NCAA basketball no Fab Melo for Syracuse means no top rating

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Syracuse fell from the top spot in the rankings after losing their first game of the season to Notre Dame last Saturday dropping them down to No. 3.

This paved the way for Kentucky to be our new No 1. However Syracuse still holds the top slot in the RPI rankings just above Duke. The 67-58 loss at Notre Dame can be blamed in part because of 7-footer Fab Melo being suspended due to academic reasons.

Still, the fact remains that Syracuse’s shooting performance (34%) was their worst since shooting 31.7% in a 63-49 loss to then No. 1 Connecticut in 2009. On the season, Syracuse has averaged 48%. Melo’s suspension will have a severe impact on the Orange defense where he leads the team in blocked shots (3.0) and rebounds (5.7).

“Fab is the key to our defense. He’s an anchor. It wasn’t that, though. Our offense wasn’t going (Saturday),” senior guard Scoop Jardine said. “Fab only averaged six points for us. That’s not too much points. You know, we missed him truly but we needed to make more shots regardless.”

Murray State remains the only undefeated team in the nation (20-0) and has a great shot of running the table until the NCAA Tournament starts. They moved up one spot to No. 11 in the national poll, but are still No. 33 in the RPI rankings.

The Racers come into this week having not covered a spread in their last four games thanks to extremely inflated prices. They started the year 8-2 ATS, but have since gone 1-5 against the number.

“Someone texted me that the media attention is going to get even crazier,” Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. “That’s good, but it’s not our focus. Our focus is winning a conference championship and 20-0 is great, but 8-0 (in OVC) is even better than that.”

Our new No. 1 team in the country, Kentucky, has beaten everyone but Indiana in its path thus far, but has been awful against-the-spread in Las Vegas. Since covering their first three games on the season, the Wildcats have gone 2-14 ATS. Last week they covered against Arkansas (-16), but only won by 6 in Lexington against Alabama (-11).

Part of the reason they don’t cover is that their overall rating makes their number way too high and almost unachievable. Sixteen of their last 19 spreads have been double digits and 11 of those have been -17 or more.

However, when the spread is below double digits, Kentucky is 2-1 ATS with covers against Kansas (-6½) and North Carolina (-6½) and a loss at Indiana (-5½).

Don’t expect to see many single digit spreads the rest of the way. Their toughest games come on the road in the last four weeks of the season of SEC play, a conference ranked No. 4 in the RPI’s just above the Mountain West.

Despite having North Carolina and Duke in the ACC, the conference took a slide over the week in the RPI rankings dropping from fifth to No. 6 (.5271). The Big Ten (.5941) tops the rankings followed by the Big East (.5781), Big-12 (.5771), SEC (.5698), MWC (.5662), ACC, Atlantic-10 (.5491), MVC (.5449) and then the lowly Pac-12 (.5322) at No. 9.

The Pac-12 doesn’t have a team ranked in the top-25 and their top rated RPI team is California (16-5) at No. 37. The conference is 0-12 against ranked teams this season. No one seems to want to take control.

Oregon (15-5) is currently waving its hand the highest right now as a contender with a four game winning streak that includes knocking off both Arizona schools on the road. Outside of the Ducks, no team has a streak going of more than two wins with pitiful USC dropping eight games in a row.

Middle Tennessee State (19-2) isn’t getting much love from the national media as far as ranking go (they received 9 votes this week), but if the poll was up to Las Vegas bettors, they’d be in the top-5.

MTSU has gone 15-4 ATS this season with an impressive 9-1 spread mark on the road. The spread is starting to catch up with them as they haven’t covered their last three games when favored by 14-points or more, but despite the inflation, they are on a streak of covering six of their last seven.

 

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