Buy low, sell high. It’s a basic tenet of any type of investing that extends to sports betting. In this article, I’ll provide analysis of some college basketball teams to consider buying and selling in the coming weeks by looking into things such as potential shooting regression, strength of schedule, late game variance, and more.
College Basketball Teams to Buy
It’s important to note that it’s not as simple as just buying teams that are shooting poorly and selling teams that are shooting well. This is more art than science with plenty of factors to consider, but I hope to provide you with some insight as we get deeper into conference play in college basketball. Let’s get to work.
Teams that are underperforming shooting the ball typically don’t rank top 30 in offensive efficiency. However, that’s exactly where Texas A&M finds themselves. They rank 26th in adjO efficiency per Kenpom despite shooting a ghastly 26.8% from 3-point range, which ranks 353rd in the country.
Perhaps most impressively, this Texas A&M team is still 11-7 despite facing the 2nd-most difficult schedule in the country per ESPN’s BPI. They’ve proven they can handle themselves with a solid 4-4 record against Quad 1 teams, and that’s a positive sign for the Aggies moving forward.
Texas A&M hits the offensive glass better than anyone in the country, leading the nation with a 44.1% offensive rebounding rate. We should expect that to decline as they begin to shoot with more efficiency. Still, any extra possessions generated for microwave scorer Wade Taylor IV, who averages 19.5 points per game, is a positive.
The Aggies have three straight road games starting with their matchup against Missouri on Tuesday where they’re double-digit favorites. On Saturday, they host Ole Miss, who I’ll break down later in this article as a team I’m looking to sell. Don’t be shocked if Texas A&M is working on a 5-game winning streak leading up to their February 10 date against 5th-ranked Tennessee.
California Golden Bears
Late game variance can be a real bitch sometimes. Cal has played 19 games this season and five of those 19 games have been losses by 3 points or less. One of those was on an insane 3-point buzzer beater from Washington. ShotQuality has graded six Cal losses as expected wins this season and KenPom has this team ranked 352nd in its luck ratings.
We shouldn’t be stunned by some uneven early season results from this Cal team. Their top four leading scorers came in through the transfer portal and they had the second-ranked transfer class in the Pac-12. That class had a ton of talent, but it was always going to take some time for first-year head coach Mark Madsen to establish a rhythm.
The lack of continuity didn’t help Cal get off to the right foot against the 40th-toughest schedule in the country per KenPom. However, the path gets a bit easier moving forward for Cal. Four of the Golden Bears’ next five opponents rank outside the top 80 teams per KenPom.
Look for Jaylon Tyson to continue his scoring surge as he’s coming off a 30-point outing in an overtime win over Washington State. “I think we can start stacking them now,” Tyson said after Cal got over the hump with that huge win. I agree, and I’ll be looking to back Cal moving forward starting with their home game against Stanford on Friday night.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Big 12 is loaded with quality teams this season, and TCU had a rough go of it early in conference play. Four of their first five Big 12 opponents were ranked in the AP Top 25, and they still scraped their way to a 2-3 record over that stretch with a home win over Houston as a major highlight. Their losses against Kansas, Cincinnati, and Iowa State came by just an average of 2.3 points.
Overall, TCU has faced the 50th-ranked schedule by BPI, but there are some encouraging signs, especially on offense. Head coach Jamie Dixon’s system is working efficiently as the Frogs rank 32nd in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom. Senior forward Emanuel Miller is having a tremendous season with 16.3 points per game, and he won Big 12 Player of the Week last week.
TCU constantly looks to push the pace and leads the country with 22.2 fast break points per game. According to ShotQuality, the Frogs rank 5th in expected points per possession in transition. On Tuesday, TCU travels to face an Oklahoma State team ranked 320th in turnover rate per BartTorvik. I’ll be backing a veteran TCU team in that spot as they’ve proven they can get it done on the road this season.
Teams to Sell
Despite a hot start, advanced metrics suggest the following teams may not be as strong as their records suggest.
Ole Miss Rebels
In Chris Beard’s first season at Ole Miss, the Rebels got out to a pristine 13-0 start in non-conference play. However, they have gone just 2-3 in conference play and are licking their wounds after a 23-point loss to Auburn on Saturday. The Rebels have played just the 94th-ranked strength of schedule so far per BPI and the SEC will be a gauntlet for this team.
Both KenPom and ShotQuality have Ole Miss labeled as the luckiest team in the country. ShotQuality has the Rebels pegged as a 9-9 team masquerading as a 15-3 team. The site shows that Ole Miss has been very reliant on mid range shots and off-the-dribble threes, two of the most inefficient shot types – they’re top 25 in frequency of both.
The Rebels also struggle to clean up on the defensive end, ranking 259th in expected points per possession on that end per ShotQuality. Perhaps most concerning to me is the team’s poor defensive rebounding – against Quad 1 and 2 teams, they rank 347th in defensive rebounding per BartTorvik. That’s a huge issue against Texas A&M on Saturday, who feasts on the offensive glass like I broke down above.
The issue with Ole Miss is the market is increasingly cognizant of their lucky start and looming regression. Still, Texas A&M has huge matchup advantages and should have a rocking home atmosphere on Saturday. If you’re eyeing that spot with me, root for an Arkansas win on the road on Wednesday as we’ll likely get a better number on Texas A&M.
Arizona State Sun Devils
The Pac-12 is fairly comfortably the worst of the Power Six conferences this season, and there are a handful of teams I’m looking to fade if they make the tournament. Arizona State tops that list. The Sun Devils have gone 5-2 in conference play, but three of those five wins have come by three or fewer points. I’m not buying it.
This Arizona State team simply lacks offensive difference makers. The Sun Devils rank 192nd in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom. According to BartTorvik, that drops to 250th against Quad 1 and 2 teams. ShotQuality is even less kind, ranking them 341st in expected points per possession in the half court.
Arizona State attempts to run its offense through the pick and roll, but Alonzo Gaffney, the most common roll partner, is shooting a disturbingly poor 36.2% from the field. Meanwhile, guards Frankie Collins and Adam Miller are both shooting under 34% from 3-point range. Unlike some of the buy teams on this list, this isn’t an offense in the positive regression camp as they’re well below average in open 3 rate.
The Sun Devils are ranked 12th in KenPom’s luck ratings, and ShotQuality has their expected record pegged two wins worse than where they actually are at 11-7. There are some terrible teams in the Pac-12 this year, so I can’t tell you exactly when I’ll be fading Arizona State, but they’re very much on my radar in that regard.
It’s been a historic season for Samford as they’ve won 17 straight games. However, the deeper analytics suggest this run of form for the Bulldogs is unsustainable. Samford has played the 324th-ranked strength of schedule by BPI and has feasted on a slew of bad teams.
The Bulldogs have shot an absurd 40.9% from 3-point range, which ranks third in the country, but they only rank slightly above average in open 3 rate per ShotQuality. They are shooting about 7% higher than their expected results based on their quality of shot attempts.
According to BartTorvik, Samford’s offensive efficiency takes a big hit when it faces higher quality teams. The Bulldogs rank 12th in eFG% against Quad 3 and 4 teams and 333rd against Quad 1 and 2 teams.
I suspect Samford will be a short road favorite against Furman on Wednesday, and I’ll be looking to bet on Furman. The Paladins have looming positive regression as they rank 314th in KenPom’s luck ratings.
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