While most fans are debating the line of a potential Alabama/Oregon BCS Championship game, or the worthiness of a potential undefeated Louisville or Ohio State team, handicappers should be observant of the bottom of the heap, as well.
There are a couple winless teams against the spread, and a few others with only one victory for the bettors. (For this article I am only using games on the regular board. No add-ons or write-ins.)
If you are a backer of the California Golden Bears, you are probably well aware of their 0-5 record ATS. Cal has yet to cover, but has played a tough schedule, including games against Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon and UCLA. At SHARPSsports.com we have a power rating on Cal of 66.9, which would be okay in the MAC, but not so good in the PAC-12. (For comparison, Oregon is 107.)
Joining Cal in the winless ranks is Arkansas State with pushes against Troy and Missouri, so there are certainly a few winning tickets that have been cashed by those sharp enough to get the best of the price. Arkansas State has 3 ATS losses, but aren’t horrible. They have a 60.2 power rating, which is competitive in the Sun Belt Conference.
New Mexico State is winless straight up but has managed to cover once to go with 5 ATS losses, getting +16 in a 10-point loss to San Diego State. Their last effort was against their rival New Mexico. While you might think getting +11.5 in a rivalry game could be a good bet, the Aggies lost by 49. New Mexico State has sunk to a 46 power rating.
UTEP has one cover to its credit, versus New Mexico State, but has another game where a shopper might have gotten a push. Nonetheless, they are one awful team, with 5 ATS losses to their discredit. UTEP has a 55 power rating.
Tulsa is another bankroll burner, with only a cover over UTEP to their credit against 5 ATS losses. A lot of people, including yours truly, expected Tulsa to be a pretty good team this year. We now have Tulsa rated 62.2, which I think is low enough.
We’re getting a little closer to the bottom of the barrel, now. Miami-Ohio’s dismal record got their coach fired last week. Their only cover of the year was a 14-0 loss to in-state rival Cincinnati while getting +24. I guess being shutout and covering wasn’t enough to save Don Treadwell’s job. Miami-O has five ATS losses to go with their one ugly cover. They have a power rating of 44, only slightly higher than lowest rated Idaho (42.8), who has actually covered twice.
There are eight teams with 1-4 ATS records wasting money like an Enron executive with an expense account: Cincinnati, Georgia (along with one push), Nevada, North Carolina, Notre Dame (one push), Southern Miss, Troy (one push) and UAB.
Fresno State is undefeated at 4-0 straight up, but only 1-3 ATS. Four others (Colorado, UConn, Oklahoma State and SMU) have hurt bettors with 1-3 ATS records.
Just to keep things in perspective, Georgia State, who is SHARPS’ 5th lowest rated team at 45.5, has covered all three times they have been matched against board teams.
So, as always, do your due diligence. You need two teams to create a matchup. One will win, one will lose. If you can get the right price on those money-burning teams once their perceived value drops enough, some might turn into cash cows.
Just be careful.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.com. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].