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When can you trust a road favorite?

By Greg Peterson  () 

One of the most chic betting trends in college basketball is betting home underdogs. Kansas State, TCU, St. John’s and Clemson covered last weekend as ugly home underdogs, and all but the Wildcats won outright.

But the real question is: What makes a trustworthy road favorite?

The answer is: Don’t be one-dimensional. The top conferences for road favorites covering this season are the Atlantic Sun at 21-14 and the Big Sky at 21-14-2 against the spread in these situations.

The Big Sky is one of the toughest conferences in the country in terms of travel. Its cities include Portland, Ore., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Greeley, Colo. In points per possession, Northern Colorado is the only Big Sky team in the top 59 among Division I teams, while Idaho is the only one in the bottom 65. In defensive efficiency, Southern Utah is the conference’s top team, ranking 64th, while only Idaho State is in the bottom 35.

North Florida of the Atlantic Sun has the most consecutive road covers as a favorite at 7-0. San Diego State of the Mountain West is 8-1. The Ospreys rate 13th in the country in points per possession, while the Aztecs are fifth.

San Diego State exhibits balance, ranking eighth in the country in defensive efficiency. But North Florida is an outlier with its defense, ranking 296th in the country in points per possession allowed. The Ospreys also take a higher percentage of their shots from 3-point range than any team.

Other great cover teams include Kansas, which is 6-3 against the spread as a road favorite and is 27th in offensive efficiency and fourth in defense. Furman is 8-3 against the spread in these spots and is in the top 80 in offensive and defensive efficiency, while Northern Iowa pairs being seventh in the country in points per possession with being in the bottom 40 in total possessions per game.

West Virginia, meanwhile, has gone just 1-6 against the spread in these situations despite being sixth in the country in points per possession because the Mountaineers are 181st in offensive efficiency. South Dakota is 1-5 and is the opposite of West Virginia, rating 16th in offensive efficiency and just 304th in defensive efficiency.

To trust in road favorites, make sure they check multiple boxes. For the year, road favorites are covering about 48.7% of the time, which makes picking the right ones all the more important.


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