Hitting home stretch in power conferences

Over the last few years, I’ve always looked forward to the last couple of regular-season weeks in college basketball, particularly in the power conferences. At this point, the strongest teams with the best and most consistent coaching staffs are best prepared to make runs. Home-court advantage also is enhanced at this time of year. In many ways, college basketball is like the NFL in that regard, with the best teams tending to rise up at the end. 

With so many regular-season league titles yet to be determined and the seeding for postseason tournaments not sorted out, power-conference teams have a ton to play for in the final two weeks. And as usual, with so much on the line, handicapping strategy should change a bit. Oddsmakers often will sway their lines slightly to reflect teams’ must-win mentality in key spots. They also might shade teams playing out the string.

The point spread is the great equalizer for bookmakers, and with so much known about each team by now, 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. That includes late-season performance, especially when coaching situations have remained consistent.

I got a ton of great feedback on this report last year after the three top teams I uncovered — Oregon, Virginia and Kentucky — combined to go 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS down the stretch of 2020, while many bottom teams continued to flounder.

You’ll see some very definitive angles you’ll be inclined to use, primarily as they pertain to home-court advantage, pace of play and recent results in a matchup. Also, certain teams have thrived and others have tanked at this time of year.

The results shown cover games dating to 2016, or the last six seasons. The final two weeks of this year’s regular season would include games from Monday through March 7, so Point Spread Weekly readers will again have 12 full days to take advantage of the findings. In fact, with many rescheduled games still to be played, more opportunities than ever should exist.

It is important to 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 397-293 ATS, or 57.5%, in this period since 2016. This is a blind strategy that would have produced mega-profits for bettors.

Top Teams

Fourteen 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 154-99 against the spread (60.9%) as well. They are:

Oregon: 17-1 SU and 14-3 ATS

Virginia: 18-2 SU and 13-7 ATS

Kansas: 18-2 SU and 10-10 ATS

Michigan State: 16-3 SU and 14-5 ATS

Kentucky: 16-4 SU and 11-9 ATS

Providence: 14-4 SU and 13-5 ATS

Purdue: 14-4 SU and 9-8 ATS

North Carolina: 14-5 SU and 9-8 ATS

Utah: 11-4 SU and 9-5 ATS

Florida State: 13-5 SU and 8-8 ATS

Seton Hall: 13-5 SU and 12-6 ATS

Villanova: 13-5 SU and 9-9 ATS

West Virginia: 14-6 SU and 10-9 ATS

Wisconsin: 14-6 SU and 13-7 ATS

By no coincidence, every single one of these programs 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.

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

Oregon: 14-3 ATS

Providence: 13-5 ATS

Michigan State: 14-5 ATS

Georgia Tech: 14-5 ATS

Bottom Teams

Ten power-conference teams have won 30% or less of their games in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years. Their combined ATS record is an ugly 73-113 (39.2%). Those teams are:

Boston College: 2-17 SU and 6-10 ATS

Pittsburgh: 2-16 SU and 6-12 ATS

Georgetown: 3-16 SU and 8-11 ATS

Alabama: 4-16 SU and 4-16 ATS

Nebraska: 4-15 SU and 6-13 ATS

St. John’s: 4-14 SU and 5-13 ATS

Washington State: 4-13 SU but 9-8 ATS

TCU: 5-15 SU and 9-10 ATS

DePaul: 6-14 SU and 10-10 ATS

Missouri: 6-14 SU and 10-10 ATS

Paradoxically, on this worst-teams list are an Alabama team playing for a conference crown, a St. John’s team fighting for its postseason life and a Missouri team that was recently listed among the top 16 teams in the country by the tournament committee.

Also, three teams have gone worse than 30% ATS in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years. They are:

Alabama: 4-16 ATS

St. John’s: 5-13 ATS

Washington: 4-13 ATS

Best Home Teams

Besides seven other teams that are better than 90% outright at home in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years, these four teams have gone undefeated at home in that span. They also have combined to go 26-10 against the spread (72.2%). They are:

Florida State: 10-0 SU and 6-2 ATS

Kansas: 10-0 SU but 4-6 ATS

Michigan State: 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS

Oregon: 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS

Worst Home Teams

Most of the teams on the bottom list have enjoyed little to no home-court advantage late in the season. Here are the six power-conference teams that have failed to win 40% 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 21-37 (36.2%):

TCU: 3-7 SU and 5-5 ATS

Alabama: 3-7 SU and 1-9 ATS

Missouri: 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS

Pittsburgh: 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS

Boston College: 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS

Georgetown: 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS

Best Road Teams

The ability to win on the road late in the season is typically a strong trait for the best teams across all sports. Same goes for college basketball. Here are the five power-conference teams to win at least 70% of their road games in the final two weeks of the regular season since 2016:

Oregon: 8-1 SU and 6-2 ATS

Virginia: 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS

Kansas: 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS

Michigan State: 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS

Kentucky: 7-3 SU and 5-5 ATS

Worst Road Teams

Thirteen teams have won one or fewer games on the road 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 also not pretty at 28-84 (25%). So it makes sense to continue fading these teams on the road.

