NCAA: UNLV, others need respect

Jan 6, 2009 7:17 PM
by Mark Mayer |

Christmas is over, but bettors shopping for late holiday buys in college hoops would be wise to start right here at UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels have not cracked the Top 25, but their 13-2 record hasn’t gone unnoticed in gambling circles. Coach Lon Kruger’s squad has won eight straight, including victories over national powers Arizona and Louisville. (pictured: Thomas-And-Mack stadium)

While the Rebels’ mark is best among Mountain West Conference teams in terms of overall record, there are others bubbling under the radar in the league. One is San Diego State with a 11-3 overall record and 7-4 against the spread. The Aztecs have benefitted from a rather soft schedule, but have covered three in a row including a 17-point MWC victory over Air Force.

Another Mountain West team worth watching is Wyoming, off to an 11-4 start. However, the Cowboys may be a fraud and team to bet against. Among their losses were blowouts of 24 points to against Utah (91-67) and a whopping 51 to UCLA. Staying out west, some surprises have been Utah State (12-1 overall, 5-3 ATS), Portland State (12-4, 6-6) and Washington State (12-1, 5-3). Utah State owns a win over Utah, while Portland State beat Gonzaga when the Bulldogs were nationally ranked.

Heading east, a team to watch is College of Charleston. The Cougars are 10-2 overall and have covered nine straight games on the board. Charleston will be facing a huge test Wednesday at Chapel Hill against former No. 1 ranked North Carolina. The Tar Heels are coming off a stunning loss to Boston College.

In the Big East, a team you may want to back with points is St. John’s. The Red Storm at 10-4 is off to their best start in years and riding high off an upset victory over Notre Dame. Other teams that caught our eye include:

• Arkansas (11-1, 4-2 ATS)

• Dayton (13-1, 5-5 ATS)

• Florida State (13-2, 6-3 ATS)

• VMI (11-2, including a win at Kentucky)

Of course making money doesn’t always involve hot teams. Betting against bad schools works just as well. Some of the very worst are:

• Loyola Marymount (1-15)

• North Carolina Central (0-16)

• Sacramento State (1-14)

• Winthrop (2-10)