Top NCAAB Teams Likely to Disappoint Bettors in March

Posted by Joe Solari on Friday,February 5, 2016 3:41, EST in

For many NCAAB teams and their supporters, the 2015-16 college basketball odds aren’t turning out to be as good as they expected them to be (I am talking to you chest-thumping Kentucky and Duke fans), and from the look of things, it won’t be getting any easier for them if they do earn a spot in the March Madness games. For others, the season so far is largely okay, mainly due to inferior competition in their conferences (hello Wichita State and Dayton), but once the calendars read March, it’s going to be a different thing altogether for them in the hardwood. I know we still have a long way to go and several things can change for the better or worse, but based on our early NCAAB betting readings, March Madness won’t be forgiving for the following top ranked college basketball teams.

Which Ranked Teams Will Dissapoint NCAAB Bettors Come March

#2 North Carolina

All teams, even the very good ones, lose every once in a while, I agree. I mean, if you look at this week’s top-25 rankings, everyone has something to show in the loss column (at least two losses even for the top-10 teams). North Carolina’s loss to Louisville on Monday is, unfortunately, not a team fault, but rather the culpability of one man—senior guard Marcus Page. Despite being a talented class act, the All-American has seemingly lost sight of the basket even when it is staring at him in the face. Against the Cards, Paige continued with his recent struggles, going 1 for 6 from beyond the arc.

This is nothing new as the once-hot guard is 5 for 36 from the three-line in his last six game, while making just one or fewer threes in nine of his past 11 games. In fact, saying Paige is struggling doesn’t even cut it anymore, the guy is abhorrently bad. And to think that this is the man—along with his also starting to struggle fellow guard Joel Berry II (1 for 5 from downtown and 1 for 10 overall against Louisville)—UNC will be entrusting to lead them deep into the Tourney; a lot must change soon. If not, the crazy March Madness will bring havoc-wreaking teams that will exploit North Carolina’s interior toughness and do what Louisville did, leading to an early exit of UNC from the March games.

#12 SMU Mustangs

The Mustangs started their season ferociously, rattling 18 straight wins off the bat, setting several school records and commendably rising high in the top-25 National Rankings. This week, they entered ranked No. 12 and had the opportunity to climb even higher and continue with their dominance in the American Standings. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, their characteristic nature of starting to falter when they need to win most has started to show its ugly head. SMU, after the 18-0 SU, have lost two of their last three games, including the 71-68 loss to Houston, a game that saw them post just 29 points in the second half. With teams such as Gonzaga and Connecticut meeting SMU soon, and both Cincinnati and Temple sitting just one game behind SMU in the American standings, I really doubt if SMU will finish the season in the top-25, or even make a good run in the Tourney if they get there. Their complacency and lack of concentration at the most important times is likely to limit their cellar.

#20 Kentucky Wildcats

Despite still somehow being ranked in the AP Top-25, the Wildcats (16-6 SU) are having a season to forget. In fact, following their 84-77 loss to Tennessee on the road on Tuesday, I have a very good feeling that the Wildcats will be tossed out of the top-25 (even if they win Saturday’s home game against Florida, a game I bet they’ll probably lose for a third straight defeat). And it isn’t just about Kentucky’s struggles in winning games, their funk is just as evident in the ATS lines. To start the season, the ‘Cats could only manage a 3-7 ATS mark in their first games. Since then, they’ve considerably improved in covering the spread, sporting a 5-5 ATS mark in the last 10 games, but with are 0-2 ATS and 0-2 SU in their last two outings. With such a concerning form, along with a pathetic spread mark of 9-13 ATS for the season, I’d pretty much consider Kentucky as a solid bet-against candidate in March Madness.

#21 Wichita State Shockers

Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker is definitely a beauty to watch, and honestly speaking, I think both players would make great drafts in the NBA. The fact the Shockers have a commanding four-game lead in the MVC standings and are riding on an remarkable 11-game winning streak is testament to how Vleet, Baker and the entire team is dedicated to winning games. My concern, however, is that Wichita State seemingly plays only well when it is facing its weak conference opponents. When it comes to non-conference games, the Shockers are nowhere to be seen—a fact that is affirmed by Witchita State’s four losses in the first six games of the season, all which came against non-conference opponents (TLSA, USC, Alabama and Iowa). So, whereas I have no doubt that the Shockers can run the table to the end of the season, if they want to, I am extremely confident that they won’t survive more than two rounds in March Madness, a place where they are highly likely to meet their antithesis in the form of strong non-conference opponents.

#25 South Carolina Gamecocks

It has been a good run for the Gamecocks and at least they’ll have something good to remember about the season; just don’t bank on those memories to include a good run in the Tourney. Yes, the Gamecocks started the season 15-0 and are currently standing 19-2; but this is a team that lacks the experience of playing in March, having last made a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2004. So, although I am confident that that they’ll end their Tourney drought, that lack of experience is something you cannot wish away. And to prove whether I am right, just watch how they will start to struggle (and lose) in their games against Texas A&M, LSU and Kentucky next week. If they pass those tests with winning results, scratch my predictions about them failing to do well in the Tournament. If they do, however, struggle as I have predicted, then find a way of keeping away from them as far as possible during the March Madness.

Bonus Talk: UNRANKED Duke Blue Devils

So, the Blue Devils have been struggling mightily with depth issues in the team. And after losing four of their last 5 games, the Devils have dragged themselves into the hell-hole of sitting out of the top-25 rankings for the first time in nine years. Still, this is the same Duke team that was questionably talented last year, but still managed to beat the Wildcats in the National Finals after dropping down a host of good teams in their March Madness run. This means the Devils know what it takes to win games even when they aren’t playing well, something that could prove invaluable to the team in the Tourney.

Aside from that, the Devils are ranked sixth-best in the nation with 84.9 PPG scoring (87.5 at home, 78.5 on the road), along with a stellar 47.7 field goal percentage. Put into perspective, that FG% i s better than that of Citadel (43.5), who own the best offense in the country at 89.4 PPG, and even better than that of the nation’s top team, Oklahoma (47.6 FG%, 85.4 PPG). This underlines Duke’s their potential to figure out things once in the NCAA Tournament, especially if the team recovers some of its injured starters like Amile Jefferson.

All that is, however, a lot of IFs, and going by the way the Blue Devils are taking a dangerous nosedive this early in the season while continually seeing a pile of injuries in the squad and worrying off-filed issues (including Coach K’s illness), it doesn’t look like they’ll be running things in the NCAA Tournament like they did last year.