College basketball: Must-see trends for homestretch

February 22, 2022 06:45 PM

I have always felt that the strongest college basketball teams with the best and most consistent coaching staffs are best prepared to make runs deep in the season. I’ve also always believed there is an enhanced home-court advantage at this time of year. In many ways, college basketball is like the NFL in that regard, where the best teams tend to rise up in December.

With so many regular-season league titles still to be determined, and the seeding for the postseason tournaments not sorted out yet, there is a ton left to play for in the final two weeks of the regular season for the power conference teams. And as usual, with so much on the line, the strategy for handicapping the games should change a bit. It is often the case that oddsmakers will alter their lines slightly to reflect the “must-win” mentality of teams in key spots. Alternatively, they may shade teams that are playing out the string, already looking forward to the offseason.

The point spread is the great equalizer for bookmakers, and with so much known about all the teams by now, those bettors looking to cash tickets in the final two weeks should be aware of some “extra” trends and systems that have produced strong results in recent years. Part of that should include late-season performance, especially in cases where coaching situations have remained consistent.

I will break down the results of the finals two weeks of the regular season for the power conferences, looking for spots in which we may be able to profit in 2022. I did this last year and revealed the four teams across the country that had gone 70% or better in the final two weeks of the previous five regular seasons. Those teams were Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Oregon and Providence. How did those teams fare after the findings were revealed? In a word, phenomenal. They combined to go 15-4 SU and 14-5 ATS, good once again for 73.6%. At the same time, on the other end, the “bottom teams” continued to flounder. Hopefully the same continues in 2022, and without knowing at this point, I would imagine the list of teams remains fairly consistent on both ends.

There are some very definitive angles you’re going to be inclined to put to use over the next couple of weeks, primarily as they pertain to home-court advantage, pace of play and recent results between teams in a matchup. There are also certain teams that have thrived and others that have tanked at this time of the year.

For the record, the results shown cover games dating to 2017, or the last five seasons. The time period of the final two weeks of this year’s regular season would include games between Feb. 21, and March 6, so Point Spread Weekly readers will again have 12 full days to take advantage of the findings. In fact, with a few more rescheduled games to be played, there should be more opportunities than usual. I’ve also included a handy chart detailing the records of all the power conference teams in a variety of last-two-weeks scenarios.

Before going any further, however, it is important that you consider that in the five years of this study, home-court advantage in the final two regular-season weeks has meant a great deal more than at any other point in the season. In fact, home teams in the power conferences are 469-240 SU and 409-278 ATS for 59.5% in the final two weeks of the regular season since 2017. Nothing else considered, this is a huge profit-making strategy.

Top teams

Nine power conference teams have won 70% or more of their games in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years. They have combined to go 106-63 against the spread (62.7%) as well. They are:

— Oregon: 18-2 SU and 15-4-1 ATS

— Virginia: 17-2 SU and  11-8 ATS

— Kansas: 15-3 SU and 9-8-1 ATS

— Purdue: 14-4 SU and 10-7-1 ATS

— Providence: 13-4 SU and 12-5 ATS

— Michigan State: 16-5 SU and 14-7 ATS

— Kentucky: 14-5 SU and 9-10 ATS

— North Carolina: 13-5 SU and 9-7-2 ATS

— Arkansas: 14-6 SU and 13-7 ATS

It’s no coincidence that all but one of these programs (Arkansas) has had the same coach for the duration of the study. In my opinion, this makes backing these teams late in the season a fundamentally sound strategy. Note, however, that North Carolina has a new head coach for 2021-22.

Four teams have gone 70% or better ATS in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years, they are:

— Georgia Tech: 13-6 SU and 16-3 ATS

— Oklahoma State: 14-7 SU and 16-4-1 ATS

— Oregon: 18-2 SU and 15-4-1 ATS

— Providence: 13-4 SU and 12-5 ATS

We already saw Oklahoma State earn another ATS win in the final two weeks of the 2021-22 season, which started Monday night, when OSU fell two points shy of upsetting Baylor. The team to watch in this group could be Georgia Tech, which sits at the bottom of the ACC standings. This will be a real test as to the fortitude of that program.

