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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, January 13, 2014 at 5:00 PM

I was perusing the ATS records for college basketball teams this morning during breakfast, and a few things jumped out at me that seemed well-suited for a “read-and-react” article for college basketball to this point in the season.

Get your pencils and papers ready. Today’s class in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping is about to begin!

Here’s a list, through Sunday’s action, of the best ATS teams in each of the major college basketball conferences. I’ll put them in alphabetical order by conference.

American Athletic Conference: Cincinnati 8-3 ATS

Atlantic 10: Dayton 8-4 ATS

ACC: Florida State 10-3 ATS

Big 12: Iowa State 9-4 ATS

Big East: Villanova 11-3 ATS

Big 10: Wisconsin 11-5 ATS

Pac 12: Arizona 12-4 ATS

SEC: South Carolina 7-4-1 ATS


Of note to me:

*Note how ATS success is often connected to being AWAY from the biases of media coverage. Many believe there’s an East Coast bias in the national media because ESPN is so close to New York, where the other major media entities are based. Others feel ESPN is too much in love with the traditional powers, constantly hyping the same teams over and over again. The teams above generally aren’t media darlings. Arizona is pretty close…but UCLA still gets more hype than they do. Wisconsin is on TV a lot in the Big 10, but are often chided for playing “ugly” basketball. While Florida State was winning a football championship, their basketball team was cashing tickets left and right.

*Think about the names you DON’T see up there that were prevalent in preseason coverage. Generally speaking, if I said “name the preseason pick to win such-and-such conference,” you could do that off the top of your head…but they wouldn’t be on the list of top ATS teams except for Arizona in the Pac 12. It’s very hard for projected super-teams to cover spreads. That’s who the public wants to bet…so the lines are shaded against them. Plus, it’s very hard for that type of team to play great every time out. If they mix great games with pedestrian outings….they’re going to be 50/50 ATS. Your best “blowout” bets often aren’t on superpowers…but rather are on the next rung of teams who want to make a case that they belong in the superpower class. Iowa State got tired of hearing all the coverage about Kansas. Wisconsin got tired of hearing about Michigan State and Ohio State. Villanova got tired of hearing about how weak the Big East was going to be since a few teams left.  

*Note how it’s very hard to crack 67% this deep into the season. I’ve cherry-picked the best from every league…which means everyone else is below the thresholds you see above. You’re betting into an informed market. Oddsmakers do make nightly mistakes…but they generally get things corrected. I encourage you to find undervalued or overpriced teams and bet accordingly. Just remember that the bulk of your handicapping profits will come from finding great situations for a huge performance rather than riding a handful of hot teams (or fading a handful of cold teams).

*The SEC is awful! Everybody but South Carolina was at 7-5 ATS or worse (mostly worse). Something like that really jumps out when you look at performances in the other major conferences. There are no pleasant surprises in the SEC, only “par for the course” or disappointments. Remember that come Dance time.

To me, this exercise suggest the following strategies:

*Generally avoid the media darlings unless they’re in a truly great situation

*Look to back the rung of teams that wants to become media darlings

*Look for live dogs you can use to fade the media darlings

*Look for value dogs that can cover big spreads against flat media darlings

*Focus on great day-to-day situations (using my emphasis on PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS along with THE MOTIVATION FACTOR) rather than hoping to catch a streaky team. There’s nothing wrong with riding out a streak with a team that’s been good to you. Just remember that the market corrects in a way that limits the length of ATS streaks in this sport.

There are several games in the next few days where that set of advice is going to be prudent. Get to work and find great Las Vegas bets! If you need additional assistance, my game day selections can be purchased here at this very website with your major credit card. If you have questions about long term packages, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters home office at 1-888-777-4155.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back again later this week to talk about the handicapping challenges inherent in Championship Weekend in the NFL. We’ll look generally at the issues involved in New England/Denver and San Francisco/Seattle. You regulars know that I can’t give out my personal picks here in the coursework. KELSO STURGEON is teaching you how to fish so you can catch winners for life!

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