Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas 7-1 Co-Favorites To Win NCAA Championship…Arizona, FSU Sleepers To Win It All

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Has Something Gone Astray In Popular KenPom College Ratings Used By Many Bettors? I Say—Beware!

By Kelso Sturgeon

As much as college basketball bettors like to moan and groan about the rather dramatic ups and downs of this season, they just need to accept the fact this is all old hat. Every season is just like all others—stunning upset winners, the fall of the mighty and unexpected blowouts by the least against the best.

Who could have predicted the stunning decline of North Carolina (10-16), a Top Ten team in the pre-season rankings, or that San Diego State would enter this weekend 26-0, or that the then #1-ranked Duke Blue Devils would lose at home to Stephen F. Austin, 85-83, in overtime as a 28.5 point favorite, after having not lost to a non-conference team at home in 20 years. Two weeks before that stunner, which snapped a 150-game win streak at Cameron, then #1 Kentucky lost tat home to outlier Evansville (now 9-19 overall and 0-15 in Missouri Valley Conference play , 67-63.

The unexpected, unpredictable and unexplained happen several times each week. There is logical reason for it. It is just college basketball.

The Leading Contenders At Las Vegas Books

Team                              Record                  NCAA Odds

Baylor Bears                       24-1                       7-1
Gonzaga Bulldogs              27-1                       7-1
Kansas Jayhawks               23-3                       7-1
Duke Blue Devils                22-4                       8-1
Dayton Flyers                    24-2                       12-1
Maryland Terrapins           22-4                       14-1
Seton Hall Pirates             19-7                       16-1
Auburn Tigers                   22-4                       20-1
Louisville Cardinals           22-5                       20-1
Michigan St. Spartans      18-9                       20-1
San Diego State Aztecs   26-0                       20-1
Kentucky Wildcats            21-5                       25-1
Arizona Wildcats               19-7                       30-1
Oregon Ducks                   20-7                       30-1
Penn St. Nittany Lions       20-6                       30-1
Creighton Blue Jays         21-6                       40-1
Florida State                     22-4                       40-1
Ohio State Buckeyes       17-9                       40-1
Texas Tech Red Raiders 17-9                       40-1
Villanova Wildcats            20-6                       40-1
Michigan Wolverines       17-9                       50-1

Baylor, Kansas The Best, Arizona The Sleeper

All handicappers have individual opinions on which college teams are the best. To me #1 Baylor and #3 Kansas are the two best teams in the country while the Arizona Wildcats and the Florida State Seminoles are the sleepers to win it all. My figures say one can forget about Seton Hall, Auburn, Michigan State, Ohio State, Texas Tech, Villanova and Michigan even making the Final Four, let alone winning the national championship. All have exploitable weaknesses and can be had.

While it is not by habit to knock any of my competitors, the national polls or the so-called rating services, I feel one must put a “red alert” on the famous Pomeroy (KenPom) ratings used by many. Any handicapper or rating service that ranks 11 Big Ten members in the top 41—and 10 in in the top 31—among the 350 college teams has missed something or is having computer problems.

Here is a rundown of the KenPom ratings of Big Ten teams.

Team                                  Rating                   Record

Michigan State                    #9                           18-9
Ohio State                          #12                         17-9
Michigan                             #13                         17-9
Penn State                         #16                         20-6
Iowa                                    #22                         19-8
Purdue                               #24                         14-13
Illinois                                 #29                         17-9
Wisconsin                          #30                         16-10
Rutgers                              #31                         18-9
Minnesota                          #33                         12-13
Indiana                               #41                         17-9

I am still trying to figure out how the ratings missed Nebraska (7-19) and Northwestern (6-19)? A handful of these teams deserve their high ranking but most do not. The saddest part of all this is the fact the NCAA selection committee uses these ratings as part of the process in selecting the 68 teams that qualify for the Big Dance.

You can take it to the bank Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Minnesota are at best one-and-out in the NCAA Tournament. Yet the long-standing prejudice in favor of the Big Ten will again prevail, with probably everyone but Minnesota advancing to the post-season.

For bettors, it is a matter of beware. Most of these teams are far from belonging among college basketball’s best and elite. So much for the rant, but the truth Is the truth.

#1 Baylor Bears (24-1) Hosts #3 Kansas Jayhawks (23-3) In Big 12 Showdown Game Of The Year

There are dozens of outstanding college basketball games on the Saturday schedule and the truly big one finds the #3-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (23-3) at the #1-ranked Baylor Bears (24-1) who are going for their 24th consecutive win. It is of note Baylor beat Kansas in Lawrence, 67-55, on January 10, for its first win there in 17 years. The teams have met 38 times and Kansas leads the series, 32-6.

