tons of value in fading Michigan St.
UCLA Another Overrated Blue Blood
Another big school that still lives off of its past reputation is UCLA Bruins. Last season, the Bruins finished second in the Pac 12 which might fool you into thinking they were a good team. That was absolutely not the case as the Pac 12 has regressed tremendously as a league in terms of competitiveness. Of all the power conferences (Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Big East & Pac 12) UCLA plays in by far the weakest conference.
The fact that they finished with the second-best record in the Pac 12 yet never made it into the AP Top 25 Poll is all of the evidence that UCLA and the Pac 12 are overrated by most casual college basketball fans. You see the name, you see their record and you think “they must be good right?”. If you watch college basketball, you know that simply isn’t true anymore.
While there could be a case made for them to improve next season, early on, you should expect to find value in their over-inflated lines. At one point last year, the Bruins went 1-8 ATS in late December/early January and only won 2 of those 9 games. The only game that they covered during that stretch was a game in which they were underdogs.
In their first game last season, they were favored by 17 and won by 2. There will be some expectation that this team has improved considering how strong they finished, which is possible but at the same time, early on I do see value in fading this team, you will just need to choose your NCAAB picks carefully.
North Carolina Is Good in Name Only
Last year was one of the most disappointing seasons in Tar Heels history as North Carolina found themselves out of the Top 25 AP Poll as early as December and they never got back in. This was a classic case of a team being ranked based on their name and not on-court production. Obviously voters can get it wrong but think about this for a second. To open the season, North Carolina was ranked 9th and moved up to as high as 5th two weeks later. As late as December 2nd they were still a top 10 ranked team only to be out of the polls completely two weeks later.
That means that the voters got it horribly wrong that isn’t all that surprising considering North Carolina’s pedigree. We just assume they’ll be good because that’s what they do. The thing is, they lost their best player and didn’t exactly replace him. The odds for North Carolina to win the NCAAB Championship title are +300 which is way behind favorites Duke at +100. Here’s my point; if they weren’t North Carolina, and we were basing it on talent, they wouldn’t even have odds available because they are not realistic contenders.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but last season they finished 84 in the Kenpom rankings which are a much more accurate reflection of where a team ranks nationally. North Carolina might be better this year but they still won’t be as good as the public thinks which is why I see value in fading them throughout the season.