Bottom teams

Nine power conference teams have won 30% or fewer of their games in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years, and their combined ATS record is an ugly 66-100 (39.8%). Those teams are:

— Pittsburgh: 2-15 SU and 7-10 ATS

— Boston College: 3-15 SU and  5-9-4 ATS

— Iowa State: 5-16 SU and 6-12-3 ATS

— Washington State: 4-12 SU and 8-8 ATS

— Georgetown: 5-15 SU and 8-12 ATS

— DePaul: 5-14 SU and 8-11 ATS

— Nebraska: 6-16 SU and 9-13 ATS

— TCU: 6-15 SU and 9-11-1 ATS

— Alabama: 6-14 SU and ATS 

Interestingly, for 2022, Alabama boasts the best conference mark of any of the teams but is just 7-7. In other words, none of the programs seems set to bust out of its late-season slumps this year.

Three teams have gone worse than 30% ATS in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years, they are: 

— Washington: 6-11 SU and 5-12 ATS

— Maryland: 8-10 SU and 5-12 ATS

— Alabama: 6-14 SU and ATS

Best home teams

Eight teams have gone 90% or better outright at home in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years, and four teams have gone undefeated at home in that span. These teams have combined to go a remarkable 62-15 against the spread (80.5%) as hosts. They are:

— Florida State: 9-0 SU and 5-2-2 ATS

— Kansas: 9-0 SU and 5-4 ATS

— Michigan State: 11-0 SU and 10-1 ATS

— Oregon: 9-0 SU and ATS

— Arkansas: 10-1 SU and 8-3 ATS

— Duke: 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS

— Creighton: 9-1 SU and ATS

— Georgia Tech: 9-1 SU and ATS

Worst home teams

Most of the teams on the bottom list above have enjoyed little to no home-court advantage late in the season. Here are the 11 power conference teams that have won 40% or fewer of their home games outright in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years. Their combined ATS record is a miserable 34-56 (37.8%).

— Georgetown: 3-8 SU and 5-6 ATS

— Pittsburgh: 2-5 SU and 3-4 ATS

— TCU: 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS

— Missouri: 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS

— Alabama: 3-6 SU and 2-7 ATS

— Boston College: 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS

— Oregon State: 3-5 SU and ATS

— Washington: 2-3 SU and 0-5 ATS

— Iowa State: 4-6 SU and 3-5-2 ATS

— Vanderbilt: 4-6 SU and 4-5-1 ATS

— Washington State: 2-3 SU and ATS

Best road teams

Ability to win on the road late in the season is typically a strong trait for the best teams across all sports. The same goes for college basketball. Here are the five power conference teams to win at least 66.7% of their road games in the final two weeks of the regular season since 2017:

— Virginia: 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS

— Oregon: 9-2 SU and 6-4-1 ATS

— Kentucky: 6-3 SU and 4-5 ATS

— Purdue: 6-3 SU and 4-5 ATS

— Kansas: 6-3 SU and 4-4-1 ATS

Worst road teams

Eleven teams have won fewer than 15% of their road games outright in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years. That is an ugly number. The combined ATS record of these teams is arguably worse, 18-72 (20%). Until something changes, keep fading these teams on the road in 2022. And yes, that Duke record is not a mistake as the Blue Devils have been upset six times as road chalk during this span.

