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CBB conference trends: Offensive characteristics

January 25, 2022 07:44 PM
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Our database guys at VSiN are developing an engine for building out the top trends in college basketball daily. In the meantime, I thought I’d offer up some of the best and worst angles from my own database so readers can get a feel for what’s to come. You’ll notice the concepts and terms are quite similar to those we already run for the NFL and college football.

These particular trends go back to the start of the 2016-17 season and only include records from conference games against opponents that meet certain offensive criteria. In general, the criteria I focused on includes the top 25% or bottom 25% nationally in any given category. For instance, over the last five-plus seasons, teams in the bottom 25% of scoring have averaged 68.5 points or fewer per game. Teams in the top 25% have averaged at least 77 points per game. 

With each trend, I’ve provided the average score and line in games that fit the angle. This gives us a good idea of how much teams are outplaying or underperforming Vegas expectations, a clear indicator of an effective trend. I’ve also provided an explanation of why the angle is one to watch plus any upcoming games in which it might apply. All stats are as of Monday.

This week, I have 20 angles, 10 positive and 10 negative, all considering opponents’ offensive characteristics. Next week, I’ll do the same with opponents’ defensive characteristics.

Conference matchup angles: 10 positive trends over the last 5+ seasons

BELLARMINE is 10-0 SU and 9-1 ATS vs. conference opponents turning the ball over 14 times or more per game

Average score: Bellarmine 76.1, Opponent 63

Average line: -5

Steve's analysis: Bellarmine is relatively new to Division 1 but has continued its D-II ways of pressuring opponents and feasting on those that don’t take care of the ball. Saturday’s opponent, Florida Gulf Coast, turns the ball over 14.8 times per game. 

FURMAN is 10-0 SU and 9-0-1 ATS vs. conference opponents scoring 68.5 points or fewer per game

Average score: Furman 79.7, Opponent 59.1

Average line: -11.3

Steve's analysis: This is an intriguing trend with Furman outscoring these lesser-scoring opponents by more than 20 PPG and beating the line by more than 9 PPG. Keep an eye on Feb. 5 vs. UNC Greensboro, a team that scores just 62.2 PPG.

ILLINOIS is 35-22 SU and 39-18 ATS vs. conference opponents turning the ball over 12 times or fewer per game

Average score: Illinois 72.6, Opponent 68.1

Average line: + 0.3

Steve's analysis: The Illini are an underdog in these games, on average, but are still outscoring opponents by 4.5 PPG. When you think of Big Ten teams that don’t turn the ball over, Wisconsin is the first that comes to mind, and the Badgers are second in the country in this statistic this season. These two teams meet Feb. 2 at Illinois.

LOYOLA (ILL.) is 10-4 SU and 11-2-1 ATS vs. conference opponents averaging at least 38 rebounds

Average score: Loyola 71.9, Opponent 61

Average line: -3.4

Steve's analysis: The Ramblers have been one of the most disciplined and hard-working teams in the country over the last few years. They match up well against good rebounding teams, as they typically rebound at a high level themselves. Bradley is one of the better rebounding teams in the MVC, and Loyola visits the Braves on Feb. 9.

LSU is 10-6 SU and 12-3-1 ATS vs. conference opponents with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.3 or better

Average score: LSU 76.7, Opponent 74.4

Average line: + 3.9

Steve's analysis: With the athletes LSU typically possesses, the Tigers’ high-intensity, high-pressure defense can be very effective, even against SEC opponents known as good ball-handling teams. Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee are the current SEC teams with a 1.3 or better assist-to-turnover ratio. Of those three, LSU faces only Kentucky the rest of the regular season, Feb. 23 in Lexington.

MISSOURI STATE is 9-2 SU and 10-1 ATS vs. conference opponents shooting 32.5% or worse from 3-point range 

Average score: Missouri State 74.4, Opponent 65.5

Average line: -3.8

Steve’s analysis: The worst long-range shooting team in the Missouri Valley is Evansville at 31%. Theoretically, this makes the Purple Aces a good matchup for Missouri State on Saturday.

MURRAY STATE is 39-5 SU and 30-13-1 ATS vs. conference opponents with an assist-to-turnover ratio below 1.0

Average score: Murray State 79.7, Opponent 64

Average line: -11.7

Steve’s analysis: Guessing former Racers star Ja Morant had his hands in a lot of these games. Nevertheless, Eastern Illinois is last in the OVC in this category, and Murray State clobbered EIU by 26 and 40 points in separate games last week. UT Martin could meet a similar fate on Feb. 19.

PENN STATE is 26-23 SU and 33-16 ATS vs. conference opponents turning the ball over 12 times or fewer per game

Average score: Penn State 71, Opponent 70.4

Average line: + 1.8

Steve's analysis: The sheer volume of games fitting this trend in five-plus seasons gives an indication of the type of teams that play in the Big Ten. And Penn State has had success against teams that take care of the ball. Besides Wisconsin, look ahead to matchups against Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota.

SAINT LOUIS is 14-2 SU and 12-3-1 ATS vs. conference opponents winning no more than 40% of their games

Average score: Saint Louis 71.2, Opponent 61.5

Average line: -6.5

Steve's analysis: Saint Louis has run roughshod over its weakest opponents in the Atlantic 10, winning by nearly double-digit margins with an average line of Billikens -6.5. The three A-10 teams that fit this trend are George Washington, Duquesne and La Salle.

