The college basketball season has been up and running for nearly a month, and it’s a good time to start plotting for the rest of the season based on the early returns. One thing I like to do is to find potential money-makers in the midmajor ranks. Oddsmakers seem a little less invested in these teams and tend to take longer to catch up to just how good they are or can be. Just look at last spring, when we found two teams from midmajor conferences in the Final Four, though I’m not sure anyone really looks at Gonzaga or Houston as midmajors. Earlier in the tournament, Oral Roberts and Loyola (Chicago) also made noise.
My data for the first four weeks of the season indicates 10 midmajor teams that might be worthy of your betting consideration. All these teams have Effective Strength Ratings over 11 right now, better than their perceived power ratings among the mainstream sources and my own. In other words, these teams are still underrated, in my opinion.
Let’s take a closer look at these midmajor quick starters, including their resumes, key players and upcoming games in which to consider backing them. For the three-power-rating average, I’ve used the ratings of Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin and myself.
BYU (West Coast)
Record: 7-1 SU and 4-3 ATS
3-Power-Rating Average: 84.1
Effective Strength Equivalent Rating: 86.2
Analysis: For years, BYU has been near the top of the offensive efficiency ratings. Early this season, the Cougars have struggled somewhat on that side of the court. In fact, after Saturday’s 74-68 win at Missouri State, it could reasonably be argued that they are in a shooting slump, having failed to hit more than 26 percent beyond the arc in any of their last four games. It cost them a game against Utah State. However, this team is better defensively than it has been in quite a while, allowing just 0.916 effective points per possession, good for 25th in the country. Coach Mark Pope’s team will be a tourney threat as long as it continues that effort. But Pope will need to find some support for guard Alex Barcello, who is carrying much of the offensive load. The Cougars have two tough games this week but are 3-0 SU and ATS as single-digit favorites in 2021.
Upcoming games: Wednesday vs. Utah State, Saturday vs. Creighton at Sioux Falls, S.D.