College Basketball’s high-scoring Bulldogs can cover

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Alabama A&M has been manna to wise investors.

Its first game sailed over the lined total, but the Bulldogs didn’t cover. They squeaked out a cover as a big underdog in their second, but the game finished Under. Then it all clicked in Parlay Paradise.

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In six of its next eight, all as an underdog, A&M both covered and its games finished Over, triple-cherries for those who partake in the time-honored tradition of trying to turn a little into a lot. A&M gets klieg lights this week for its membership in an exclusive fraternity, with Oregon and Georgia State, of teams in the top 20 of both covering the spread and its games finishing Over.

A punter wise to the Bulldogs this season, by laying one unit on them to cover and another on the Over, and a unit on that particular parlay — A&M to the Over — hitting, would have enjoyed an ROI of 72.5 percent in its first 10 chalked games. A C-note as a unit? Profit comes in at $2,320.

Happy New Year, indeed.

Grambling State prepped for playing host to the Bulldogs on Saturday with games at Marquette (a 93-72 defeat) and at Dayton (an 81-53 loss), two tough tilts, to be sure.

The Tigers need to be careful, though, because in A&M’s five outright victories last season one came against Grambling State, in overtime. Dylan Howard wore an interim coaching tag all of 2018-19, and the A&M hierarchy saw enough in a 5-27 campaign to make him the permanent boss.

Perhaps key inhabitants of that Ivory Tower in Huntsville, Ala., enjoy an occasional wager? Thirty-one of those games were lined last season, and the Bulldogs were 18-13 against the number (58.06 percent). Over the past two seasons, taking A&M just to cover would have gone 27-15, a 64.3 percent success rate; at $100 a pop, that’s a net gain of $1,050.

These Dogs are Profiteers.

The 6-foot-7 Howard played for Gene Bartow at Alabama-Birmingham, playing in two NCAA Tournaments. Howard had four successful seasons coaching Division-III Hardin-Simmons, in Abilene, Texas, where he graduated 100 percent of his players. Bespectacled and bald, Howard is the rat’s kind of general. He recently re-Tweeted a note by Butler coach LaVall Jordan about players keeping their mouths shut, taking correction without talking back or spewing excuses.

He despises peacocks. Howard favored a stat line, from 26 years ago, in which Dennis Rodman recorded 0 points and 28 rebounds. Howard wrote, “Know your role.”

A&M knows its role, as a money-making machine. In particular, against Grambling, the Bulldogs must improve their first 20 minutes, since they are in the bottom 10 in the nation with a first-half scoring margin of -12.1. So far, though, they have recovered well in the second half.

Alabama A&M has shown grit under Howard and a pattern of success that the Rat recognizes and salutes. Veteran Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White — who offers additional projected numbers below — pegs Grambling as an 8.5-point favorite Saturday, with a Total of 147.5. The trends more than lean toward a rare double rodent dip. ALABAMA A&M and OVER

Thursday

UCLA at Washington -11: The Bruins had been sharpening their offensive efficiency, among the nation’s top 10, and then … reality-check defeats to Notre Dame and North Carolina, and the big uppercut—a 3-point defeat Saturday before a home crowd—by Cal State Fullerton.

Isaiah Stewart, a 6-9, 250-pound rookie out of Rochester, N.Y., averages 19.2 points and 8.9 boards for UW. The NBA knows about him. A four-point defeat to Houston was the perfect hiccup to awaken the Huskies for this league opener. WASHINGTON

Liberty -15.5 at Florida Gulf Coast: Liberty is one of only seven programs among the top-10-percentile in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Its assists-turnovers ratio, behind senior floor general Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, is among the top 10 percent, too, and the Flames boast of six players who average more than 9 points a game. Gulf Coast is not in Liberty’s class. LIBERTY

Friday

Wisconsin at Ohio State -13.5: The Buckeyes play their first home game in two weeks, and their next two are on the road. Junior forward Kyle Young was limited, with appendix issues, in a defeat to West Virginia; surgery had been slated for Monday. His nearly nine-point average will be missed.

Wisky’s top-20 team free-throw percentage, of 78.2, will help here. WISCONSIN

Saturday

Missouri at Kentucky, Total 125.5: The Tigers are stout on defense, as 10 of their 11 games have finished Under, by an average of nearly 8 points. They’re top 10 in defensive efficiency, and top 30 in limiting foes’ effective possessions. UK is averaging a mediocre 71.2 possessions a game, even fewer lately. Mizzou averages even less. A defensive gem. UNDER

Last week: 2-2

Season: 15-18

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About the Author

Rob Miech

Veteran sportswriter Rob Miech covers soccer and does features for Gaming Today. He has written about college hoops for the Las Vegas Sun, CBS SportsLine and the Pasadena Star-News. He is the author of four books, including Sports Betting for Winners.

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