TOLEDO is 9-1 SU and ATS vs. conference opponents averaging 34 rebounds or fewer

Average score: Toledo 87.3, Opponent 65.8

Average line: -9.2

Steve's analysis: Teams that average 34 rebounds or fewer represent the bottom 25% of Division 1 teams. Toledo is outscoring these MAC opponents by 21.5 PPG and averaging a whopping 87.3 PPG. Probably a lot of offensive putbacks going into that total. The worst rebounding teams in the MAC are Central Michigan and Northern Illinois.

Conference matchup angles: 10 negative trends over the last 5+ seasons

ARKANSAS is 3-14 SU and ATS vs. conference opponents turning the ball over 12 or fewer times per game

Average score: Opponent 80.4, Arkansas 71.1

Average line: + 2.9

Steve’s analysis: Arkansas has not fared well against this bunch and could have a rough time with Auburn on Feb. 8.

BRADLEY is 10-32 SU and 11-28-3 ATS vs. conference opponents shooting 46% or better from the field

Average score: Opponent 68.9, Bradley 60.8

Average line: + 4.6

Steve’s analysis: Field-goal shooting of 46% or better marks the top 25% of the country over the last five-plus seasons, and these teams have had their way with Bradley. In the Missouri Valley, Loyola, Missouri State and Illinois State qualify in this statistic.

CAL POLY is 4-31 SU and 8-24-3 ATS vs. conference opponents turning the ball over 14 times or more per game

Average score: Opponent 75.2, Cal Poly 65.9

Average line: + 5.6

Steve’s analysis: There were a group of prolific fade trends to consider for Cal Poly. The Mustangs haven’t had a good run in Big West play lately, which leads to a lot of actionable angles. This particular trend shows the Mustangs fare horribly against even the worst ball-handling teams in the league. A 4-31 outright record speaks for itself.

DEPAUL is 1-9 SU and 1-9 ATS vs. conference opponents shooting 42.5% or worse from the field

Average score: Opponent 73.1, DePaul 63.8

Average line: + 2.9

Steve’s analysis: The logic behind this trend and the one for Cal Poly is similar. When teams are consistently bad in any given conference, they often fail even against their worst opponents. Keep an eye on DePaul’s February matchups with Georgetown and Butler.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC is 0-11 SU and 1-10 ATS vs. conference opponents with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.3 or better

Average score: Opponent 82.1, Florida Atlantic 64.6

Average line: + 8.3

Steve’s analysis: This trend has an ugly score differential, with FAU being beaten by an average of 17.5 PPG. The Owls are being beaten on the Vegas number by more than 9 PPG, so they are clearly underperforming against good ball-handling teams. No teams in Conference USA meet the lofty criteria right now, but Louisiana Tech is C-USA’s best in the category. Look for that matchup on Feb. 3.

GEORGE WASHINGTON is 9-14 SU and 5-17-1 ATS vs. conference opponents scoring 68.5 points per game or fewer

Average score: Opponent 66.3, George Washington 61.3

Average line: + 0.5

Steve's analysis: Against teams that don’t score much, George Washington scores even less. You aren’t going to win a whole lot scoring 61.3 points per game. With a 6-11 record, the Colonials will be hard-pressed to beat teams such as VCU.

MCNEESE STATE is 0-12 SU and 1-11 ATS vs. conference opponents averaging at least 38 rebounds

Average score: Opponent 83.2, McNeese State 71.3

Average line: + 3.5

Steve's analysis: McNeese State has lost 12 straight against top rebounding opponents. McNeese State actually leads the Southland Conference in rebounding, with Nicholls State next. Those teams square off Thursday night.

MORGAN STATE is 8-15 SU and 5-18 ATS vs. conference opponents scoring 68.5 points per game or fewer

Average score: Opponent 70.4, Morgan State 69.8

Average line: -3.7

Steve's analysis: Morgan State is on a slide against lower-scoring opponents in the MEAC, despite playing as a 3.7-point favorite on average. Consider this trend if you’re thinking of betting Saturday’s game versus brutal Delaware State, the conference’s lowest-scoring team by far.

SAN JOSE STATE is 1-21 SU and 3-18-1 ATS vs. conference opponents shooting 32.5% or worse from 3-point range

Average score: Opponent 81.6, San Jose State 64.7

Average line: + 10.4

Steve's analysis: San Jose State’s 1-21 outright record is dreadful, but 3-18 ATS might be even worse, so the Spartans should not be given consideration against San Diego State or Fresno State, the two Mountain West teams that meet this poor long-range shooting criteria.

UCLA is 11-6 SU and 2-13-2 ATS vs. conference opponents shooting 32.5% or worse from 3-point range

Average score: UCLA 75.4, Opponent 73.5

Average line: -7.2

Steve's analysis: The Bruins haven’t been able to separate themselves against poor 3-point shooting teams. They have won 11 of 17 but are just 2-13-2 ATS, coming up short of Vegas expectations by 5.1 PPG. The worst Pac-12 teams for 3-point percentage are Oregon State, Washington and Arizona State. Bet accordingly.

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