— Pittsburgh: 0-10 SU and 4-6 ATS

— Boston College: 0-10 SU and 1-5-4 ATS

— Nebraska: 0-11 SU and 2-9 ATS

— St. John's: 0-9 SU and 1-8 ATS

— Colorado: 0-4 SU and ATS

— Duke: 0-10 SU and 0-9-1 ATS

— Iowa State: 1-10 SU and 3-7-1 ATS

— DePaul: 1-9 SU and 2-8 ATS

— Creighton: 1-7 SU and ATS

— Caifornia: 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS

— Stanford: 1-6 SU and 2-4-1 ATS

Best revenge teams

An angle that produces some definitive results is that of revenge, or how a team responds in the rematch after losing the initial game versus a conference opponent earlier in the season. Here are the teams that performed best in the final two weeks of the regular season since 2017 when playing with revenge motivation:

— Oregon: 7-0 SU and ATS

— Virginia: 3-0 SU and ATS

— North Carolina: 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS

— Ole Miss: 4-1 SU and ATS

— Villanova: 4-1 SU and ATS

— Michigan State: 4-1 SU and ATS

— Butler: 7-3 SU and ATS

— Providence: 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS

Worst revenge teams

Alternatively, revenge hasn’t proven to be a good motivating factor for these teams:

— USC: 0-5 SU and ATS

— Arizona: 0-5 SU and ATS

— Maryland: 0-3 SU and ATS

— Iowa State: 1-9 SU and 2-6-2 ATS

— Washington State: 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS

— Stanford: 1-7 SU and 5-3 ATS

— Georgetown: 2-10 SU and 5-7 ATS

— TCU: 2-10 SU and 5-6-1 ATS

— Pittsburgh: 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS

— Texas A&M: 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS

On totals: Over and Under teams

Six power conference teams have gone Over the total in 65% or more of their games in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years:

— Rutgers: 11-5 Over the total

— TCU: 13-7 Over the total

— Michigan: 13-7 Over the total

— West Virginia: 13-7 Over the total

— Oregon State: 11-6 Over the total

— Boston College: 11-6 Over the total

Twelve teams have gone Under the total in 65% or more of their games in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years:

— Pittsburgh: 13-3 Under the total

— Clemson: 15-4 Under the total

— Alabama: 15-5 Under the total

— Kansas State: 14-5 Under the total

— USC: 13-5 Under the total

— Virginia Tech: 12-5 Under the total

— Notre Dame: 12-5 Under the total

— Tennessee: 13-6 Under the total

— Florida: 13-7 Under the total

— Arizona: 11-6 Under the total

— NC State: 11-6 Under the total

— Seton Hall: 11-6 Under the total

The sheer volume of teams going Under at a high clip, compared with Over should lead you to some answers on which way to side when nothing else is considered.

Home-court advantage by conference

Interestingly, all six of the power conferences show results indicating that home-court advantage is quite important in the latter part of the season. In fact, over the last five years, all six conferences have shown home teams going 54.5% or better ATS. Since the first version of this article three years ago, I have suggested that, in the absence of any other key information, simply betting the home team in these games would have been a sound strategy. Bettors who heeded that advice in 2019, 2020 and 2021 would have gone 281-140 SU and 254-156-11 ATS, good for 61.9% and a profit of $8,240 on $100 wagers! Here are the home records for each conference in order of ATS success:

— Big East home teams: 61-31 SU and 62-30 ATS (67.4%)

— ACC home teams: 98-40 SU and 81-50-7 ATS (61.8%)

— Big Ten home teams: 88-49 SU and 80-53-4 ATS (60.2%)

— Pac-12 home teams: 69-35 SU and  60-41-3 ATS (59.4%)

— Big 12 home teams: 68-33 SU and 53-43-5 ATS (55.2%)

— SEC home teams: 85-52 SU and 73-61 ATS (54.5%)

In addition, there have been some definitive trends formed on the scoring totals for each conference in late-season games. Here are the conferences in order of highest percentage of Over the total games:

— Big Ten: 76-61 Over (55.5%)

— Big 12: 54-45 Over (54.5%)

— Pac-12: 52-51 Over (50.5%)

— Big East: 45-45 Over (50%)

— SEC: 74-63 Under (54%)

— ACC: 78-56 Under (58.2%)

Trends by line range

Some trends have developed in the various conferences specific to line range. Take a look.