DePaul: 1-10 SU and 3-8 ATS

Creighton: 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS

Stanford: 1-7 SU and 2-5 ATS

Georgetown: 1-8 SU and 4-5 ATS

Penn State: 1-8 SU and 2-6 ATS

Iowa State: 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS

Alabama: 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS

Boston College: 0-9 SU and 2-4 ATS

Duke: 0-9 SU and 0-8 ATS

Pittsburgh: 0-10 SU and 3-7 ATS

St. John’s: 0-10 SU and 1-9 ATS

Nebraska: 0-10 SU and 2-8 ATS

Colorado: 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS

Best Revenge Teams

An angle that produces some definitive results is that of revenge, meaning how a team responded after losing the first game to a conference opponent. Here is a list of the teams that performed best in the final two weeks of the regular season since 2016 when playing with revenge motivation:

Oklahoma: 6-4 SU and 8-2 ATS

Utah: 5-1 SU and 4-1 ATS

Auburn: 5-1 SU and 4-1 ATS

Kentucky: 4-1 SU and 4-1 ATS

Ole Miss: 4-1 SU and 4-1 ATS

Oregon: 6-0 SU and 6-0 ATS

Georgia Tech: 4-3 SU and 6-1 ATS

Virginia: 3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS

Worst Revenge Teams

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

Pittsburgh: 0-4 SU and 0-4 ATS

Iowa State: 1-5 SU and 1-4 ATS

Alabama: 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS

Arizona: 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS

USC: 1-5 SU and 1-5 ATS

Nebraska: 2-6 SU and 2-6 ATS

On Totals: Over and Under Teams

Six power-conference teams have gone Over the total in 66.7% of their games or more in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years. They are:

Xavier: 12-4 Over

Michigan: 13-5 Over

Rutgers: 12-5 Over

St. John’s: 12-6 Over

Ohio State: 12-6 Over

Oregon State: 12-6 Over

Ten teams have gone Under the total in 67% of their games or more in the final two weeks of the regular season over the last five years. They are:

Pittsburgh: 15-2 Under

Notre Dame: 14-3 Under

Clemson: 14-4 Under

Alabama: 15-5 Under

Oklahoma: 13-5 Under

Duke: 14-6 Under

Virginia: 14-6 Under

Tennessee: 14-6 Under

Virginia Tech: 13-6 Under

Arizona: 12-6 Under

Home-Court Advantage by Conference

All six 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 52% or better ATS. Over the last two years 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 and 2020 would have gone 188-91 SU and 169-103 ATS, good for 62.1% and a profit of $5,570 on $100 wagers! Here are the home records for each conference in order of ATS success:

Big East home teams: 59-32 SU and 56-35 ATS (61.5%)

ACC home teams: 98-42 SU and 81-53 ATS (60.4%)

Pac-12 home teams: 73-31 SU and 61-40 ATS (60.4%)

Big Ten home teams: 86-48 SU and 77-53 ATS (59.2%)

SEC home teams: 89-51 SU and 72-66 ATS (52.2%)

Big 12 home teams: 66-33 SU and 50-46 ATS (52.1%)

Some trends have 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 East: 54-36 Over (60%)

Big Ten: 77-57 Over (57.5%)

Big 12: 51-47 Over (52%)

Pac-12: 54-50 Under (51.9%)

SEC: 75-65 Under (53.6%)

ACC: 86-50 Under (63.2%)

Trends by Line Range

Here are some trends that have developed in the various conferences specific to line range:

— A clear line point in ACC betting has been six points. ACC home teams in the -6 to + 6 range are 49-27 SU and 53-22 ATS (70.7%), a sign that home-court advantage can be the deciding factor in expectedly tight games. ACC hosts favored by more than six points have gone 47-3 SU but 23-22 ATS (51.1%), while those playing as underdogs of more than six points are an ugly 2-12 SU and 5-9 ATS (35.7%). On that latter trend, Under the total is also 11-3.

— Big 12 home favorites of more than 11 points in the last two weeks’ games are 15-1 SU but just 4-12 ATS (25%). The best line range to play Big 12 home favorites has been in the -4.5 to -11 range, where they are 29-4 SU and 23-10 ATS (69.7%).

— Big East games with teams favored by double digits in the last two weeks of the regular season are on a 13-3 Over stretch heading into the 2021 games.

— Contrary to popular belief, laying a lot of points with hosts in the Big Ten has been a rewarding strategy, as those favored by seven points or more are on an amazing 32-2 SU and 27-6 ATS (81.8%) run since 2016.

— Single-digit Pac-12 home favorites are on a 33-18 ATS (64.7%) surge in the last two weeks of the last five regular seasons.

— SEC home dogs have really struggled, going 7-22 SU and 10-19 ATS (34.5%) since 2016.

Use this information against the rest of the 2021 regular-season schedule to reap big rewards.

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