On the line in Waco for this nationally televised (ESPN) is the championship of the Big 12 and number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The contest tips at 12:00 Noon EST.

Another game of interest finds San Diego State, the only unbeaten team in the country, going for its 27th straight win as its hosts a UNLV (14-14) team it edged by four points, 71-67, as a 7-point favorite four weeks ago, in Las Vegas. The Aztecs are 16-1 in their last 17 games against UNLV.

Also of note…

  • Auburn is in major bounce-back form off a 65-55 loss at Georgia in an SEC contest in which it hit but 31.3% from the floor, including 15.4% from the 3-point line. The Tigers host Tennessee.
  • Duke is another team that is riding the bounce today off a stunning 22-point, 88-66, loss at N.C. State. Duke hosts Virginia Tech.
  • Gonzaga is marching into the Lions den in Provo to meet a BYU team it crushed earlier in the season, 92-69, in a game in which it hit 56% from the floor. The host Cougars are 13-1 at home and their only loss came at the hands of unbeaten San Diego State, 76-71.

The Weekend Betting Menu

Home Teams In CAPS


  • Three Best Bets Club Underdogs Set To Win…Just $10
  • Another 50-Unit Blowout College Winner…Just $25
    4-1-1 With Last Six 50-Unit Plays

2/20…50 Units…Wichita State (-10) 65, South Florida 55 (Push)
2/19…50 Units…Loyola Chicago (-11) 84, Illinois State 69 (Won)
2/18…50 Units…Tennessee (-12.5) 65, Vanderbilt 61 (Lost)
2/16…50 Units…Wichita State (-15.5) 82, Tulane 57 (Won)
2/15…50 Units…Miami (-4) 71, Wake Forest 54 (Won)
2/12…50 Units…Oklahoma (-10) 90, Iowa State 61 (Won)

  • 40-Unit 2-Team NBA Parlay…Just $15–

This Week’s Newsletter Best Bets
Home Teams In CAPS – All Games 5-Unit Beets

Saturday’s College  Best Bets

KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (9-17) by 9-10 over Texas Longhorns (15-11)
Kansas State is in the midst of a major rebuilding year but is still much better than its record. It plays every opponent tough at home in Manhattan and is primed to avenge an earlier 64-50 loss to Texas in Austin. The Wildcats are 8-5 at home and signaled what they are on their way to doing three games ago when in Manhattan they took #1-ranked Baylor to the money before losing, 73-67. Texas is 5-6 away from home.

DAYTON FLYERS (24-2) by 17-18 over Duquesne Dukes (18-7)
I have not been a Dayton fan in recent years because of its pattern of inconsistent play. That said, this talented and experienced Flyer team has broken that mold and certainly is the real deal. The only two games it lost this season came on a neutral floor against nationally ranked Kansas 90-84, and on a neutral floor against nationally ranked Colorado, 78-76. This team is for year and should just mop the floor with a good but over-rated Duquesne team.

Clemson Tigers (13-12) by 7-8 over BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (13-14)
Clemson has been a bit up and down this season but comes into this contest off two powerful back-to-back wins. In their last game, the Tigers played outstanding defense and beat nationally ranked Louisville, 77-62, in Raleigh as they held the Cardinals to 34.8% from the floor. In the game before that, Clemson flashed that same form on the road, beating Pittsburgh, 72-52, limiting the Panthers to hitting just 31.2% from the floor. The Tigers are at their best now and should manhandle a weak BC team.

PROVIDENCE FRIARS (15-12) by 8-9 over Marquette Golden Eagles (17-8)
Providence appears to be one of those teams that plays to the level of its opponents—good against the good teams and so-so against all the rest. The Friars have lost to the likes of Long Beach state, Penn and Northwestern while knocking off four Top 25 teams, Creighton, Seton Hall and then-ranked Marquette. The come into this game off back-to-back wins—at Georgetown, 73-63, and at home against Seton Hall. Providence won at Marquette by a single point earlier in the season, 81-80, and seems primed to go all-in today.

Saturday NBA Best Bet

Dallas Mavericks by 11-12 over ATLANTA HAWKS


Sunday’s Best Bets

FURMAN PALADINS BY 11-12 OVER Wofford Terriers
NORTHERN IOWA PANTHERS by 10-11 over Southern Illinois Salukis

CHICAGO BULLS by 6-7 over Washington Wizards

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