— Six points has been a definitive line point in ACC betting. ACC home teams in the -6 to + 6 range are 49-26 SU and 53-20-2 ATS (72.6%), a sign that home-court advantage can be the deciding factor in expectedly tight games. ACC hosts favored by more than 6 points have gone 47-4 SU but 24-22 ATS (52.2%), while those playing as underdogs of more than 6 points are an ugly 2-10 SU and 4-8 ATS (33.3%).

— Big 12 home favorites of more than 11 points in the final two weeks’ games are 15-1 SU but just 6-10 ATS (37.5%). The best line range to play Big 12 home favorites has been in the -4.5 to -10.5 range as they are 26-6 SU and 20-11-1 ATS (64.5%).

— Big East home teams have been good at pretty much every line range, but the two extremes have proven most profitable. Home favorites of more than 7 points in the last two weeks of the regular season have gone 19-5 SU and 17-7 ATS (70.8%) since 2017, while home dogs of 6 points or more have gone 4-5 SU and 8-1 ATS (88.9%).

— Contrary to popular belief, laying a lot of points with hosts in the Big Ten has been a rewarding strategy, as those favored by 7 points or more are on an amazing 31-3 SU and 25-8-1 ATS (75.8%) run since 2017.

— Pac-12 home favorites of 8 points or more have gone 25-4 SU and 16-12-1 ATS (57.1%), but the defense has been most impressive, allowing 63.2 points per game. This has resulted in Unders going 19-10 (65.5%) on totals.

— Small SEC home dogs have really struggled in the final two weeks of the regular season, as those at + 4.5 points or less are just 5-15 SU and ATS (25%) since 2017.

Using this information against the rest of the 2022 regular-season schedules for all the power conference teams should continue to reap big rewards. 

Conference betting systems for the week

The madness of March encompasses an entire month of great basketball action and not just the NCAA Tournament. The opening of the conference tournaments, even the mid-majors, should get most bettors excited. I know many in the industry prefer the volume of games, as well as the familiarity of opponents, that the conference tournament weeks bring. In fact, some professional bettors spend much more time, resources, and bankroll on the conference tournaments than they do on the NCAA Tournament, NIT, CIT, and CBI combined. And for those of you who might behave similarly, I offer the following betting systems, with at least one 60% or better angle from each of the conferences. This will be a three-part series, with the conferences starting tournament games on dates of this week’s issue (Feb, 28-March 1) included in this article, and those playing next week in the next issue of Point Spread Weekly and so forth.

The angles are focused on three key areas, with combinations in some cases. Those areas are teams coming off a bye, rounds and line ranges.

As a general thought, bettors should understand the value of having a bye in conference tournaments is typically significant, especially when they are believed to be the better team. In fact, conference tournament favorites off a bye are 474-159 SU and 298-254-16 ATS (54%) over the last eight seasons against teams that played earlier in that tournament. That is a winning wager without anything else considered. Remember that when you try to project upsets earlier in these tournaments, especially if you are led to believe the underdog may have picked up momentum from beating a lesser team in a play-in type of game.

Note: All of these betting systems included games heading into the respective 2022 tournaments.

Atlantic Sun

— Single-digit underdogs in the Atlantic Sun tournament are 16-10 SU and 20-5-1 ATS (80%) since 2014, while double-digit favorites are on a 28-2 SU and 17-12-1 ATS (58.6%) surge in that same span.

Horizon League

— Teams playing as underdogs of 6 points or more and having played already in the Horizon League tournament are on an amazing 9-4 SU and 10-3 ATS (76.9%) run against teams that enjoyed a bye.

— The last eight Horizon League tournament semifinal games have gone Under the total (100%).


— Underdogs in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game are on a 13-2 ATS (86.7%) run, including 11 outright upsets.

— Seven of the last eight quarterfinal games in the Northeast Conference tournament went Under the total.

Patriot League

— Double-digit Patriot League tournament underdogs have proven quite pesky lately, going 15-7 ATS (68.2%) since 2012, although the last 13 have lost outright.

— The quarterfinal round of the Patriot League tournament has trended Over on totals, 19-9 (67.9%) in the last 28.

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