NCAA basketball: George Mason and Duquesne are good

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While most people around the country may not realize how good George Mason and Duquesne are, the betting world can quickly attest for their strength against the almighty spread.

The nation has kind of been fixated on No. 3 Texas because they have been blowing teams out regularly in their last 13 games going 10-2-1 ATS, but let’s give a little love to George Mason and Duquesne who are doing almost the exact same thing on a smaller scale.

In Saturday’s 17-point win over Old Dominion as a 5-point favorite, George Mason got its 10th straight cover and ninth straight win. Just like Texas, the Patriots have been destroying their opponents and vaulted to the top of the Colonial Athletic Conference. Yet the ratings can’t catch up with them.

This week the Patriots play a very weak Wilmington team before an interesting home matchup against James Madison, a team they beat several weeks ago on the road. The big game in the conference will take place Feb. 15 when they travel to Virginia Commonwealth.

All Duquesne has done this year is compile a 12-3 ATS record while going straight to the top of the Atlantic-10 as co-leaders. Before losing to St. Bonaventure on Saturday, the Dukes had won and covered eight games in a row with high hopes of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1977.

The city of Pittsburgh may be sulking a bit with the Steelers loss, but the basketball team rising to their best play since the Norm Nixon era has the city kind of excited about their poor step-sisters of the Pitt Panthers basketball program like rarely seen.

Despite their impressive 16-6 record, the Dukes likely will have to win their conference tournament as they are currently No. 78 in the RPI rankings.

This Sunday, Duquesne has perhaps its biggest home game since 1977 when facing Xavier – tied atop the A-10 at 8-1. A win against a quality opponent like the Musketeers (No. 25 RPI) would go a long way in getting them a possible at-large bid. Hopefully, my backing of a Pittsburgh team this Sunday will have better results than I did with the city on Super Sunday.

A team that has no shot of going anywhere, but are consistently making money for bettors is Sacramento State. They have only won six games, but are playing inspired ball of late. Sac State has won three of their last four, covering the spread in five straight.

Over their last 12 games the Hornets have gone 10-2 ATS, but still only have those recent three wins to show for it. Up next is a trip up north to Big Sky leader Montana, a team they lost to by 16 last month as a 12-point underdog. Taking the double-digit points might be a good idea based on their recent turnaround.

Just a few weeks ago, despite the poor play, I had Michigan State as a team that would step it up and produce big wins in conference play – at least enough to make them a No. 8 or 9 seed in the Tournament.

But their inconsistent play over the last four weeks says the Spartans are bound for the NIT. Losing to Iowa, Michigan and Penn State should not happen to a team coached as well as they are with all the talent they possess.

As for Sparty bettors, they haven’t covered a spread in their last 9. Their RPI rating has dropped to No. 50 and need a miracle fast. Beating Penn State this week and then upsetting Ohio State next week are absolute musts if they intend to make the NCAA’s.

I hate to put UNLV in any negative light because the Rebels hustle harder than most teams. However, the results from the sports book show that they haven’t covered the spread in over two weeks.

The 0-5 ATS streak has a great possibility of being snapped this week at TCU, the second worst team in the Mountain West.

Washington started last week as the No. 20 team in the country but then got beat up on a road trip south to face the Oregon squads, neither of whom had a winning record.

 Last Thursday night the Huskies fell straight up at Oregon State as a 13-point favorite. They followed that up two days later with a loss at Eugene as 8-point favorites.

 Washington has now gone four straight games without covering. The Huskies will try and get things back together Thursday with a road game at Cal who had won four in a row, including both Oregon teams, before losing to Arizona.

The Ducks, meanwhile, have covered five straight games – winning four straight up – and have done so as an underdog in each. Thursday night they’ll play at UCLA once again as underdog. However, the spread will be quite light compared to two weeks ago due to their terrific play of late.

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